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The Best & Worst of the UK's Coffee Chains (Menu Health Hacks Pt. 3)

Ottis Bailey -  March 2022

What would you do without your daily coffee? If you said curl up into an unproductive ball and hit "snooze", you’re not alone. 

The average Brit spends over £2,000 a year each in coffee shops, with the average visit lasting 1 1/2 hours. So maybe our parents were right about us blowing our house deposits on avacado toast and frappuccino's? Oops. 

Top nutritionists have warned that the likes of Starbucks, Cafe Nero and Costa could be as unhealthy as fast food chains, with super high and addictive sugar content being swept under the rug. 

But, aside from sticking to the plain Americano with no sugar (obviously the classiest option), how can we enjoy our coffee run whilst staying health-conscious? 

Take a look at our list of worst offenders, plus best alternatives below!


No one really talks about how full of SUGAR some of the most popular Starbucks coffee's are is. Before you even add sugar to some of these drinks, they contain up to 2x your RDA of sugar.

The worst options:

White Chocolate Mocha

A huge dose of sugar for what otherwise sounds like quite an innocent choice. 

The White chocolate mocha from starbucks provides 37g of sugar in the TALL size and nearly 60g in the Venti size. That's double your daily allowance of sugar. Wowsers. Avoid. 

If you're going to drink one of these, consider it your desert, so don't snack on a cookie too. The combo will bring you in to triple your daily allowance of sugar (Chocolate Chunk Cookie contains 27g of Sugar)

Java Chip Frappuccino 

This baby, whilst delicious (who doesn't love chocolate orange?) has over 69 grams of sugar! (Venti size - the biggest).

That's way over DOUBLEyour RDA of sugar (30g).

If you absolutely have to have a frappucino, go for the matcha tea one, but treat it like a desert, and make it a small or medium. It's the best of an admittedly bad bunch. 

Best to forgo the whipped cream, too ;) 

The best options:

Latte Macchiato with Almond Milk:

Almond milk is low in calories, and naturally rich in several vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin E. It's not as nutritious as cow's milk, but it's the next best thing and has low fats and sugarstoo. 

Although there's controversy about the high water usage needed to make almond milk, so if you're an eco-warrior, you might need to do some more research about the best option for you!

74 calories, 3.2g of fat, 6.6g of sugar, 2.1g of protein

Café Misto with Skimmed Milk

A healthy take on the Latte, the french call this one simply "café au lait". This nifty little coffee is  loaded with less dairy than it's big sister, the latte, keeping fat content at rock bottom, at 0.2g.

It also contains drip coffee, instead of espresso, and the same ratio of milk. 

Misto keeps the calories and fats low, with:

47 calories, 0.2g of fat, 6.6g of sugar, 4.7g of protein


 If you want the healthiest iced coffee experience, Starbucks Nitro Coffee is a great alternative to a Frappuccino. It's infused with nitrogen to give the beverage a smooth and velvety texture. Nitro Cold Brew is cold right out of the tap and served unsweetened without ice, a welcome change from the super sugary frappes. 

Cafe Nero

Cafe Nero — the Italian option. If you read our piece on Italian food, you should know that there's a certain trend with Italian cuisine and sat fats. Let's see if the coffee holds up.

The worst options:

The Caramelatte

This sat-fat and sugar monster comprises espresso, a shot of vanilla syrup and steamed milk, topped with whipped cream and caramel sauce.

The addition of vanilla syrup gives this latte a high sugar content of about nine teaspoons. You could order it without the caramel sauce if you really want something sweet but don’t want to go all-out, but we recommend avoiding altogether. Just get a caramel macchiato instead. 

Calories: 457 Saturated fat: 14g Sugar: 40.2g 

Raspberry & White Choco Frappe Crème

Don't let the relatively low cal count (141 calories) fool you, this is Café Nero's worst offender for sugar content, hands down with 46g of sugar. 

That's 1 and a half times your complete recommended daily sugar intake in one day.

The Hazelnut & Chocolate Frappe  Crème is similarly packed with sugar and fats, despite it's "healthier sounding" nutty name.

The best options:

A simple Cappuccino (Skimmed Milk)

Nothing beats the simple classic— Cappuccino. It's even fun to say. 

Did you know Nero does a skimmed milk option, which keeps the calories and fats down? 

It's only got 27 calories, 3.8g of sugar, and 0.1g of sat fats.

Latte, regular (Semi-Skimmed) 

Add a sugar free flavour shot if you feel like you need something to spice up your coffee run. 

It's nearly as good as a full on Pumpkin spice, everything nice, ALL-the-sugar Frap. Promise.

74 calories, 7.2g of sugar & 1.7g of sat fats. 

That's a far-cry from our RDA topping alternatives in the iced coffee section.


Costa, it's kind of like Marmite — some say it tastes burnt and straight up bad, others swear by it. Which camp are you in? 

The worst option:

Mint Choc Chip Frostino & cream (with whole milk)

We know, Mint Chocolate Chip is the best. But this frostino is less a coffee than an indulgent dessert in a cup! It contains 43g of sugar and 3/4 of our recommended saturated fat intake for the day. This amount of sugar and sat fats over time are gonna lead to weight gain and tooth decay. 

Calories: 457 Fat: 25g Saturated fat: 15.7g Sugar: 43.2g 

Winner winner:

Coffee Frostino 

To satisfy your ice-coffee cravings without splurging on a huge flavoured frappé, consider the simple Frostino first. 

The Soya version has just 13.1g of Sat fats in the medium size, and 8.6g of sugar. This is about as good as a milky cold coffee can get at Costa. 

Next Week...

We move on from the menu hacks, to the topic of how to get restorative rest. It's so important to rest properly, rather than chilling stressfully, wouldn't you agree? 

Check back in next time to read all about it!