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At what point does a cup of coffee stop being a cup of coffee? Probably at the point you add caramel brûlée flavoring to it followed by a ridiculous amount of corn syrup and whipped cream on top. 

I don’t get our country’s and society’s obsession with oversized, unhealthy, sugar-saturated beverages that are marketed as “coffee.” Doctors and the media will list many nutritional reasons for our growing obesity rate — fast food meals, the high cost of healthy food, and consumption of soda are often cited as some dietary culprits. But confectionery beverages such as the variety sold at Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks are not to be overlooked. And as far as I’m concerned, most of these can’t be considered coffee — at least not in the traditional sense. A coffee drink should be comprised of freshly brewed java, with some optional dairy and sweetening. How can you even taste the brewed coffee in the drink when it’s buried by the flavors of white chocolate and enough sugar to send the healthiest person into diabetic shock?

It used to be the above coffees from General Foods were the start of the flavored coffee craze, in the ’80s. I remember these — they were actually pretty good for instant coffee, and kept things simple.

Today, Starbucks has over 50 current varieties alone of its frozen frappuccino beverage listed on its website. I remember when Starbucks first introduced the frappuccino; I loved them. At that time they were merely slushy frozen coffee made with milk and sugar. Now they have a Red Velvet Cake Creme Frappuccino Blended Creme, a Strawberry Shortcake Frappuccino Blended Creme, and a Cotton Candy Creme Frappuccino Blended Creme. I tried to find the combination that sounded the most sickly sweet and ridiculous; I think the Frappula Creme Frappuccino may be a contender. Here’s the description:

White chocolate sauce, milk and ice are blended together then layered on top of mocha sauce and a dollop of whipped cream. Finished with a drizzle of raspberry syrup and whipped cream for a drink so good, it’s scary. 

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You bet it’s scary. I’d be scared for my health after sucking one of those down! So basically, it sounds like there really isn’t any coffee in this drink — just different syrup combinations, whipped cream, and sugar. Yay for American taste buds and waistlines! The calorie content for a 16 ounce grande size of this beverage made with whole milk is 450; I actually thought it would be higher, around the 600 calorie mark. The sugar content is a whopping 56 grams. To put that in perspective, you could have a whole cup of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream which contains 42 grams of sugar for roughly the same amount of calories. 

Such beverages aren’t coffee; they’re desserts. Not to mention these drinks aren’t very manly. Could you imagine a man from the ’50s, ’60s, or ’70s drinking such a concoction? What about Dale Cooper from Twin Peaks, who took his coffee black? “Diane, I sure could use a pick-me-up. I’m on my way to the diner. Nothing quite hits the spot like a Butterfinger mocha with chocolate syrup, almond milk, and extra whipped cream. Damn fine cup of sugary garbage!”

Photo by Goran Ivos on Unsplash

Let’s stop this insanity, folks. Just give me a regular ol’ cup of Joe, hot during the winter and iced on occasional during the summer. A teaspoon or two of sugar — depending on the size — and some milk and cream, thanks. 

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About The Author:

Pamela Sosnowski

Pamela Sosnowski

Pamela Sosnowski is a Boston area freelance writer and blogger who blames the Beatles for sparking her fascination with all things nostalgic, particularly from the mid 20th century. When she's not writing, she enjoys exploring the New England area, drawing, and doting on her three spoiled cats. View her writing portfolio at pamelasosnowski.com.

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