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My Favorite Low-Calorie Coffee Drinks

by Meghann on February 9, 2012

I have a confession to make. Over the course of the year I went from coffee hater to coffee drinker. I survived high school, college, my first job, and even several 4:30am wake-up calls for long runs without drinking a drop, but as soon as I became self employed – and began working from coffee shops – the coffee love took over.

It started innocently enough with a BBC Caramello from Buddy Brew Coffee that led to a non-fat iced coffee from Starbucks to a latte from Sophie’s to a string of various other espresso and brewed coffee drinks from all over.

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Oh yes. Now I look at these fancy coffee drinks with a look of longing. Hello, beautiful latte – why must you taste so good?

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The problem is, this new-found addiction comes with a hefty price tag for both my wallet and my waistline. I can justify the price of the coffee because I’m technically ‘renting’ the coffee shop space and the ‘free’ wifi with my purchase, but the empty calories? Those were starting to take their toll.

When I noticed I was gaining weight this fall, one of the things I looked to cut back on was my new coffee intake. A cup of black coffee isn’t bad, but if you throw in the yummy steamed milk, froth, and various other fun elements – it begins to add up.

Here’s a few of my low(er) calorie ‘fun’ coffee faves

(calorie counts via Starbucks.com)

Grande Non-Fat Latte

Calories: 130

Description: espresso in steam milk with foam.

Tip: Top with cinnamon for a little spice. Do NOT top with nutmeg – it kills the foam.

Grande Non-Fat Cappuccino

Calories: 80

Description: espresso in steam milk with foam

Tip: Pick the cappuccino over the latte. There’s more espresso, less steamed milk, and more froth which is why the calorie count is a bit lower. Plus it tastes the same to me. :)

Tall Non-Fat Misto with Dark Roast

Calories: 60

Description: Brewed coffee with steamed milk

Tip: The darker roast is a bit richer in flavor and semi-resembles the espresso for a fake out latte or cappuccino at a lower price tag.

Grande Non-Fat Unsweetened Iced Coffee

Calories: Unknown. The calculator only spits out for sweetened version on Starbucks.

Description: coffee over ice

Tip: If you want it sweetened, ask for a single pump of sweetener instead of the traditional three or four. You still get the sweetened taste you desire, but you’re not being hit with as many calories. Also, request the coffee black and add your own milk so you can control how much goes in.

All of these drinks are sweetener free. I’m actually not a huge fan of sweetened tea or coffee and usually make a face when I try a sip of Derek’s coffee concoctions (he does two creamers and two splendas in a regular cup). To be fair, he makes a face when he tries my drinks too. :)

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What are your favorite light(er) coffee options? Are you a sweet coffee drinker? Just milk? Straight up black?

From coffee to lunch.

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Random salad for the win. :)

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  • mixed greens
  • stir-fry mix of brussels sprouts, carrots, and turkey
  • goat cheese
  • avocado
  • salsa

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Lightly toasted tortilla.

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Brides Against Breast Cancer

My good friend Rachel introduced me to the Bride Against Breast Cancer organization a couple of weeks ago and I immediately emailed them regarding upcoming volunteer opportunities. Unfortunately their Tampa event falls on the same weekend as my brother’s wedding, so I won’t be able to volunteer in person, but I’m more than happy to help get the word out.

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If you are a Tampa Bay area bride-to-be looking for a dress, I urge you to check the Brides Against Breast Cancer Wedding Gown Sale next weekend. All the donated dresses are marked at a reduced price and proceeds help ensure that people impacted by cancer have the resources and information they need in their battle with cancer.

And if you’re not a bride in the Tampa area, check out the list of upcoming shows for opportunities to donate your own dress, volunteer, or attend a show in your area.

This is a great cause and I look forward to working with this organization more in the future!

{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

1 jenna February 9, 2012 at 3:05 pm

i love non-fat mistos w bold roast! but my usual order at sbucks is a grande iced cofee w 2 pumps sugarfree cinnamon dolce. since artificial sweetener ain’t too hot for you, no reason to have the 4-7 pumps they put into a given sized drink. in general though, sweet coffee doesn’t do it for me. if i didn’t have to watch calories i’d probably load my coffee up with cream instead of the splash of nonfat milk i use. i love a french vanilla iced coffee from dunkin extremely. “i’ll have a medium iced cream with a splash of coffee please”… just kidding.

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2 Jenna February 9, 2012 at 3:06 pm

i love non-fat mistos w bold roast! but my usual order at sbucks is a grande iced cofee w 2 pumps sugarfree cinnamon dolce. since artificial sweetener ain’t too hot for you, no reason to have the 4-7 pumps they put into a given sized drink. in general though, sweet coffee doesn’t do it for me. if i didn’t have to watch calories i’d probably load my coffee up with cream instead of the splash of nonfat milk i use. i love a french vanilla iced coffee from dunkin extremely light. “i’ll have a medium iced cream with a splash of coffee please”… just kidding.

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3 christine @ BookishlyB February 9, 2012 at 3:06 pm

I started drinking iced coffee last summer and bought a coffee maker a few months ago. I have a big mug on the way to work with a Diet Hot Chocolate package mixed in- only like 25 calories! Sweet without being rich and super cheap (less than 50 cents a cup).

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4 Lindsey February 9, 2012 at 3:10 pm

I always need milk and a sweetener… At home I use a little vanilla syrup and unsweetened almond milk. At Starbucks I always get a skinny cinnamon dolce latte :) I always try and get soy or skim milk when I am buying latte’s out as a calorie saver :)
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5 Megan February 9, 2012 at 3:10 pm

I am a non fat misto girl!!! I used to be able to drink just straight coffee with a little sweetener, but that all changed!
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6 Mary @ food and fun on the run February 9, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Iced Americanos are great. It is just espresso and water, and then you add cream or milk to it. I think it tastes very similar to a latte, and with a fraction of the calories!
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7 tara February 9, 2012 at 3:11 pm

love this post!!! I’ve been on the hunt for some new calorie friendly starbucks drinks and now I have some on my list to try. Just what I needed!

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8 Olivia February 9, 2012 at 3:17 pm

I do black! Just in the morning usually. Afternoons I prefer tea – also black, or just herbal teas, on their own.
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9 Maureen February 9, 2012 at 3:24 pm

I LOVE making fun coffee drinks! That salad looks amazing…I want one for MY lunch now!
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10 Jamie @ Don't Forget the Cinnamon February 9, 2012 at 3:26 pm

I usually just get plain old brewed coffee and drink it black but if I want something a little fancier, I’ll sometimes order a bone dry cappuccino!
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11 Sarah February 9, 2012 at 3:29 pm

what a great charity! My favorite low calorie coffee drink is the non-fat vanilla latte :)

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12 Elizabeth February 9, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Black coffee all the way! I love the aroma and the richness of pure coffee beans and the taste is just wonderful!

It is just amazing to me how we all have different likings towards something!

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13 The Rhoton Family February 9, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Have you ever tried Starbucks Carmel Apple Spice!!! To Die For! Not coffee, but oh so good!
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14 Martha February 9, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Former barista here- if you go to Starbucks and order an iced coffee, they automatically put their simply syrup in it (so it is sadly not sweetener free). That’s why their are 110 calories in a grande as opposed to 0 calories in a grande black coffee. You can just say unsweetened (as in “grande unsweetened iced coffee”) and then it’s calorie free! (Unsweetened iced coffee + soy milk = best summer drink ever. )

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15 Martha February 9, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Ughhh I meant simple syrup not simply syrup.

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16 Meghann February 9, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Oh! And there are still calories in the milk or creamer so that’s where they would come from unless you order it black

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17 Meghann February 9, 2012 at 5:24 pm

I usually ask for it unsweetened. I think the Starbucks Calorie Calculator is broken because when I enter Non-fat Unsweetened and it spits out the same stats as sweetened. http://www.starbucks.com/menu/drinks/brewed-coffee/iced-coffee-with-milk#size=11002199&milk=61&sweetened=0 But thanks for the heads up – I edited my post to reflect that error and add the unsweetened verbage :)

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18 Jessica @ Sushi and Sit-Ups February 9, 2012 at 3:47 pm

One of my best friends got her wedding dress at a Brides Against Breast Cancer event. It was beautiful!
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19 ~Jessica~ February 9, 2012 at 3:48 pm

My coffee addiction has been playing havoc with my weight too (well, among other things…) – until last year I never even drank caffeinated tea! I always go for soy milk, but my switch from cappuccinos to mochas really took its toll, particularly given that I always order the largest size. It started to make me so hyper that I developed a tic above my eye (I’m an insomniac anyway!) so I’m *trying* to limit them to treats. I love me some sugar free syrup though…I don’t care if it’s going to poison me or something in the long run. Everyone needs a vice…or ten, in my case.

xxx

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20 Caitlin @ Chasing A Mile February 9, 2012 at 3:57 pm

I am glad you included the misto. It is my favorite, but I don’t do bold coffee because it will give me heartburn! At some coffee places they call it cafe au lait.
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21 Anne February 9, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Grande iced coffee is not 110 calories- it is 10 calories- unless they put the sweetener in. I am drinking one right now and my heart almost jumped out of my chest!

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22 Meghann February 9, 2012 at 5:28 pm

You’re right. Well, depending on how much milk you put in it. The calculator on the Starbucks site is broken http://www.starbucks.com/menu/drinks/brewed-coffee/iced-coffee-with-milk#size=11002199&milk=61&unsweetened=0

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23 Maddie February 9, 2012 at 3:59 pm

I live for coffee, and I take mine black…like my soul. Just kidding :) But black is where it’s at. I’ve recently discovered Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, and their dark roast is life-changing. Mmmm.
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24 Rachel February 9, 2012 at 4:05 pm

I’m a coffee + cream gal myself. But the coffee itself better be good–I’m a total bean snob (aka Seattlite!).

My favorite drink when I’m craving something warm but light is a soy latte. The nuttiness and slight sweetness from the soymilk eliminates the need for syrups, and the nutritional profile is nice: protein, but not a lot of fat.
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25 Jana @ Newly Wife Healthy Life February 9, 2012 at 4:08 pm

I like my coffee I brew at home black with no add-ins! If I order a fun drink out though, I always order ‘half pump’ for mochas, flavored lattes, etc. I do want to try Starbucks’ new skinny mocha though!
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26 Allie February 9, 2012 at 4:13 pm

I love Brides Against Breast Cancer! After my wedding, I donated my dress to them, and haven’t regretted it at all. What would I do with a silly old wedding dress hanging in my closet? Besides, I have all the pics of the day to remember it by.

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27 Kristen February 9, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Welcome to my world, I LOOOVE Coffee! I brew at home since I rarely have time for the coffee shop before work…I like a little milk (where it’s at that perfect beige color) and some Splenda or sometimes a touch of cream for sweetness.

Thanks for the low-cal ideas, I will try them out next time I splurge on coffee.

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28 Talia @ Bite Size Wellness February 9, 2012 at 4:34 pm

I swear we think about the same things in the same time frame. I was just saying I needed to do a coffee post about my addiction! My go-to is an iced Americano which is ZERO calories because it is just espresso and water. I add a small drop of non-fat creamer sometimes, but I have learned to like the strong coffee taste over the milky, frothy sweetened additions that show up on my hips.
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29 Liz @ Tip Top Shape February 9, 2012 at 4:41 pm

I first learned about soy mistos from Carrots n Cake and it is my go-to now. Low in calories and I think the soy gives it a latte taste. Also reasonably priced!
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30 Meghann February 9, 2012 at 5:29 pm

I used to do soy too, but my family history with thyroid issues made me switch back to regular milk

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31 Cait February 9, 2012 at 4:43 pm

This post is awesome – thanks! I have a serious penchant for weekend afternoon lattes that I’m trying to kick. I’m looking forward to trying out some of your tips.

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32 Kristine February 9, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Brides Against Breast Cancer is a great organization! I donated my wedding dress to them!
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33 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats February 9, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Whenever I actually find a coffee shop with almond milk (I can’t have soy or normal milk), I love to order a misto with just one pump sugar free flavoring. Any more than one pump is WAY too sweet for me!
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34 Errign February 9, 2012 at 4:50 pm

I work aps a barista, so this post made me smile (and I don’t even drink coffee). In my shop, cappuccinos have the same amount of espresso as lattes, lattes just have more milk due to foam in capps. Another option is adding sugar-free syrups which are sweetened with Splenda and cal-free (if you are okay with Splenda – I’m not haha!)
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35 Sheri February 9, 2012 at 4:53 pm

I really don’t look at a latte as an empty calorie treat- I often have lattes as my snack. The milk is super filling for me. I don’t get syrups or add any sweeteners. My favorite is a cappuccino with 2% milk. Skim doesn’t do it for me!

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36 Alaina February 9, 2012 at 4:54 pm

I used to love getting latte’s but they just became too sweet for me.

My happy coffee drink is a tall or grande nonfat misto with 2 pumps of sugar free flavors. :-)
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37 Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife February 9, 2012 at 5:22 pm

Great charity event!

I don’t drink coffee—so I don’t have to worry about any of that, I guess! I love herbal tea and water. YUMM
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38 emily February 9, 2012 at 5:43 pm

I am a black coffee drinker, and if I want a coffee treat I get a starbucks skinny vanilla latte. That’s like once per month… tops. Lol. My advice is to learn to drink black coffee. Its cheaper too!
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39 Hillary February 9, 2012 at 5:50 pm

A little skim milk and some stevia is all I need—which is a huuuuge improvement over my original favorite coffee combination: extra extra (which is Rhode Island slang for extra sugar, extra cream. Not so healthy!)
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40 Ajay February 9, 2012 at 6:34 pm

The calories always come from the milk or the syrups… best thing if you’re watching your weight and don’t want black coffee, is a macchiato – an espresso shot with a small dash of milk, or a piccolo latte which only uses the first 15 or so seconds of the extraction (naturally the sweetest) and small amount of milk. I’d find somewhere that does a decent coffee for that though, not a starbucks!

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41 Jena February 9, 2012 at 6:41 pm

I make my own coffee @ home. Boring Folgers w/ 1 stevia & a splash of unsweetened vanilla almond milk. I use 2% milk @ work bc my mini fridge isn’t big enough for a carton of almond milk. — After my long runs on Saturdays I go to Dunkin Donuts & get a iced carmel latte lite w/ no sugar & no whip cream. . I prefer to make coffee @ home that way I know exactly what’s in it.
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42 Maria February 9, 2012 at 7:52 pm

My fiance makes ridiculously sweet coffee concoctions as well whereas I take mine black or with a splash of non-fat milk. Mmm, coffee.
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43 Lindsay @ Running the Windy City February 9, 2012 at 8:10 pm

I always order a plain coffee with a soy steamed topper. It’s basically a misto with less milk and it’s added after the coffee not before which makes it really foamy. You also drink the coffee through the milk so you get a little bit with each sip.

Lately I’ve been ordering it with the Starbucks Blonde roast, such a good combo!
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44 Faith February 9, 2012 at 8:26 pm

I loooove Americanos. Strong, rich, and about 10 calories! When I add a pump of hazelnut – my fave – it still doesn’t top 70-80

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45 Deva @ Deva by Definition February 9, 2012 at 8:29 pm

I’m a fan of tall, non-fat lattes or macchiatos – not from Starbucks. At home, I make coffee with about a tablespoon of real heavy cream. SO. GOOD.
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46 Sarah February 9, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Hi! Former Starbuck’s barista here …
First off, I just wanted to make sure you knew that there really is not more espresso in a cappuccino – a latte and a cappuccino have the exact same number of shots per size. It just tastes a little stronger in the cappuccino because there is less milk.
My favorite drink is an Americano Misto with soy. It’s like a misto, but instead of coffee it is shots of espresso and half hot water half soy. It’s not on the menu, and depending on your barista they may look at you like you are nuts because they haven’t heard of it or haven idea how to charge it … but it can be done :)

There are so many “hidden” calories in those drinks – sometimes I wondered if people would order the same thing if I told them how many calories they were actually drinking.

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47 Meghann February 9, 2012 at 10:48 pm

Thanks for the tip Sarah! I’m going to try that next time!

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48 Katie @ Talk Less, Say More February 9, 2012 at 9:51 pm

My coffee drink of choice is a soy misto. I like black coffee (depending how it’s brewed and the kind of coffee) but a misto always makes me happy. On occasion I splurge on a soy latte but that’s VERY rarely. Iced coffee with soy milk is another go-to if I’m in the mood for cold coffee. And no sugar please… ;)
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49 Joss February 9, 2012 at 9:54 pm

coffee with a little bit of half and half..or a regular latte with no sugar or sweetner for me!

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50 Reenie February 9, 2012 at 10:44 pm

I like plain lattes. Sometimes I get a flavor in them. But I love my frother I use at home ~ so easy and not expensive. :)

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0013VALOK/?tag=googhydr-20&hvadid=19590460789&ref=pd_sl_3iu12hbnrr_b

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51 Cait's Plate February 9, 2012 at 11:09 pm

Hahaha I support the coffee addiction! My go-to is a misto – just as good as a latte or a cappuccino but nowhere near as pricey or calorie heavy!
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52 Whitney February 10, 2012 at 12:03 am

I’m a big coffee drinker but usually mix up my order depending on my mood. I switched to mistos for Starbucks drinks and get it with soy milk for a splash of flavor. I cut out artificial sweeteners (hot coffee) & brown sugar (iced coffee) last summer….I notice it the most in expresso drinks which is why I also mix up milk options. My office coffee requires 1/2 & 1/2 though – especially if no sugar!
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53 Autumn February 10, 2012 at 3:25 am

Love the coffee suggestions! I find myself with the same problem…I love coffee but don’t want to spend precious calories on it. My love for coffee also developed slowly…I started with half coffee/half hot chocolates, then to lattes with two packets of sugar, to the hardcore brew I go for now…americano with a splash of milk. I’m officially a coffee drinker!

When I deserve a special treat, I go for a tall Caffe Vanilla Frappuccino Light, no whipped cream, and I ask for a small scoop of chocolate chips. Under 200 calories and YUM!

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54 JessicaE February 10, 2012 at 3:04 pm

I’m a bit of a control freak, so unless its a special occasion I like to order my coffee plain or black and then doctor it up myself!

A great way to control the calories and save money is to purchase the flavored syrups yourself. Then you make the spendy lattes etc at home. <3

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55 Coco March 10, 2012 at 3:08 pm

I Love Coffee.. It’s pretty important to my everyday life. Sure I don’t actually NEED it to have energy (I have ADHD after all!) but there is just something about the ritual of my morning cup of joe.. However I also just love the taste of it.. mmm. My morning coffee is milk and a spoonful of chocolate malt Ovaltine these days.. but normally I just add a bit of milk and I’m good to go!
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