I’ve written before about my mixed emotions regarding Seattle-based Starbucks. On one hand, Starbucks efficiently provides its customers with a consistent and convenient product that is absolutely essential on certain (if not most) days of the week. Huge credit must go to Starbucks for keeping me caffeinated enough to survive graduate school. On the other hand, Starbucks is a corporation dedicated more to the peddling of empty calories than to the community that helped it grow to become the international brand it is today. I can hardly walk into one of their stores without feeling guilty about helping the company that sold the Sonics out from under Seattle earn a profit.
It might be 7:57am, but today will undoubtedly be a landmark day in my life for one reason: I walked into Starbucks today and – for the first time in my life – left without ordering a single thing. Not because I was feeling sad about the Sonics. Not because the line was too long. Not because there were too many screaming kids (there were). Not because the soccer moms were wearing too much perfume (they were). I left Starbucks without ordering a single thing today because there was absolutely nothing that I could order to provide me with a well-balanced Paleo or Whole 30 breakfast. NOTHING. I stood in line for 5 minutes, listening to various people order half-caff-single-shot-extra-pump-vanilla-lattes-with-whip-cream and thought to myself, “Brooke, this is asinine.” Not only is the menu at Starbucks completely dependent on refined grains, sweets and processed foods but there are only two drinks that someone such as myself can order: drip coffee and americanos in a size that the barista regularly claims to be out of (and that would cost $2.70 a pop). No thank you.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am about to say something completely shocking. These drinks are NOT coffee:
From the left, these drinks are a Coffee Frappucino, Caramel Macchiato, and Strawberries ‘n Cream Frappucino. The nutritional breakdown for these drinks are as follows (12 oz. size with nonfat milk):
- Coffee Frappucino: 160 calories (zero from fat), 0 g. total fat, 0 mg. cholesterol, 160 mg. sodium, 36 g. carbohydrates (all from sugars), 3 g. protein
- Caramel Macchiato: 190 calories (10 from fat), 1 g. total fat, 10 mg. cholesterol, 130 mg. sodium, 35g. carbohydrates (32 from sugars, zero from dietary fiber), 11 g. protein
- Strawberries ‘n Cream Frappucino (no whip): 230 calories, 0 g. total fat, 0 mg. cholesterol, 190 mg. sodium, 53 g. carbohydrates (all from sugars), 4 g. protein
Sure, each of these beverages contains Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium and Iron. But they are also nearly 100% sugar, with some sodium tossed in for balance. Depending on how your body tolerates dairy products, they only nutritional component comes from nonfat milk. If you’re anything like me, the dairy and sugar combination will nourish and rev you up for approximately two hours before making you feel tired, sluggish and kind of sick through the lunch hour. Starbucks goes to great lengths to make you think you’re making a responsible choice with each of your morning energy boosting coffee orders. There are skinny drinks, fruit drinks, multiple choices of milk and even sugar-free syrup options. They give you full access to caloric values for each of their drinks in each of the ways that the drinks can be ordered. But at the end of the day, the bottom line remains: Starbucks is only peddling empty calories. This is what coffee looks like:
I love coffee. Like I said earlier, I couldn’t have made it through graduate school without it. But it’s time for me to be honest with myself: a cup of coffee is 8 ounces of black liquid with a slightly denser consistency than water. It can be bitter or it can be sweet. It makes a great rub on steak and enhances the flavor of chili. It wakes me up and provides me with a punch of antioxidants. For years, I have ordered a triple-tall-nonfat-latte-with-one-Splenda and a whole-wheat-egg-white-turkey-bacon-sandwich thinking that I was treating myself to a well-balanced, high-protein, calcium-laden breakfast that would push me through the entire morning. In actuality, I was feeding myself over-processed meat and cheese, refined grains masked by brown bread and a drink full of dairy products that made me bloat. Fail. Fail. Fail.
Starbucks, you fail my Delicious Things standard. Thank goodness I’m not a stockholder anymore.