Cafes ditch sugar for health-conscious customers

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PETALING JAYA — Some cafes in Malaysia have started serving unsweetened freshly brewed beverages, with sugar on the side, as Malaysians become more health-conscious.

Cafe owners said the majority of their customers consumed their beverages like coffee without sugar.

Kent Lee, co-founder of Kofix Cafe in Pandan Indah, said his establishment adopted a no-sugar policy in their beverage preparations three years ago.

He said Kofix also has its servers recommend customers to have their beverages in “default” form.

“We won’t stop our customers from asking for a sweetener, but we want to maintain the bitter taste of our coffee and chocolate because that is how they are meant to be consumed,” Lee said.

He said four out of 10 Kofix customers ask for sugar.

About 3.6 million or 17.5 per cent of Malaysians have reportedly been diagnosed with Type II diabetes.

On Monday, Malay Mail reported that most popular breakfast cereal brands contain more sugar than the recommended daily portion.

In Singapore, some food courts have also started serving beverages without sugar in support of the government’s healthier drinks policy.

Artisan Coffee Petaling Jaya barista Praevin Ravinder said the outlet practises a self-service policy on sweeteners.

“Most of our customers are satisfied with our drinks without sugar and an average of two out of 10 customers add sugar to their coffee,” he said, adding the establishment only made brown sugar or brown sugar syrup available.

“Coffee is meant to be enjoyed bitter and we want to preserve that taste. We also advise them to refrain from adding sugar to their chocolate drinks because they are already sweet.”

Old Town White Coffee Axis Fiesta Ampang assistant manager Zarina Ismail said the franchise only provides white sugar sachets.

“Each sachet is about 5gm and our Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) allows two with each order. This applies to all Old Town outlets, and our hot drinks are prepared without sugar,” she said.

Consumer groups welcomed the serving of sugar-free drinks.

“We want to start a crusade against sugar, to educate people of its negative effects when over-consumed. Some people consume sugar in everything they eat,” said Malaysian Muslim Consumers Association (PPIM) chief activist Datuk Nadzim Johan.

Malaysia Consumers Movement (MCM) president Darshan Singh Dhillon welcomed the idea of giving consumers a choice.

“With the option you can decide, but ultimately it has to be supported with education on the matter,” he said.

Dietitian Goo Chui Hoong said sugar contains no nutrients and could be completely omitted from one’s diet.

“There is now no option to reduce sugar content at functions, events and even schools. If this (no sugar) practice can be implemented across the board, it would be good,” she said.