Starbucks baristas and imbibers are getting into a healthy debate about the unhealthy drinks served up by the monster coffee chain.

There are 185 comments and counting on a post at the Starbucks Gossip blog that asks, “When will Starbucks get serious about diabetes and obesity?”

It’s a reasonable question, since some of the coffee chain’s sweetest drinks pack as many calories as fast food. As Marian Burros recently reported in The New York Times, a 20-ounce “venti” Caffe Mocha with whipped cream contains 490 calories, which is on a par with a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with cheese. Moreover, the Java Chip Frappuccino with whipped cream bulges at 650 calories.

The heated debate ranges from whether customers ultimately bear the responsibility for their food choices to whether Splenda is an adequate substitute for sugar. Interestingly, some employees, like the commenter who goes by the name of “Chi-towns best/angriest barista,” are working subversively to lighten up their customers’ drinks without their knowledge:

i think starbucks drinks are too unhelathy [sic], and i work there. sometimes i would use the sugar-free syrpus instead of regular, or add a little non-fat milk to a regular drink, and the frapp-lite base? looks a heck of a lot like the normal stuff when you stick whipped cream on it. maybe this is bad (i’m pretty sure it is bad) but i’ll do it anyway because i hate contributing to the growing unhealth of this country. we had this “go venti” slogan for a while, that i absolutely hated and refused to participate in. we were supposed to push venti-sized drinks on people, but i think that’s awful, and as a customer i hate when it’s done to me, so i never did it. you want a grande latte? sure. tall latte? even better. yeah, i’ll sell you a venti if you order it, but i won’t tell you to.
i consider it my tiny little part to make a difference.

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