Festive sugar shockers

Emma Brown - Nutritionist | 15 Nov, 2021

Picture this: You're watching someone make a cuppa. They add a teaspoon of sugar. And a second. Then a third. Okay maybe that's a bit excessive, they must have a very sweet tooth – but then they keep on going, adding a whopping 16 teaspoons of sugar!! Impossible you say, it would be completely undrinkable?

Well prepare to be shocked by the sugar content of some of the seasonal special drinks served up by our favourite coffee shops. Check out the info below!

Grande Caffè Nero Mint Choc Chip Hot Chocolate

festive shockers

That's 16 teaspoons of the sweet stuff, dissolving in your mug. How is there even room for so much sugar?

Venti Starbucks Caramel Waffle Latte

festive shockers

Nutritionist Emma Brown (MSc) explains: "These drinks should be an occasional treat, not a replacement for your daily coffee. Many are laden with an unbelievable amount of sugar and calories, and we often accompany them with a high sugar and fat snack too.

Medium Costa Coffee Terry's Chocolate Orange Hot Chocolate with Light Dairy Swirl

festive shockers

"And be wary of the 'upsell': coffee shops are great at encouraging us to 'upsize' our drink or add a pastry. They also use different words for drink sizes – massimo, medio, grande, venti – bit of a smokescreen? 'Venti' doesn’t sound quite the same as 'massive'!

By all means enjoy a treat, just be aware of the cost – in sugar content and calories".

Emma's coffee shop tips:

  1. Liquid calories aren't free! Check calories and nutrients the same way as you would for high sugar, high calorie foods.
  2. Don't 'upsize' – choose the smallest serving.
  3. Skip the pastries.

And not forgetting classic Christmas tipples...

Mulled wine

festive shockers

Mince pie martini

festive shockers


festive shockers

*Note: The hot drinks are typically made with milk – so around 4 tsp (16g) of sugar will be made up by natural milk sugars. Sugar from natural sources is not of concern, it’s the added sugar we need to be mindful of.

Nutritionist Emma Brown (ANutr), MSc Human Nutrition is passionate about how food science applies to the human body, and how the nutrients in what we eat affect us and ultimately have an impact on our health.