Alfred is one of the busiest coffee shops in Los Angeles, and it’s certainly one of the most photographed. The now-famous Insta tag #Butfirstcoffee was originally coined for the twee shop, and on any given day you walk into the Melrose storefront you’re likely to see an A-list star, an Insta-famous “model,” and the next big screenwriter hard at work on their future film.
But Alfred isn’t just a see-and-be-seen coffee spot—it has also positioned itself as a healthy-ish hangout, thanks to a refrigerator stocked with cold-pressed juice and vegan fare as well as the best quality nut milk for their very popular almond milk lattes. But just how much better for you is an almond milk latte versus the real thing?
If you’ve ever wondered which is the “best” healthy coffee drink to order, we’ve got you covered. Keep scrolling to see what you should sip next time you take a coffee break.
Typically tacking a “skinny” prefix onto the name of drink is a sign that said beverage will likely contain artificial sweeteners and non-fat milk. On paper, it probably has a lower calorie count than anything else on the menu … But it’s also loaded with chemicals and low in any real nutrients. Studies show that ingesting artificial sweetener (like stevia, Splenda, Truvia, and Sweet N’ Low) actually tricks our bodies into craving more sugar. So if you order one of these drinks for breakfast in an attempt to cut calories and satisfy your sweet tooth, don’t be surprised if you get a gnarly craving for something sugary a few hours later.
You’re better off opting for a regular latte with whole milk and a pump of flavoring (although you should skip the flavor if you can!)—it might be a little higher in calories, but whole milk is more filling, contains more protein, and has more nutrients like calcium and magnesium that will help you stay satisfied for longer.
Looks and tastes like a milkshake, but with half the calories … Sounds too good to be true, right? That’s because it is. Reading the ingredient list on Starbucks’ Coffee Light Frappuccino practically requires a chemistry degree—the “light frappuccino syrup” contains water, sugar, fructose, natural flavors, salt, carrageenan, xanthan gum, maltodextrin, potassium sorbate, citric acid, and rebaudioside A. Yeah … what? Most of these ingredients are made in a lab (yuck!) and don’t add any nutrition to your drink.
A skinny frap is probably OK every once in a while, but contains 23 grams of sugar. That number is big enough to throw your blood sugar levels seriously out of whack and cause things like fatigue, hormone dysfunction, hunger, and even acne breakouts.
Although it’s been advertised as a healthier alternative to dairy milk, soy has its own problems. Because it’s high in phytoestrogens—natural, plant-based compounds that mimic the role of estrogen—eating too much soy can mess with your body’s hormonal balance. Plus, a cup of soy milk actually contains more calories than a cup of whole milk, so if you’re cutting out dairy to lose weight you might want to think again.
Avoid soy products if you’re prone to hormonal imbalances or adrenal fatigue, and note that soy has also been linked to chronic inflammation, so it’s best to limit your intake.
Let’s be honest—almond milk lattes are ultra-trendy right now. But is it worth it to spend the extra $2-$3 on almond milk over regular milk? If you have an issue digesting dairy (or you’re vegan), then probably. Otherwise, opting for almond milk over regular whole milk will only save you about 40 calories. Swapping almond for whole milk in your latte won’t be the magic bullet that helps you instantly drop weight, but it can be a healthier choice for those who want an organic, antibiotic-free option in lieu of conventional dairy milk.
If you’re really trying to cut calories in your morning cup of joe, you’re better off drinking regular coffee with a splash of cream.
Last but certainly not least, matcha tea lattes! The darling drink of yogis and healthy Instagrammers everywhere, matcha is in a league of its own when compared with coffee. If you’re strictly looking at calories, a cup of matcha tea and a cup of coffee both have less than 10 calories per serving. But matcha is packed with antioxidants, fiber, chlorophyll, vitamins, minerals, and even fat-burning compounds—it’s so loaded with the good stuff, it’s a veritable superfood!
If you’re looking for something more substantial, a small matcha latte made with almond or whole milk is less than 150 calories and will easily satisfy your cravings for something sweet and caffeinated.