Lonely Planet Writer

25 spoonfuls of sugar in some coffee shop drinks say researchers

A new study reveals that cafes worldwide are serving drinks with up to 25 teaspoons of sugar already in them.

Starbucks looking to evening diners
Starbucks looking to evening diners Image by poolie / CC BY 2.0

The study carried out by English NGO Action On Sugar, found that 98% of the 131 hot drinks being served in most chain cafes, had what amounted to a ‘red’ level warning for sugar content. More than a third of the drinks were found to contain more sugar than a CocaCola bottle.

The worst offenders according to the study were British chain Costa, and Starbucks. Costa’s largest chai latte drink was found to contain 20 teaspoons of sugar, whilst Starbucks’s hot chocolate contained 20 teaspoons, over twice the recommended daily amount for an adult. But the worst offender of them all was Starbucks’s Hot Mulled Fruit, a variation on the chai latte, which was found to contain 25 teaspoons of sugar.

Action On Sugar carried out the study across many of the big food chain conglomerates that have chains in the UK and some worldwide. Among them were Leon, Pret a Manger, KFC, McDonalds, Costa Coffee, Starbucks, and Eat. However, the group particularly targeted Starbucks because of it’s extra large and enormous size cups and helpings it serves.

Coffee spill being blamed for jet plunge.
Coffee . Image by Jo Fothergill / CC BY-SA 2.0

Speaking to the Guardian, Starbucks said that “all nutritional information is available in-store and online” but that it was in any case committed to reducing the sugar in its drinks by 25% by the end of 2020. Action On Sugar has called for a 50% reduction in the amounts of sugar in these drinks within the next five years. The call for action came after English MPs said that a 20% sugar levy was an essential part of combatting childhood obesity.

Speaking to the Guardian, health nutrionist Kawther Hashem said, “Our advice to consumers is to have a plain hot drink or ask for your drink to contain a minimal amount of syrup, preferably sugar-free, in the smallest serving size available.”