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: Uh...so 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.

4 comments:

  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.

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  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.

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  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...

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  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.

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