Why can’t you get light cream in the Bay Area?

Coffee in California, or at least in the Bay Area, doesn’t taste right. One reason, of course, is because when I’m on the East Coast, I frequent delicious Dunkin’ Donuts coffee shops. But even when I make Dunkin’ Donuts coffee at home (we order the beans online), it doesn’t taste as good as it should.

Why? Because when you’re on the East Coast, if you ask for cream in your coffee, you really get cream in your coffee. Not half-and-half. Light cream, aka coffee cream. Here in the Bay Area, the best you can put into your coffee is half-and-half.

Half-and-half is about 10-18% fat.
Light cream is from 18-30% fat.

Coffee tastes very different with light cream than it does with half-and-half, just like it tastes different with half-and-half than it does with milk.

For example, Oakhurst Dairy, in Portland, Maine, offers both half-and-half and light cream for putting into coffee.

You might think that light cream is bad for you, with too much fat. It’s not, because you don’t have to pour much into your coffee to make it yummy. Compare Oakhurst’s light cream against its half-and-half:

Light cream (serving size 15mL, or one tablespoon):

Calories: 30
Calories from fat: 25
Total fat: 2.5 grams

Half-and-half (serving size 30mL, or two tablespoons):

Calories: 40
Calories from fat: 30
Total fat: 3.0 grams

So, while light cream is indeed richer than half-and-half, it has less fat and fewer calories per serving, because you use less. Plus, it tastes better!

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick
8 replies
  1. Gordon Peery
    Gordon Peery says:

    Hey Alan,

    A friend of mine who ran a cafe-deli in Hancock (NH) was advised to serve cream instead of .5 + .5 because people (supposedly) use less of it, thus saving the business money. Don’t know if that’s true, but it’s interesting.

    Some time ago I published a blog which was anchored in coffee – you might be interested in part because of the musical connection.

    I hope this finds you well, and properly caffeinated.

  2. Paul N. Leroux
    Paul N. Leroux says:

    I’ve never tried light cream in my coffee, but your argument makes sense: I always use 10% half-and-half, but decided, in an effort to keep myself under 100 kilos, to try 5% instead. I ended up pouring twice as much cream into my coffee.

  3. swag
    swag says:

    Most coffee is made so poorly, you have to doctor it up. You might want to try better coffee supplies first.

    Dunkin’ Donuts, for example, allows their roasts to oxidize for weeks after roasting — like most mass market places.

  4. Paul N. Leroux
    Paul N. Leroux says:

    I used to drink coffee sans cream — the stronger the better. But I also used to bicycle for hours in the middle of Montreal winters and never crank up the heat in my home beyond 64F. Some us just get wimpier as we get older, I guess. 🙂

    Staying away from tap water when making coffee — have gotta try that.

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