Marshmallow-infused whip cream s’mores latte? Calorie counts help some decide


American University Starbucks customers wait in line. Photo by Madeline Jarrard.

American University Starbucks consumers have been provided with calorie count information at the campus location for years, but the impact of this information on consumer behavior is mixed.

Nationwide, Starbucks has required its stores post calorie counts next to drink names since June 2013. With that, Starbucks joined a host of other fast food chain restaurants giving customers what was supposed to be better nutritional information.

Coia Williams, 38, has been working at the campus Starbucks for three years and noted the counts are up. But customers relayed mixed feelings about the calorie count.

“I probably should watch my calories, but I don’t,” said Antia Horsey, 50, sitting on a bench outside of Starbucks holding a drink.

When asked about it, Horsey thought the calorie count was targeted to a younger generation that was extremely health conscious.

However, when asked some young customers brought a different perspective.

Helen Torres-Siclait, a 16-year-old Discover the World of Communication student, insisted that the calorie count was irrelevant to her.

“I have never looked at that in my life,” said Torres-Siclait laughing.

The calorie count never plays a part in her decision making at Starbucks. Torres-Siclait said that she picks whatever sounds most appetizing and that usually involves caramel and whipped cream.

Starbucks also lists nutrition information on its website, where a grande Caramel Brulee Latte contains 52 grams of sugars and 40 percent of a person’s daily recommended maximum saturated fat intake. A tall White Chocolate Mocha contains 400 calories compared to an iced version of the drink, which has 60 fewer calories.

Torres-Siclait may not worry about the content but, she noted some of her friends’ drink decisions are dependent on how many calories or grams of fat inside.

Maryam Khan, 19, works at the American University bookstore, just a couple floors up from the campus Starbucks. She explained that when she goes to the popular coffee store, she gets the most sugary drink that she can. As a college student she usually needs something to keep her awake into the late hours, she said. For her, the calorie count holds no weight.

Starbucks continues to introduce other sugary and high calorie drinks, like the new 500-calorie grande S’mores Frappuccino that comes with marshmallow-infused whip cream.

And those drinks are good for business.

According to Statista, Starbucks’ annual income has been on the rise each year since 2008, even with customers informed of the calorie count.

However, customers are sometimes swayed by the calorie count.

Heather Lynch, 49, walked around AU’s campus with a croissant and a tall cappuccino.

“I wanted to get a scone, but then I saw that the croissant was less,” Lynch said of the calories.