City Health Challenge: Serve Us Iced Coffees That Won’t Blow Our Diet!

Everyone loves a little flavor in their ice-cold joe, but why could our intrepid reporters only find one coffee house from the city to the suburbs serving it up the healthy way?

As the editor of Healthy Life, I’m regularly bombarded with questions about whether something is healthy or not-so-healthy. Last Monday morning, when one of my coworkers called me specifically to rant about the fact that she could not get a cup of vanilla iced coffee (her favorite flavor) without resorting to adding the sugary-sweet, calorie-laden syrups that are notoriously pumped into cold coffees in Philadelphia every morning, I knew something had to be done. “In the winter, I can get hot vanilla coffee and know there are basically zero calories in there except for my milk because it’s flavored from the grounds,” she said. “If I want vanilla iced coffee in the summertime, they add vanilla syrup. Why is there only one flavor of iced coffee in Philly, but so many flavors of hot coffee?”

To be honest, I wasn’t sure. The concept of flavored iced coffee is simple enough—brew flavored coffee grounds, chill the coffee, and pour it over ice — and I’ve had both vanilla and hazelnut iced-coffee brewed this way at coffee shops outside of the city numerous times.

But when our curious interns Leah and Justine called over 60 places, in both the city and the suburbs, they found only one spot that was brewing iced coffee the calorie-conscious way: Casa de Coffee in Pitman, New Jersey. In fact, they serve more than one option: Coconut cream, caramel, chocolate raspberry, and chocolate cherry. All iced, all filled with flavor, and all syrup-free. “We have more than 100 different syrups in the store, but the roasted iced-coffee flavors are more popular with customers,” says Dante McCleery, manager of Pitman’s Casa de Coffee. “Syrups make it so sweet, but when the flavors are roasted in, there’s a more natural flavor.”

I was shocked that only one spot out of all that we called was offering it this way. Why should Philly have to go flavorless in favor of bikinis and short shorts? So I called a few places back myself. Though some places we checked in with stated their brewing process was too complex, a few spots realized it was a healthy alternative they hadn’t thought about before — and decided to give it a go!

Right now, not only can you score a healthy java jolt at Casa de Coffee, but you can also find it at Ants Pants Cafe on South Street (they’ll be making iced Flyin’ Hawaiian, a blend of coconut and hazelnut starting today and running until the end of the month) and House of Coffee in Lahaska (they’ll be making a vanilla iced coffee and will offer at least one flavor of iced coffee for the next four weekends to see how it does!). So got on out there, drink up—and make sure to tell your local java spot that you’d like to see flavored-through-the-grounds iced coffees on their menu!

NOTE TO PHILLY COFFEE SHOPS: If you’re serving up healthy flavored iced joe already and we missed you on our list, please, please let us know! We’d love to know about it and hope that there’s way more than a handful of you out there.

Additional research by Leah Benner and Justine Garbarino