The Spooky Side of Coffee Shops: How Your Morning Boost Is Actually Bringing You Down

coffee health wellness Nov 09, 2022

Welcome to the WHOLISTIC LIVING PODCAST: Episode 29
Aligning Body, Mind, and Soul with Elena Bensonoff



Hi there and welcome to the Wholistic Living podcast. I’m Elena Bensonoff and I’m excited to share with you another episode in the Be the Hero of your Health series. I’m here to help you look at the daily choices you make and empower you with information to set you on the path to forever wellness and lasting energy.

Today we will be taking a close look at the spooky side of coffee shops. You’ll learn why their coffees are problematic - including a look at the negative effects of sugar, caffeine, mycotoxins, and dairy on your body. I’ll also share a solution that will help support your journey to body, mind, and soul balance.



Overview of the Problem

The once green leaves are changing to oranges and red. The air is crisp and cool. Bundled in your favorite cozy sweater, you join the herd and head to your favorite coffee shop for a classic Pumpkin Spice Latte.

What started as a cozy autumn tradition might end up scarier than you think. Let’s take a closer look at the spooky ingredients lurking in the famous Pumpkin Spice Latte, affectionately known as the PSL.

A grande PSL (16 oz) contains 390 calories. “Pumpkin Spice Sauce” is the signature ingredient setting it apart from a regular latte. The sauce is loaded with sugar - 52g… the equivalent of dumping ¼ cup sugar in your coffee.

Caffeine and sugar are one of those sneaky ingredient combinations that are formulated to activate the pleasure centers of your brain to get you addicted and craving more!

And it's not just this seasonal drink that will sneak up on you. Here are a few other classic drinks that are heavy on sugar:

  • Grande White Chocolate Mocha has 430 calories, 53g sugar, and 18g fat
  • Grande Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino has 470 calories, 22g fat, and 60g sugar
  • Grande Caramel Brulee Latte (seasonal holiday drink) packs 61g sugar and is loaded with corn syrup
  • All frappuccino drinks are made with whole milk unless you ask for something different!

Adding any additional flavors, toppings, or extra espresso to these basic recipes increases the sugar, fat, and caffeine content even more! (1) You may think you are safe if you switch to decaf and order coconut milk instead of dairy - but I’m about to share why that is problematic too.


  • Sugar is addictive and hard on your body. You end up crashing and needing more. Check out the episode linked in the show notes for more information about the dangers of too much sugar.


  • Caffeine increases gastric acid production putting you at risk for chronic heartburn.
  • Caffeine stresses the adrenal glands and can cause you to feel more burnt out in the long run.
  • Caffeine is addictive. It is one of the most widely consumed stimulants in the world, with 90% of American adults consuming caffeine-infused beverages almost daily.
  • A 2018 study explored how the boost you feel from your morning cup of coffee may actually just be the reversal of caffeine withdrawals! (2) The energizing effects you feel are actually just the result of adenosine receptors in the brain being blocked by caffeine - preventing you from feeling fatigue. It literally blocks you from listening to your body’s cues.
  • Research has found that intoxication from too much caffeine causes:
    • Anxiety
    • Insomnia
    • Muscle spasms
    • Restlessness
    • Digestive issues
    • Heart Problems - increased heart rate and arrhythmias
  • Consuming caffeine to boost your energy masks important messages from your body that could warn you that you need more rest or better nutrition. Caffeine is a bandaid on a big problem that could result in chronic adrenal fatigue or worse if ignored.
  • Caffeine is a major sleep disruptor because of its 4-6 hour half-life. This means that up to six hours after drinking a caffeinated beverage, half of the caffeine is still present in your system — keeping you alert. And, if it's bedtime, preventing you from falling asleep!


  • Mycotoxin-producing mold grows on green coffee beans before they are roasted.
  • Research has determined that only 70 to 80% of mycotoxin found on green coffee beans is destroyed during the roasting process.
  • Mycotoxins have been linked to allergic reactions, immune deficiency, liver disease, cardiomyopathy, hepatitis, brain damage, and cancer. Chronic and long term mycotoxin exposure is detrimental and can even lead to death. (3,4,5 and 6)
  • Switching to decaf actually increases your exposure to mycotoxins! Caffeine helps slow the growth of mold, so when it is removed the measured toxin levels are significantly higher. (7)


  • Dairy is mucogenic (meaning it produces mucus which makes you more susceptible to contagions), consider the following:
    • Studies have shown dairy protein facilitates the development of cancer (8)
    • Risk of antibiotic residue, pesticide contamination, and harmful microorganisms
    • Even organic milk usually contains high levels of hormones (9)
    • About 68 percent of us can’t absorb lactose, the sugar found in dairy products (10)
    • You may think switching to a non-dairy milk at your favorite coffee shop is the answer, but a true coconut milk should just have two ingredients: coconut milk and water. Theirs has 15 ingredients including sugar and carrageenan, which is an emulsifying agent known to cause digestive problems

This information can be a little discouraging. Especially if your favorite or your local coffee shop is a favorite part of your day. This information is a reminder of how important it is to check ingredients of the things that go into your body. Little choices add up to making a big impact over time.

Are you ready to make changes to your daily routine that will support your health?




Ideally, you should skip some of the big chain coffee shops altogether and switch to home-brewed herbal tea with non-dairy milk and a natural sweetener like chicory root extract. If you’re one of those people who look forward to the PSL all year, try an autumn-inspired brew to start a new cozy tradition. I know baby steps are key when you are breaking old patterns, so if you do find yourself at a big chain coffee shop - let’s say you’re traveling and need wifi, I recommend ordering an herbal tea like their Mint Majesty.

Here Are 5 Benefits To Saying Goodbye to Big Chain Coffee Shops:

  1. Boost your immune system by ditching sugar and dairy
  2. Reduce inflammation and feel the difference in your body
  3. Break caffeine addiction and have natural sustained energy
  4. Reduce your exposure to chemicals and additives by eliminating unnecessary ingredients
  5. Improve your gut health because of all of the above!

I know it's hard to feel like we have to give up all our favorite things in the pursuit of a healthier lifestyle. My desire is that you feel excited and empowered to make changes that your body will love. I want to help you find better alternatives and lasting health for the rest of your life.

I am offering a FREE Masterclass where I will help you get inspired to create balance for your body, mind, and soul.

Improve the way your body feels FOREVER with an easy, no-equipment self-test. Be your own health hero and learn how to determine your food intolerances in under 1 minute. Gain powerful relief from stressful thoughts and emotions. Learn how to activate your heart to neutralize negative thoughts. Master a simple skill to resolve energy imbalances to attain soul-level alignment. And so much more. I will be with you every step of the way. Click the link in the show notes to enroll!

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Thank you so much for listening.







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