Are you among the thousands of Australians who can’t get going without your morning grind?

“Coffee is now the dominant hot drink in Australia with 2.1 billion cups bought from cafés and other vendors a year,” Oneperth.com.au reports.

It certainly is a life saver, but if you’re watching your weight, it’s not all just kicks and good news. You might be opting for healthy, low-fat meals but that cappuccino at breakfast, coffee with milk at 10am, caffe latté 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 dietician Martie de Wet, 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 mocha latte? And how does it compare with a basic cup of filter?

Coffee calorie cheat sheet


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.

Fat (g)Energy (kJ)Equals
Black coffeeInstant or ground coffee with no milk, no sugar0 g0 kJEnergy (kJ)
Filter coffee with milkFour parts coffee and one part milk, one spoon sugar3.32 g257.2 kJOne tablespoon of light mayonnaise or a teaspoon of cream cheese
Café mochaOne part espresso, three parts full-cream milk, two tablespoons cocoa powder and a dollop of cream14.92 g1 221.95 kJOne 250 g lasagne or 60 g peanuts and raisins or 45 g chocolate
Iced coffeeOne part espresso, one part full-cream milk, two tablespoons coffee creamer18.14 g1 480.4 kJOne medium-sized chicken pie or 30 g hot chips
CappuccinoOne part espresso, one part full-cream milk, one part foamed milk6.64 g514.4 kJThree baby potatoes with one tablespoon of sour cream or one portion of battered hake
Caffe lattéOne part espresso, three parts full-cream milk7g568 kJOne medium-sized slice of Hawaiian pizza or one medium-sized jam doughnut

Think before you drink


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 caffe lattés 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.

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 milk250 ml8.3643
Low-fat milk250 ml4.8520
Skimmed milk250 ml1.3390

Cut the cream


Choose foam over whipped cream and halve the kilojoule content of your cup. An average three tablespoons of cream contains 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 caffe lattés a day, give up a slice or two of bread to balance your overall energy intake.

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