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Cafes serving up to 25 hidden teaspoons in hot drinks

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SECRET SUGAR: Coffee shops are pumping huge amounts of sugar into their drinks, a campaign group has revealed

SECRET SUGAR: Coffee shops are pumping huge amounts of sugar into their drinks, a campaign group has revealed

Coffee shop sugar shock!

One third of hot drinks served in high-street chains contain staggering levels of sugar, the same amount - or even more - than Coca-Cola, according to campaign group Action on Sugar.

The group analysed 131 hot flavoured drinks, including hot chocolates, coffees, mochas, hot fruit drinks and lattes among other drinks that are purchased from some of the UK’s best-known coffee shops and fast-food chains.

If the coffee shops were forced to label their products, 98 per cent of the 131 hot flavoured drinks found in the big high street chains would carry a ‘red’ warning for excessive levels of sugar.

Action on Sugar revealed that Starbucks’s Hot Mulled Fruit (grape with chai, orange and cinnamon venti) was the sugariest drink.

At 25 teaspoons of sugar it contains more than three times the recommended maximum adult daily intake.

Costa’s largest chai latte was found to contain 20 teaspoons of sugar, while an extra large signature hot chocolate from Starbucks contained 15 teaspoons, double the daily adult maximum.

Approximately 20 per cent of the population visit a coffee shop on a daily basis, but most people will be unaware how much hidden sugar they are consuming in their flavoured drinks.

Starbucks told the Guardian it was committed to reducing added sugar in its drinks by 25 per cent by the end of 2020, and that ‘all nutritional information is available in-store and online’.

Costa said in April it would be setting salt and sugar reduction targets for 2020 and that it had already taken significant steps to reduce the sugar content of its ranges.

Professor Graham MacGregor, chair of Action on Sugar, said: “This is yet again another example of scandalous amount of sugar added to our food and drink. No wonder we have the highest rates of obesity in Europe.”

Action on Sugar researcher Kawther Hashem said coffee-shop chains should ‘immediately reduce the amount of sugar in these hot drinks, improve their labelling and stop selling the extra-large serving sizes’.

She added: “These drinks should be an occasional treat, not an ‘everyday’ drink. They are laden with an unbelievable amount of sugar and calories and are often accompanied by a high sugar and fat snack.”

The research comes ahead of the Government’s childhood obesity strategy, which is due to be unveiled in the coming weeks.


The Government think that junk-food adverts should be banned from being screened around ‘family programmes’ like ‘Britain’s Got Talent’.


A sugar tax has been proposed of up to 20 per cent and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has championed the move for companies to reformulate their products so that less sugar is used.