On 17th February, Action on Sugar published a report which found that the levels of sugar in hot drinks available at popular coffee chains were staggeringly high. These shocking revelations have brought real awareness to the amount of sugar included in some of the most popular drinks available on the high street over the past few weeks.

Costa’s Chai Latte and Starbucks’ Signature Hot Chocolate, have been reported as some of the worst offenders, containing an incredible 35 teaspoons of sugar combined!

Sugar is becoming an increasing health concern, with more and more nutritionists and doctors recommending a dramatic decrease in the amount of sugar we consume. Therefore, it is vital that you understand how much sugar you are consuming, and how best to reduce that amount. The information below provides guidance on some of the best and worst options when it comes to buying hot drinks.


The Top Worst Offenders

According to Action on Sugar’s recent report some of the top six drinks with the highest sugar content are as follows:

Café Drink Sugar (Tsp)
Starbucks Venti Hot Mulled Fruit (Grape, Chai, Orange & Cinnamon) 25
Costa Massimo (Eat In) Chai Latte 20
Starbucks Venti White Chocolate Mocha with Whipped Cream 18
Starbucks Venti Signature Hot Chocolate 15
KFC Mocha 15
Caffe Nero (Drink In) Caramelatte 13


In other words, with the recommended maximum daily intake of sugar being 30g, or 7 teaspoons, one single large Chai Latte from Costa Coffee is almost three times the amount of sugar considered safe to consume daily.

In fact, of the 131 hot drinks analysed, 55% contained or exceeded the recommended daily sugar intake of 7 teaspoons.


Other High-Sugar Drinks

It’s not just the large coffees covered in syrup and whipped cream you have to watch out for. Even small, relatively modest drinks could contain more sugar than you expect. Published with the report is a full list of the drinks and the findings. A few of those exposed as containing 7 teaspoons of sugar or more include:


Sugar and Your Health

Consuming too much sugar can have a detrimental effect on your health and well-being. It can lead to tooth decay, as well as weight-gain and obesity due to the high number of calories. This in turn can lead to:

  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Stroke

It is important to be aware of how much sugar is in your food by checking the labels and nutritional guides to ensure you do not regularly exceed your 30g/ 7 teaspoons a day.


Results of the Report

In response to the recent report, Starbucks has announced that they are committed to a plan to reduce added sugar in their ‘indulgent’ drinks by 25% by the end of 2020. They also urge that they have a wide variety of sugar-free sweeteners and syrups available to consumers.

Coffee shops and chains are being urged to immediately reduce the amount of sugar in hot drinks and cease the selling of extra-large beverages.


What You Can Do

It’s important to remember that high-sugar hot drinks should only be consumed once in a while, as a treat. If you tend to go for a large drink each day, try choosing standard drinks with as little sugar as possible, such as an Americano or tea. Or alternatively, choose a smaller sized drink with sugar-free syrups and sugar-free milk alternatives such as almond or soya milk.

With so much food containing a surprisingly high amount of sugar, exceeding your daily limit with an indulgent drink each day can pose a significant threat to your health. Take care when choosing drinks, and try to save the whipped cream and caramel sauce toppings as a special treat, once in a while.