What's in your festive hot drink?

The arrival of the high-street coffee shop festive menu is a sure sign Christmas is coming. There are colourful cups and festive cheer-aplenty - but what health hazards lurk inside?

It’s easy to overlook the fat and sugar that comes in our drinks, but if they’re a regular part of your diet they can have a big impact. At this time of year every coffee shop is offering seasonal specials. Of course, it’s fine to indulge every now and again, but you might want to make some healthier swaps if these are a regular part of your routine. We highlight the nutritional content of some festive favourites at the three biggest coffee chains, and give our top tips for making your hot drink choices more heart-healthy.

Hot chocolate

There are lots of different types of festive drinks – we’ve looked at a selection, but all coffee shops will have their own varieties. The drinks we’ve listed contain more calories than a chocolate bar or a typical mince pie, and in some cases more calories than two portions of Christmas pudding.

Costa Coffee

Ones to watch out for:

Mint hot chocolate. Large, with whole milk:

Energy – 2713kJ, 648kcal. Fat – 29.6, of which saturates – 18.7g. Sugars – 64g.

Orange hot chocolate. Regular, with whole milk:

Energy – 1734kJ, 414kcal. Fat – 20.3g, of which saturates – 12.9. Sugars – 38.5g

Honeycomb latte. Regular, with whole milk:

Energy – 1674kJ, 374kcal. Fat – 20.9g, of which saturates 13.2. Sugars – 33.6g

Costa hot chocolate

The healthy alternative: Mint tea 

Energy – 13kJ, 3kcal. Fat – 0.1g, of which saturates - 0.1g. Sugars – 0.3g

Cup of mint tea


Ones to watch out for:

Gingerbread latte. Large, with whole milk:

Energy – 1655kJ, 394kcal. Fat – 19.8g, of which saturates – 12.1g. Sugars – 38g

Egg Nog Latte. Regular, with semi-skimmed milk:

Energy – 1041kJ, 248kcal. Fat – 10.7g, of which saturates – 10g. Sugars – 32.1g

Toffee nut frappucino. Regular, with semi-skimmed milk:

Energy – 1074kJ, 256kcal. Fat 10.2g, of which saturates – 5.8. Sugars – 36.2g

Starbucks Christmas cups

The healthy alternative: Steamed milk with sugar free syrup. Regular, with skimmed milk:

Energy – 447kJ, 107kcal. Fat – 0.3g, of which saturates 0.2g. Sugars – 15.4g

Cup of hot milk

Caffe Nero

Ones to watch out for:

Tiramisu latte. Regular, with semi-skimmed milk and cream:

Energy – 1317kJ, 315kcal. Fat – 20.9g, of which saturates - 12.18g. Sugars – 23.6g

Praline hot chocolate. Regular, with semi-skimmed milk and cream:

Energy – 1925kJ, 460kcal. Fat – 22.4g, of which saturates- 14g. Sugars – 53.3g

Spiced orange latte. Regular, with semi-skimmed milk and cream:

Energy – 1365kJ, 326kcal. Fat – 21.6g, of which saturates – 13.2g. Sugars – 24.5g


The healthy alternative: Latte. Regular, with skimmed milk and no cream.

Energy – 216kJ, 51kcal. Fat – 0.5g, of which saturates- 0.2g. Sugars – 7.2g

Regular latte

If you're fancying a tiramisu flavour, why not wait till dessert and try our delicious heart-healthy version of tiramisu.

  • Most coffee chains have the nutritional information for their products available in store, online, or both. If we haven't listed your favourite here, you could look up the details to find out more about what you're drinking. 

Top tips

When you’re ordering your hot drinks, follow our tips:

1. Hold the cream

Cream is very high in calories and saturated fat, so avoid adding it to your drink, along with any marshmallows or syrup on top which are high in sugar.

2. Go skinny

Asking for skimmed milk rather than whole will reduce the fat and calorie content of your drink, although if you have gone for a sweet drink like hot chocolate or a coffee with flavoured syrup then it won’t change the amount of added sugar in your cup. 

Take our quiz to find out more about milk.

3. Make it a small one

When we talk about a ‘cup’ of coffee, we’re usually talking about the amount you find in a traditional teacup, but on the high street a ‘regular’ size could actually be twice as big. Think twice before ‘going large’ - you’ll consume less saturated fat, sugar and calories, and be left with more money in your pocket.

4. Say no to the tempting treats

As well as the fancy drink flavours, coffee shops will often try to tempt you with treats to go alongside your cuppa. But your drink may contain as many calories as a small meal already, and adding a muffin or mince pie will add even more calories, fat and sugar. Why not make your own, more heart-healthy Christmas treats at home? Or try our seven sweet treats with none of the guilt.

More useful information