It's time to cozy up for fall, and for many of us, that means enjoying the much-anticipated autumn flavors like pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, apple, and vanilla. This season may be particularly exciting for coffee lovers thanks to drinks like the Pumpkin Spice Latte, also known as the PSL.
Starbucks created the PSL in 2003, selling over 200 million of the beverage in its first decade on the menu, but the chain has also branched out into other delicious types of seasonal beverages and has a fall menu featuring limited-time drinks as well as old favorites.
To help you get in the fall spirit, as well as feel more prepared when you walk into a busy Starbucks cafe, we've put together a list of the best fall Starbucks drinks to try, and the ones you can skip.
Our list is based on a few things. First, we took nutrition into consideration, especially because many Starbucks drinks are often loaded with added sugars. However, we understand that many delicious Starbucks drinks are going to be special treats anyway, so it's about finding your favorites and enjoying them on occasion. We also looked at how easy a drink is to alter for your individual needs, for example, cutting the amount of syrup in half.
Finally, it's important to note that some of these drinks listed are only seasonal and officially a part of their "fall menu," whereas the others are there year-round but have qualities that can help get us all in the fall spirit.
Read on, and for more Starbucks tips check out 28 Healthy Starbucks Items Dietitians Love.
Pumpkin Spice Latte
We couldn't put together a fall Starbucks drinks list without including the classic Pumpkin Spice Latte. However, we recommend altering this original recipe to make it a bit healthier, which is easy to do.
Unfortunately, Starbucks doesn't list the nutrition information for individual ingredients, nor does it let you calculate nutrition info for the alterations you make; however, we know that a 16-ounce grande size comes with four pumps of pumpkin sauce, which is most likely the leading contributor to the whopping 50 grams of sugar.
Thankfully the pumpkin sauce is sweet and full of flavor, so ordering just one or two pumps instead of the four can cut your sugar calories significantly, while still maintaining the flavor. If you're more of an iced coffee drink, worry not—you can enjoy the PSL over ice as well.
Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew – Tall
The Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew does have a significant amount of calories and sugar, but if you order it in the "tall" size, you'll save on both of these things while still giving you plenty of caffeine.
Because cold brew has more caffeine than espresso or drip coffee, you can order a 12-ounce cold brew and get 145 milligrams of caffeine, almost as much as the caffeine you'd get from a 16-ounce pumpkin spice latte (150 milligrams). This helps keep your calories at 140 and your sugar at 17 grams.
Apple Crisp Oat Milk Macchiato
This Starbucks seasonal beverage is back for the second year in a row, but this time with a yummy twist—it's made with oat milk and Starbucks Blonde Espresso. The 29 grams of sugar is not ideal, but you can easily cut this in half by asking for two pumps of syrup instead of four. This is also a great drink for those who are looking for something non-dairy because it's made with oat milk. You can also order this drink iced if the fall weather hasn't hit where you live yet.
Iced Shaken Espresso with a splash of pumpkin
The Starbucks Iced Shaken Espresso drink is made with espresso and classic sweetener that's shaken over ice and topped with a dash of milk. This is one of the lower-calorie options when it comes to their iced drinks, and you can personalize it any way. For an extra fun fall beverage, replace the classic sweetener with just one or two pumps of pumpkin, and top with a dash of pumpkin spice topping. It also comes with more caffeine than other iced drinks at Starbucks, with 225 milligrams per 16 ounces.
Cappuccino with pumpkin spice topping
A standard Starbucks cappuccino made with 2% milk only has 140 calories and 12 grams of sugar, which is relatively low compared to other yummy Starbucks drinks. The warmth of this drink can help you cozy up during the colder autumn months, and you can make it even more fall-friendly by adding a dash of cinnamon or pumpkin spice topping.
The grande Starbucks Chai Tea Latte is 42 grams of sugar, but getting fewer pumps of chai might mean a diluted taste since there's no espresso to support it. For a healthier alternative, try the plain chai tea and add a pump of sweetener and a dash of steamed milk, or drink it black for a cozy, flavor-packed fall treat.
Fall Starbucks Drinks to Skip
These fall Starbucks drinks are higher in sugar, fat, and calories than the rest, and simply aren't worth the splurge in our opinion. They're also a bit harder to adjust to fit your preferences.
Skip: Caramel Apple Spice
We know that Caramel Apple Spice sounds like the perfect fall treat, but you may want to try one of the drinks we recommended above instead. In just one grande size, you're getting 70 grams of added sugar, which is over twice as much as the sugar in a grande Apple Crisp Macchiato.
Skip: Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino
Unless you're truly craving a blended beverage, we recommend skipping the Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino and opting for the Iced PSL instead. Not only are you getting more sugar with the frappuccino, but you're getting 100 milligrams of caffeine compared to the 150 milligrams you'd get in the Pumpkin Spice Latte.
Skip: Apple Crisp Oat Milk Frappuccino
For the same reasons we suggest skipping the PSF (Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino), we also recommend passing on the Apple Crisp Oat Milk Frappuccino and going for the iced macchiato version instead. If you choose the frappuccino over the iced Apple Crisp Oat Milk Macchiato, you'll run into the same issue: more sugar (60 grams vs. 34 grams) and less caffeine (100 milligrams vs. 170 milligrams). If you're craving a sweet fall treat, you may want to choose one of the many other Starbucks fall drink options instead.
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