How Should You Drink Your Coffee?


If you walk down the streets of Paris on any weekday morning, you will see sleek, perfectly coiffed Parisians clutching a briefcase or designer handbag and perhaps the newspaper. If you walk down any street in Australia, you'll see a very different picture; instead you will see tens of people holding, no make that clutching a takeaway coffee cup. Now inside those containers there could be a skim capp, a chai latte or even a soy mocha, but what I see is calories, a lot of liquid calories that few of us really need. 

Now, before your coffee fuelled brain goes into a fury at the thought of the dietitian ruining the one indulgence of the day, it is true, that there are some health benefits associated with drinking coffee.

Research repeatedly suggests a number of positive health benefits associated from a regular, controlled intake of coffee including lower blood pressure, reduced levels of blood fats, hey the caffeine may even promote fat burning but these benefits come from the coffee, not the 500ml of milk, sugar and syrup far too many of us add to our morning and mid-morning coffee ritual each day.

A constant stream of sugar that comes from the milk when you enjoy a large or jumbo sized coffee is not only a nightmare from a calorie perspective but studies have also shown that feeding the body with a constant stream of sugar, even if it is milk sugar can result in fat deposits in the liver even in as short a time period as 24 hours. This means that if you suck on milk based coffees for many hours each day, it is going to be very to control your weight and in particular lose it. 

There is nothing wrong with enjoying a cup or two of coffee each day but the way you take your coffee and timing of when you enjoy it is crucial to control your appetite, caffeine intake, insulin (the hormone that can make you fat) and glucose levels as well as your calorie intake. Ideally the body needs at least 2-3 hours without food in between meals which means that milk coffees including flat whites, capps and lattes need to be enjoyed with a meal or mid-morning or afternoon snack, not as an extra. And most importantly, my favourite mantra is, “no one needs a large coffee’, super-sized coffee cups equate to a small meal worth of calories and are indeed often the reason that people cannot lose weight, particularly when downing two of these each day and then sitting for 10-12 hours straight. 

This means that if you grab a coffee in between a meal or mid meals, your best option is to choose black or herbal tea, or if you must have coffee, black coffee. This way you still get the caffeine hit and other potential benefits of the coffee without the calories. Keep in mind though, that drinking nothing but coffee day in day out is unlikely to be doing any favours for your nervous system or sleep habits. If you are an excessive coffee drinker, try and cut back just a little. Ideally adults should aim for less than 300mg of caffeine each day, which equates to 2-3 cups of coffee along with 2-3 cups of tea each day. 

And then there is the question that remains, so which coffee order do I think is best? Here is a nutritional run down so that you can make your own decision as to be honest I do not care, drink what you enjoy as long as it is a small!

Please note: All values are based on a small serve = 220ml. 

Flat White: A shot of espresso with 2 parts steamed milk. 120cal and 7 grams of fat. Swapping to skim milk will reduce the calories to 70 cal and almost no fat.

Latte: A shot of espresso with 2 parts frothed milk. Similar nutritional content to a full fat flat white with 120cal and 7 grams of fat with just 70cal and no fat for a small sized skim milk based serve. 

Cappuccino: A shot of espresso with 1/3 milk and 1/3 froth, slightly lower in calories than a Latte or Flat white with 110 cal and 6 grams of fat with full cream milk but with a slightly lower calcium content than both a Latte and Flat White as a cappuccino contains slightly less milk. 

Macchiato: A shot of coffee with a dash of milk – will contain just 13 or 18 calories depending on whether the milk added is skim or full cream. The risk with this form of coffee is that many will add sugar, which will add 15 calories per teaspoon.

Piccolo Latte: A mini version of a Latte with just 45 calories with full cream milk or 25 if you go for skim. A great option for those who enjoy the taste of coffee and who do not need the extra milk and calories. 

Mocha: A Latte with an extra shot of chocolate syrup added. Contains significantly more carbohydrates and calories than the average coffee with 160 calories and 6g of fat for a full cream version or 100 calories and virtually no fat for the skim milk version. 

Soy Latte: A latte made using soy milk instead of dairy milk. Many soy based coffees are made using full fat soy milk which can bump up the calories. A small will give you 3g of fat and 80 calories. 

Chai Latte: While it may appear to be a ‘healthy choice’ the good old Chai powder found at many coffee shops is packed with sugar. A small chai will give you 130 calories, 2g of fat but an extra 20g or 4 teaspoons of sugar. 

Long black: Next to the macchiato, a long black is a favourite for coffee lovers with a shot of espresso slightly diluted with hot water. At 4 cal per serve, minus any milk and sugar, one or two of these will keep both your love of coffee and diet on track. 

Susie Burrell

Please note: This blog aims to supply user-friendly nutrition information for busy people without comprising on food taste and quality but should be used as a guide only and not in place of advice from your own dietitian or medical specialist. For further information on this topic, please consult your health professional. The content of this blog, including attachments, may be privileged and confidential. Any un-authorised use of this content is expressly prohibited. Any views that are expressed in this message are those of the individual sender, except where the sender expressly, and with authority, states them to be the views of Susie Burrell Pty Ltd.
Category: Nutrition

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