"I drink too many of these, and they're not good for me," the 63-year-old Seattle resident admitted a bit sheepishly as he sipped the 420-calorie chocolate, coffee and whipped cream concoction. "I always wish I hadn't afterward, but my craving overcomes common sense."
It may seem counterintuitive to say that coffee is fattening - and, indeed, a regular cup of joe at Starbucks has just 10 calories. But add a little milk, a splash of chocolate or a squirt of whipping cream and things can get considerably more caloric.
A 16-ounce nonfat latte weighs in at a meager 160 calories, but the same size mocha - with whole milk and whipped cream - jumps up to 400 calories.
The sweet, summery frozen drinks can be even more tempting - and sinful. The largest Java Chip Frappuccino weighs in at 650 calories - 50 calories more than a Big Mac - and contains 25 grams of fat, compared with 33 grams for the Big Mac.
Surprised that your afternoon coffee break can be so caloric? Diane Javelli, a clinical dietician with the University of Washington in Seattle, said many people don't count the calories they slurp, whether it's coffee, juice or soda.
"I think often we have the perception if we're drinking it, it doesn't have to have calories," she said.
When compiling a diet history, Javelli often walks through her patient's coffee drink choice, breaking down everything from flavoring to milk fat.
She doesn't necessarily recommend cutting out lattes altogether - after all, there is protein, calcium and vitamin D in that milk - but she does often counsel patients to try a smaller size, or limit themselves to just a few drinks a week.
Hoping to appeal to more calorie-conscious coffee drinkers, Starbucks on Wednesday will launch "light" versions of its Frappuccino drinks, made with lower-fat milk and artificial sweeteners. A 12-ounce serving of the new light drink will have 110 calories and 1 gram of fat, compared with 190 calories and 2.5 grams of fat for the regular version.
Also Wednesday, Seattle-based Starbucks will stock stores with nutritional brochures detailing information about all their drinks. The same data has been available on Starbucks' Web site for about a year.
Despite the increased attention to obesity in America, Starbucks Senior Vice President Michelle Gass said the coffee retailer hasn't seen a backlash from customers suddenly worried about how fattening their coffee is.
She said the new light drinks and nutritional brochures "are just part of, in general, us trying to answer consumer needs."
Gass said Starbucks spent two years perfecting a light Frappuccino that still tastes good. But she still doesn't expect it to lure away loyalists to the originals, such as Lass.
"When does nonfat taste good?" he asked skeptically.
Less fat is better, but Javelli notes that even nonfat drinks add up.
Diana Kawamoto, 31, of Aptos, Calif., usually orders her 20-ounce venti Chai lattes two at a time, a treat that can add up to 600 calories even though she always asks for nonfat milk.
Javelli notes that reducing your caloric intake by 250 calories a day can lead to weight loss of half a pound per week.
"Some of those coffee drinks might be the difference between losing half a pound a week or not, even though they're the light ones," she said.
Just How Many Calories?
A cup of black coffee has just 10 calories, Starbucks says, but an espresso drink laden with milk, flavoring and whipped cream can almost be a meal in itself.
Some nutritional information for 16-ounce "grande" drinks at Starbucks:
- Nonfat latte: 160 calories, 0 grams of fat.
- Vanilla latte, with whole milk: 280 calories, 10 grams of fat.
- Chai latte with nonfat milk: 230 calories, 0 grams of fat.
- Mocha with whole milk and whipped cream: 400 calories, 22 grams of fat.
- Caramel Frappuccino, with whipped cream: 430 calories, 16 grams of fat.
- Light caramel Frappuccino, without whipped cream: 180 calories, 1.5 grams of fat.
- Strawberries & Creme Frappuccino Blended Creme, without whipped cream: 470 calories, 5 grams of fat.
- Strawberries & Creme Frappuccino Blended Creme, with whipped cream: 600 calories, 17 grams of fat.
For More Information:
Starbucks Nutrition Info -- www.starbucks.com