Thursday, July 15, 2010

Starbucks, or The Problem with Nutritional Information

I am currently drinking my very first Frappuccino:

There's no name game this time, as they initially 
screwed up my order and this is cup #2.

They're very popular during our office's late-afternoon Sbux run, and I've always been curious about them - what's not to love about a not-too-bad-for-you coffee "milkshake"? Today, as the omigodthisisthelongestdayever hour of 3:00 approached, I decided I'd try one out.

I did some carb research before I went on the Starbucks website, and I've gotta say I was a bit stumped. A grande light coffee Frappuccino - described by Starbucks as "a delicious blend of coffee, milk, and ice" - had 27g of carbohydrates.

Their "simple recipe": take dark-roasted coffee, add milk, blend with ice.

Seemed like a lot compared with my usual 13-gram cappuccino, so I decided to check out a more milky treat - the latte, "espresso in steamed milk, lightly topped with foam":

At 18g, the math still wasn't adding up. Still, for just a handful of extra carbs, I decided to hell with it and headed to Starbucks...where the adventure continued as I tried to order.

me: So, a light coffee Frappuccino? That's just coffee, milk and ice, right? No sugar?

barista: Well, there's the coffee base.

me: You mean coffee?

barista: Coffee base.

me, completely confused by "base": It's not just coffee?

barista: No, it's coffee base.

me: Um. I'm diabetic. I just need to know if there's sugar or if it's just coffee and milk like it says on the website.

barista: There's the coffee base. I think that might have some in it.

me: if i ordered a light coffee Frappuccino I'd be getting...?

barista, grinning with understanding: Our Frappuccino with the least sugar in it.

Feeling like I would never get out of that insane conversation loop, I just ordered the darn thing. My takeaways? 1) Ten levels of frustrating: Bonus points to the helpful barista, but Starbucks's frakking website should have more detailed - AND ACCURATE - information. 2) The thing wasn't worth the hassle, as my usually sugar-free tastebuds didn't quite love all that tongue-shriveling sugar. 3) Dex says that - so far - their posted carb count info is at least correct.

So technically, today I had my first - and last - Frappuccino.


  1. Last time I went to Starbucks I ordered a Vente nonfat Chai Latte...thinking TEA! It's healthier than coffee!! I (stupidly) didn't check Calorie King and (even more stupidly) guesstimated 25g carbs. Yeah, an hour later (and 150mg/dL higher) I realized how stewwpid I was. Turns out it had 46 freaking grams of carbs (and approximately 40-gazillion calories)!!

    I am apparently still angry at this.

  2. I usually stick with the Skinny Vanilla Latte. (Iced in summer, although I do get a little embarrassed about ordering a drink with so many qualifiers.) That's automatic sugar-free syrup and skim milk. But then I'm always afraid they got lazy or forgetful and put the normal stuff in . . .

    Yeah, you're right. There's no easy way to order coffee there without going crazy.

  3. The paranoia's crazy, isn't it? I feel like I'm forever checking on soda, too: "This IS diet, right?"

    That's why I usually stick to the safe (read: boring) drip coffee. Sigh...

  4. So frustrating. I'm always so confused by their nutrition info. Heck, even their Protein Plate has 36 grams of carbs!!

    Hubby went to Starbucks once to get me an iced latte with sugar-free hazelnut. Somehow they talked him into getting a Frappuccino with sugar-free hazelnut instead because they were "on sale". (Turned out more expensive than the latte anyway.) AND IT WAS GROSS. I barely drank two sips!!! It tasted like watery ice and chemicals. Yuck. At least it didn't spike me - because I hardly drank any!! Pete felt so bad for not getting the iced latte I had been craving too.