It's coffee time

By admin
02 September 2009

The ubiquitous ‘cuppa coffee’ can pick you up, chill you out and even bring some benefits to your body and brain. But this beloved beverage is still stirring up debate. Why? Because your favourite fix could be sabotaging your diet …

By Kim van Reizig

A weighty issue

If you’re watching your weight, it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee. You might be opting for healthy, low-fat meals but that cappuccino at breakfast, coffee with milk at 10 am, caffelatte after lunch and iced coffee in the evening are all adding kilojoules that could scupper your weight-control plans.

On its own coffee has no kilojoules and is packed with healthy antioxidants. In fact, according to Martie de Wet, a dietician at Johannesburg’s Mayo Clinic, it could even be considered a better breakfast option than, say, sweetened orange juice. Why? Because it contains far fewer kilojoules. But just how bad is a double-froth, super-sized choccoccino? And how does it compare with a basic cup of filter?

Check out the following coffee crib sheet by dieticians Martie de Wet and Megan Pentz-Kluyts and start making sense of what’s on the menu.

Black coffee

Instant or ground coffee with no milk, no sugar

Fat content 0 g

Kilojoules 0 kJ

Filter coffee with milk

Four parts coffee and one part milk, one spoon sugar

Fat content 3,32 g

Kilojoules 257,2 kJ

Equals one tablespoon of light mayonnaise or a teaspoon of cream cheese

Café mocha (also called choccoccino)

One part espresso, three parts full-cream milk, two tablespoons cocoa powder and a dollop of cream

Fat content 14, 92 g

Kilojoules 1 221,95 kJ

Equals one 250 g lasagne or 60 g peanuts and raisins or 45 g chocolate

Iced coffee

One part espresso, one part full-cream milk, two tablespoons coffee creamer

Fat content 18,14 g

Kilojoules 1 480,4 kJ

Equals one medium sized chicken pie or 30 g hot chips


One part espresso, one part full-cream milk, one part foamed milk

Fat content 6,64 g

Kilojoules 514,4 kJ

Equals three baby potatoes with one tablespoon of sour cream or one portion of battered hake


One part espresso, three parts full-cream milk

Fat content 7,47 g

Kilojoules 740,7 kJ

Equals two medium sized slices of Hawaiian pizza or one medium sized jam doughnut

Take note: Adding a spoonful of sugar will add a further 81 kJ but no fat.

Did you know . . . Freshly ground coffee is healthier than instantcoffee because instant contains preservatives.

Extra tasty

Coffee is a social institution and a big, brewing global addiction. We wake up with espressos, have meetings over macchiatos and kick back with leisurely caffelattes on a Sunday afternoon. Most coffee houses and home coffee machines are now adding luscious (but kilojoule-laden) extras such as milk, cream, syrup, chocolate and sprinklings of cocoa powder to their rich and creamy blends. To make matters worse many of us have graduated from a single morning pick-me-up cup to multiple refills throughout the day

Think before you drink

Try these easy kilojoule cutting tactics when making or ordering coffee

Stick to skinny. When ordering at a coffee bar ask the barista what kind of milk is available and always opt for low-fat or – even better – skimmed milk if they have it. As you can see, this small change makes a serious difference:

Fat g Energy kj

Full-cream milk 250 ml 8,3 643

Low-fat milk 250 ml 4,8 520

Skimmed milk 250 ml 1,3 390

Cut the cream. Choose foam over whipped cream and halve the kilojoule content of your cup. An average three tablespoons of cream contain 481,8 kJ and 10,8 g of fat – that’s more than you’ll find in a whole cup of full-cream milk.

Be sweet-smart. Use sweetener instead of sugar. While sugar contains no fat, just two teaspoons pack 162 kJ and if you’re spooning that much into four cups of coffee a day (the healthy maximum for an adult), that adds up to 648 extra kilojoules.

Downsize. By choosing a smaller cup you get to have your tasty fix and cut the kilojoules. Smaller options may not always be offered by the barista behind the counter, so make a point of asking for one.

Top it off. The chocolate shavings and sprinkles melt away in a second but they add unnecessary kilojoules. Simply ask that they be left off.

Strike a balance. If you can’t do without three caffelattes a day give up a slice or two of bread to balance your overall energy intake.

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