4 Things You Didn’t Know About Bottled Coffee Drinks

Although a plain cup of java runs about 50 calories, many brands add ingredients that can make you think twice before sipping. Here are four things coffee lovers should be aware of.
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Photo by: Satoe Michael

Satoe Michael

You can now pick up a canned or bottled cup of joe in many grocery stores around the country. Although a plain cup of java runs about 50 calories, many of these shelf brands add ingredients that should make you think twice before sipping. Here are four things coffee lovers should be aware of before grabbing a bottled coffee drink to go.

Go for Simple

If you’re looking for a plain cup of joe, your best bet is a bottle of cold-brewed coffee. Without any added ingredients it has about 10 to 15 calories per 8 fluid ounces. Or make your own with a few new cold-brew-at-home options. Some popular tasty brands include:

Kohana 
Check What’s Added

Many brands have started to jazz up their coffees by flavoring them. Starbucks 9.5-ounce Frappuccinos contain reduced-fat milk and sugar, for a total calorie count of 200. Bolthouse Farms Perfectly Protein Mocha Cappuccino Fresh contains low-fat milk, agave, sugar and whey protein, and comes in at 160 calories, 2.5 grams fat, 29 grams sugar and 7 grams protein.

Other brands may seem low in calories, but are using artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols to do so. For example, Starbucks Low-Calorie Iced Coffee + Milk uses sucralose (a sugar alcohol) to help slash calories to 50 per 11-fluid-ounce bottle. If you like flavor in your to-go coffee, it is best to check the nutrition facts panel.

Watch the Additives

Many coffee drinks add preservatives and additives. Illy Issimo Cappuccino isn’t too bad on the calories, at 110 per 9.5-ounce bottle. However, carrageenan is listed among the ingredients. This thickener and stabilizing agent has been categorized by The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) as “caution,” as studies have found that certain forms of the additive were linked to intestinal cancer and ulcerations in animals. Illy isn’t the only coffee drink with carrageenan; several other brands also use the additive.

It’s More Than Just a Drink

Many of these cold-brewed or plain coffee drinks are for more than just sipping. You can use them to make ice cream, add flavor to baked goods (like brownies and muffins), or mix into yogurt or add to smoothies.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

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