What Dunkin' Is Really Putting In Those Tasty Specialty Drinks

To those that know and love them, Dunkin's coffee creations are nothing if not celebrations in a cup. And while we know that Dunkin' puts a tremendous amount of TLC into the sourcing and roasting of its coffee beans (via Taste of Home), we can probably say the same about the consideration that goes into its beverages. How else can a chain decide to perk up its iced coffees by doing more than just throwing in a flavor shot? Instead, they offer swirl flavors, which are add-ons made with sweetened condensed milk and then given a boost by using ingredients that include cocoa and vanilla (per Delish). 

But all that customization doesn't really sit too well with Mathew Woodburn-Simmonds, founder of Home Coffee Expert. "A lot of the buzz around Dunkin' isn't for their espresso or their regular coffee drinks. Instead, it's for drinks like their iced caramel latte or peppermint mocha," he tells Mashed. "The reason these things taste so good? Fat and sugar."

Dunkin's specialty coffees are loaded with sugar and fat

Take that iced coffee, for instance. Along with a caffeine kick, a medium, no-frills cup of Dunkin' iced coffee might give you just five calories. But according to Dunkin's very own nutrition counter, that all changes when you add its game-changing swirl. A caramel swirl instantly bumps up the coffee's calorie count to 170 and adds an eye-watering 38 grams of sugar. The mocha swirl takes Dunkin's iced coffee to 160 calories and 34 grams of added sugar. We haven't even looked at its signature lattes, which can be amped up with drizzle, whipped cream, and toppings.

Woodburn-Simmonds tells Mashed, "Now don't get me wrong, I love fat and sugar. My love of French cooking means I have more butter and heavy cream in my fridge than in some restaurants." But he also points out that "the cream used by Dunkin' Donuts is 18 percent fat, whereas most big chains use 10 percent half and half. Plus, they put a truly scary amount of syrup in these coffees too. So, if people want to talk about how amazing the iced vanilla mocha is from Dunkin', then fair enough. But that isn't coffee, that's a dessert."