Do you take sugar in your coffee? 1 teaspoon or 2?

I remember when I moved up to Olympia, Washington in 1987. There was this incredible and edgy new Coffee Roaster in town, Batdorf and Bronson. This was well before Starbucks became the rage and was situated on every street corner in America.

On my first visit I sat down at the counter and ordered some crazy (at the time) concoction. I think they called it an iced cappuccino, but really, it was anything but that. It came in a large glass, poured so that the espresso and 1/2 and 1/2 separated, creating these wonderful layers, almost too pretty to stir. It was one of the most delicious things I had ever tasted. It was like drinking an adult milkshake, without the guilt. I mean, come on, it was coffee.

Now, loving coffee like I do, I really appreciate the idea behind the coffee house. The gathering place where friends meet and conversation is cultivated. And for many years, it felt that way to me. It was a place geared towards adult and the adult beverage. But slowly it changed. Everything about it changed.

Starbucks and the other large chains became the place to bring your kids. It became the Ronald McDonald playland for the hip young moms and the grandmother's with their little grandchildren in tow. A place where they could get their "coffee" and buy the kids a little something as well. What's the problem with that, you might ask? Well, for starters, what we are now calling "coffee" is really just a major sugar high in disguise. Actually, it's not even in disguise, and it's not coffee. It's in a cup called a "Grande"~ it is filled with caramel, vanilla or chocolate syrups and topped with whipped cream and another helping of caramel, or . . . yes, yes, I know, everyone loves them.  And what's wrong with giving our kids a little treat?

Only about 15 tsps of sugar!
But they are not a special treat anymore, not a once in awhile delight.  They have become a part of our daily lives.  They say most people now average spending $90 a month on "coffee" ~ the drinks we buy outside the home. And the cost is much larger than the dollar amount we are spending.

Now I must admit, years ago, during the winter, I got into the habit of getting a Starbucks "tall, non-fat, 2-pump mocha" on my way to work, at least 4 times a week. Later in the summer, I would treat myself to a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Vanilla Blended. A small one. Oh, how much I loved them! I haven't had one in a long time and the other day I felt I wanted to treat myself. It was the first time I ever asked the barista how much sugar the small Vanilla Blended contained. He didn't know, so he went to look it up. He came back over and said "not too bad, it has about 44 grams of sugar." 44 grams! That comes out to about 10 teaspoons of sugar in that one small drink!  I ordered an iced coffee instead.

What we have started here is an awful habit and for some, addiction, in our young people. I see teens with these monstrous sugary "coffee" drinks and I can now see that it's no wonder we have such an obesity and early childhood diabetes problem in this country, and spreading quickly to many more I might add. We have got to get our sugar addiction under control, as consuming sugar only leads us to craving it more and more. (And just an FYI ~ Starbucks Grande Caramel Frappaccino comes in at a whopping 59 grams of sugar.)

I was really sad to learn about the sugar content in my favorite Iced Vanilla Blended. One more item on my "never to do" list. I don't see it though as deprivation, but more, a new found appreciation and dedication to my health. There are other ways to treat your taste buds and get that warm and cozy feeling without harming yourself in the process.You can recreate many of your favorites. For example, when this fall, Starbucks re-introduces their crowd pleasing, Pumpkin Spice latte, do yourself and the ones you love a favor, and make a healthier version of it at home.