I work at a coffee shop. I probably don’t even have to tell you the name of it, but will just say, chances are, there’s one near where you live. They are a really great company to work for, and for the most part, I really enjoy working there (I mean, I do scrub drains so it isn’t all wonderful).
We recently got in some new products. Two more sugar-free flavors-mocha and peppermint-to add to the four we already had to offer. Last night was the first time I worked when we had them. I am against artificially sweetened things, but I decided I should taste a sample anyway, in order to be familiar with it for customers, and to be able to describe it and make a comparison.
Personally, I thought it tasted terrible. It left that lingering artificial sweetener taste in my mouth for about two hours afterward, even when I sipped my own (with real chocolate, thank you!) beverage. I read some information that stated customers had been requesting these two flavors be offered in sugar-free form quite frequently.
As you probably can tell if you read my blog often, I am a coffee lover. I don’t just drink it for the morning energy boost, but I am also passionate about good, quality coffee and espresso, made just the right way. I also love a really good latte, and of course, the array of flavors they come in. In fact, the mocha and peppermint are one of my favorite combinations.
Now I get to the point… After experiencing the horrible aftertaste in my mouth, I got to wondering: “Why do we need more sugar-free?” I know there are many customers out there who would love it if all of our flavors came in a sugar-free alternative. I also know that there are some people, for example those with diabetes, who need to turn to alternative sweeteners on occasion in order to monitor their health. However, I also know that splenda, equal, sweet n’ low, etc. are used by many, many people as a means by which to diet. And this is where I get a little cranky.
I know what it is to crave a morning (and sometimes afternoon, as well) coffee. I know how important it can be to get through the day. I also know what it is like to have to watch how much sugar, fat, calories I consume. But my personal feeling, is that instead of turning to these artificial alternatives and their horrid aftertastes, we should instead learn to practice moderation. Is a drink with chocolate and peppermint in it really a morning coffee? Or is it more like dessert? I vote that it is the latter, and treat it as such. I don’t have one everyday, because it is a treat. So when I do have it, I have the real deal. (Sometimes I skip the whipped cream…it all depends on how much of a treat I feel I should have.)
Moderation is difficult to achieve. Especially with the world out there bombarding us with messages to consume, to shop, to collect all five. And obviously, this country in particular struggles to teach and to practice balance with food. I suggest that instead of looking for a way to allow ourselves to constantly indulge by artificially manufacturing a flavor, we teach ourselves to nourish our bodies regularly, and indulge more sparingly.
I know that some people might think “Well, I hate coffee unless it has a flavor, and I want to drink it everyday but I can’t drink it black like you.” This is a valid point. I suggest experimenting with other beverages like teas or Americanos, finding ways to tweak your latte so that you can enjoy it without splendifying it, or using the real sugar in the coffee and balancing that within your daily diet. I also know some people will tell me that they actually like the taste of that stuff. That is fine, but just remember that it is fake.
Why take something like chocolate, and try to deface it with a chemical treatment, in order to make it less indulgent, when that is what chocolate is? Why try to put it in the same category as a healthy breakfast food, when it belongs in the dessert category? I beg you…stop all the sugar-free madness and just practice a little moderation. By letting it be what it is meant to be, and saving it for a treat, I think you will love your flavored latte so much more.