16 Best and Worst Frozen and Iced Coffee Drinks
It's official: Iced coffee season is here! Whether you're a cold brew lover or a frozen coffee fan, you don't have to rely on fancy coffee shops for your morning Joe. Now, you can get your caffeine fix just about anywhere, including fast food and quick-service restaurants.
But here's the thing—not all iced coffees have the components of a healthy energy-boosting drink. Some are laced with so much sugar and fat from processed syrups and whipped cream that it actually slows you down in the long run—and we mean your metabolism.
Iced and frozen drinks from fast-food restaurants like Starbucks, McDonald's, and Dunkin Donuts have nutritional values that vary wildly. Some are literally coffee plus ice and maybe a splash of milk while others are more akin to milkshakes with a splash of coffee. To help you sort out the best from the worst, we ranked 16 popular iced and frozen coffee drinks from fast-food restaurants. We looked at nutritional information—like calories, fat content, and sugar—and also ranked them based on ingredients, like artificial flavors, colors, and sweeteners.
Dunkin Donuts Iced Coffee
This iced black coffee is so basic…which makes it a winner. "Choosing coffee beverages without added sugar or milk keeps added calorie consumption significantly lower," says Georgia Rounder, registered dietitian nutritionist.
Starbucks Iced Latte Macchiato
This iced latte macchiato keeps things simple: espresso, skim milk, and ice. And at 90 calories for a grande, it's barely a blimp on your calorie radar. Rounder says regular milk is OK too. "It can be more beneficial in promoting satiety and satisfaction. The fat from regular milk helps keep blood sugar levels more stable," she says.
Panera Iced Caffe Latte
Who doesn't love the delicious creaminess of an iced latte? This Panera Bread version features freshly brewed espresso with foamed milk over ice. But the bigger portion of milk in this drink means higher calorie and fat content. Plus, it has more sodium than plain, iced coffee options.
Krispy Kreme Skinny Vanilla Latte
While this drink is lower in calories and has zero fat and sugar, don't be fooled by the word "skinny." "This usually means artificial sweeteners and chemically modified ingredients are being substituted for the real thing," says Rounder. In this case, that includes artificial sweeteners, such as erythritol and sucralose, along with artificial flavors. "While the total sugar content may look lower than other beverages, our bodies are not meant to digest and absorb these artificial ingredients, leading to potential digestive discomfort later in the day after drinking this beverage," says Rounder.
Sonic Iced Coffee with French Vanilla
Sonic offers more than just burgers and cherry limeades. For coffee lovers, there's an assortment of iced concoctions made with Green Mountain Coffee and spiked with flavors like French vanilla, chocolate, and praline pecan. The French vanilla version clocks in at 140 calories, six grams of fat (with over three of them from saturated fat), and 16 grams of sugar, which isn't terrible and lands it right in the middle of our list.
RELATED: The easy guide to cutting back on sugar is finally here.
And Now…The Worst
McDonald's Iced Caramel Latte
Aside from its Egg McMuffin, McDonald's McCafe is what brings more people through its drive-thru for breakfast. But its iced coffee creations can be a hit-or-miss nutritionally. This iced latte is sugary, thanks to the addition of sweetened condensed milk. Plus, it has one of the highest amounts of sodium of all of the drinks on our list.
Peet's Iced Vanilla Latte
For a seemingly straightforward iced vanilla latte, Peet's drink is packed in sugar. To reduce the amount of sugar, order a small with soy milk—you'll save 10 grams and avoid the bloat from the dairy.
Starbucks Coffee Frappuccino Blended Coffee
The original frozen coffee drink, the Starbucks coffee Frappuccino is still a favorite. While a Frap made with 2% milk has less fat than some of the other frozen beverages on the menu, there's still a ton of sugar in a 16-ounce serving (50 grams to be exact!) and less protein. Plus, with coffee listed as the last ingredient, it barely makes the cut as a coffee drink.
Au Bon Pain Iced Caramel Macchiato
On the surface, Au Bon Pain's iced caramel macchiato doesn't look too bad in terms of calories and protein. But a closer look at the nutritional profile and ingredients tells another story. Sure it has whole milk and espresso, but there are also preservatives like potassium sorbate and artificial flavors and syrups, including corn syrup, modified food starch, and caramel color. So if you're craving a cool coffee drink, there are better options for your cup of java.
Burger King Café Mocha Frappe
Which would you rather have for 400 calories at Burger King: a medium café mocha frappe or a grilled chicken sandwich? Hint, if you choose the sandwich, you save over 40 grams of added sugar.
Tim Hortons Iced Mocha Latte
Espresso, chocolate milk, and chocolate syrup—this iced mocha is definitely a decadent drink. Not only is it a 390 calorie bomb, but it also adds 56 grams of added sugar and seven grams of saturated fat to your day. If you want to treat yourself (and yes, it should be occasional), skip the whipped cream. "While it might not seem like much, whipped cream adds unnecessary calories, saturated fat, and sugar to an iced coffee drink," says Georgia Rounder, registered dietitian and nutritionist.
RELATED: The easy guide to cutting back on sugar is finally here.
Jamaba Juice La Vida Mocha
Other than protein, this coffee drink doesn't provide any true nutritional value. With nearly 80 grams of sugar, you'd be better off eating a candy bar. Order a fruit smoothie instead to dodge the artificial ingredients and get a few servings of fruit instead.
Krispy Kreme Frozen Mocha
It's rather concerning that there is not even a full gram of protein in this drink when it supposedly comprises milk—which naturally contains protein. Taking a look at the ingredients, you'll notice that the drink is packed in artificial sweeteners and chemically modified ingredients. In this case, that includes artificial sweeteners and additives, such as carrageenan and corn syrup. "Our bodies are not meant to digest and absorb these artificial ingredients, leading to potential digestive discomfort later in the day after drinking this beverage," says Rounder.
Starbucks Caffè Vanilla Frappuccino
When you order a Frappuccino, are you expecting a coffee drink or a coffee-flavored milkshake? This is hands-down one of the worst coffee drinks you can get at Starbucks.
Dunkin Donuts, Frozen Dunkaccino
Did you know this drink contains 3-4 days worth of added sugar? That's right, the American Heart Association says that women shouldn't exceed 25 grams of added sugar each day and that men shouldn't surpass 36 grams each day. Skip this frozen coffee drink at all costs—all of that sugar at once will likely make you feel sick and won't be beneficial to your health goals.
Dunkin Donuts Frozen Coffee, Caramel Swirl
"Any coffee drink with the word 'frozen' in the title will likely have significantly more calories and added sugar as they are essentially milkshakes," says Rounder. And this frozen drink is no exception. With 141 grams of sugar in a medium, this drink contains 4-5 times the recommended daily intake of sugar, if following AHA recommendations. Plus, it's the only drink in our roundup that has trans fat, which is bad for heart health. "These types of coffee drinks should really be thought of more as 'treats' rather than coffee drinks regularly consumed in one's diet," says Rounder.