(1 October is celebrated with great fervour by coffee-lovers - it's International Coffee Day, a dedicated day to promote the beverage. The following article has been republished in light of this.)
Confusion about coffee reigns supreme.
Often, those who have a lot of java might not know much more about it then those who shun it completely.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggested that frequent coffee drinkers live longer. Apparently they have a lower risk of around 10-15% of dying from diseases like diabetes, heart disease etc, as compared to those who drink little coffee or none at all.
That’s great news for coffee enthusiasts. But then there is the caffeine scare too – are we drinking too much?
The answer actually lies somewhere in between, and also is choosing the right cup of coffee.
When we talk about coffee being good for health, we are talking about a simple cup of coffee, which means a standard cup with little milk, and even less sugar. Or just black.
Not about the supersized, frothy, sweet-as-devil mugs filled to the brim with liquids called by complicated names that we all slug down at at trendy café – and then cry foul about weight gain.
Here you need to follow the lead of the Italians (and the French) who love their coffee – and still don’t gain weight. But that’s because their cup is small and black – a steaming bitter espresso shot.
Keeping the coffee simple and basic with no unnecessary additives is the way to go. So it is important to choose wisely and know your coffee.
Italian coffee drink prepared with espresso, hot milk, and steamed-milk froth. The layer of foam on top is ideally ⅓ of the content in the cup.
Calorie Meter: Depends largely on the amount of sugar and the type of milk (skimmed or full cream); usually between 75-150 calories.
A longer drink, with more milk, and varying amount of foam.
Calorie Meter: Anything from 120 to 180 calories.
One small and hard, undiluted shot of coffee
Calorie Meter: Minus sugar the average calories in cup is 2-5 calories.
Prepared by adding hot water to espresso, has a similar strength but different flavour from regular drip coffee.
Calorie meter: Minus sugar this too is just 2 to 8 calories a cup.
It’s like caffè latte, but has added chocolate, in the form of sweet cocoa powder or chocolate syrup.
Calorie Meter: 175 to 250 calories; if you have it with whipped cream and it climbs up to 400 calories
Made with a shot of espresso, scoops of vanilla ice cream and milk.
Calorie meter: This one is not really a coffee, it’s a desert. Anything between 180 to 500 calories.
Roasted and then finely ground coffee beans are boiled in a pot (cezve), usually with sugar; has a different flavour altogether and is an acquired taste.
Calorie Meter: 20 to 50 calories.
This sweet milky coffee made from dark roasted coffee beans (70–80%) and chicory (30–20%) is usually had with hot and sweetened milk.
Calorie meter: 130 to 180 calories
Keep Your Cuppa Safe (For Your Weight)
Keep decadent coffees for special times, and try not to stray from regular, plain coffee for everyday drinking. Some coffee drinks can go above 500 calories too.
Try to develop a taste for unsweetened black coffee; it is almost a zero-calorie health drink.
If your coffee has been milk and sugar laden till now, slowly reduce the amount you put of both. Count an extra 16 calories for every teaspoon of sugar added. Skip the sweetener to keep the chemical load low.
Try to reduce the serving size of the coffee. Go in for a medium instead of a large, or a small instead of a medium. For example obviously regular is a better bet than king size. Or reduce the number of cups you have in a day.
Look closely at the milk you are opting for. Skim milk can cut a lot of calories. Check if the café is willing to make the coffee with skim milk. Also check if soy milk is available (if you are lactose intolerant).
In coffees that contain syrups, try to reduce the number of pumps that go into making the coffee as sweet as it is. For instance, even 1 pump of syrup is enough (luckily 90% of café’s in India use only 1 pump per coffee), rather than 4 pumps that are usually present in one cup of coffee.
Skip the whipped cream please. You can reduce almost 80-100 calories with this one change.
Avoid coffees with additives like chocolate in it.
NOTE: all calories are indicative
(Kavita is a nutritionist, weight management consultant and health writer based in Delhi. She is the author of Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People (Jaico) and Ultimate Grandmother Hacks: 50 Kickass Traditional Habits for a Fitter You (Rupa).)
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