Fancy Coffee House Drinks You Should Stay Away From

While coffee with milk has been a thing since the 17th century, it has only been in the last 30 years or so that the beverage turned into the drink we consume today. And while Refinery29 traces back the genesis of flavored coffee drinks to Seattle and its embrace of java culture to the late 20th century, our love affair for fancy coffees didn't really take off until celebs were caught indulging in them; in other words — fancy coffee has become a status signifier that many of us could afford.

So while many of us might appear to be prepared to pay upwards of $6 for a cup of coffee to look trendy, are these pricey javas doing anything for us? Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and owner of Camelback Nutrition & Wellness Kristen Carli tells Mashed that other than give us an image boost, our coffee beverages may not be what our bodies need. 

"The most concerning ingredients in these coffee drinks are added sugars and saturated fats. In most fancy coffee house drinks, you will find a plethora of sugar from syrups, flavorings, and whipped cream," Carli says, adding that cream, milk, and other add-ons can push some of these drinks to have 500 calories. "When you compare this against a mug of black coffee, which has around four calories, you can see the stark contrast."

Pick one type of coffee, avoid the other, expert says

Carli gave Mashed a lowdown of some beverages which folks may want to view as treats rather than a daily routine. The list includes just about any Frappuccino from Starbucks, but most especially the Mocha Cookie Frappuccino, the White Chocolate Mocha, and the Caramel Macchiato.

She also calls out Dunkin' for its coffee beverages, with a special mention to the Chocolate Stout Flavored Cold Brew with Sweet Cold Foam, Irish Cream Swirl Frozen Coffee, and Frozen Chai Latte.

If what you're looking for is a pick-me-up, Carli tells Mashed that you're better off sticking with the classics: an espresso, an Americano, or a basic latte. She also distinguishes between the three: "Espresso is a very strong type of coffee, an Americano is simply an espresso with hot water, and a latte is espresso with milk. It's not the coffee that makes the difference, it's what's added to speciality beverages that might negate any health benefits you reap from the coffee itself."

If you're looking to cut back on the amount of calories you are consuming and aren't a fan of taking your coffee black, Carli suggests going for a latte, with low-fat or non-fat milk. "If you don't include dairy in your diet, consider a fortified plant-based beverage enriched with calcium and vitamin D. Avoid sweeteners or opt for a sugar-free option," she recommends.