15 Best & Worst Drinks to Order at Starbucks, Say Dietitians
It seems like every year there is a new trending drink at Starbucks. The pumpkin spice latte, medicine ball, and pink drink are some that come to mind over recent years. While there are plenty of inventive drinks, and your combinations are endless when creating your own beverage, not all Starbucks drinks are created equal when it comes to your health. Yes, there are plenty of healthy Starbucks drinks—even some low-sugar, low-calorie Starbucks drinks—but for every one of these, there are several more coffee and tea drinks packed with sugar and enough calories for an entire meal.
If you have health on your mind on your next Starbucks trip, we put together some tips to consider when ordering off the Starbucks drink menu as well as dietitian-approved options for what to order.
Tips to order healthy Starbucks drinks:
- The size of your drink can make a huge difference in calories and sugar. If you are craving a more indulgent drink, stick with a tall size to keep calories, sugar, and fat in check.
- Another way to check calories, fat and saturated fat grams is to choose skim milk. Two percent is the standard milk for most drinks, and dropping to fat-free can cut calories quite a bit, depending on the size.
- Limit added sugar by reducing the number of syrup pumps or choose sugar-free syrups when available. You could also consider skipping syrups all together and instead opting for a stevia sweetener that is sugar-free and made with fewer chemicals and diet syrups.
The best & worst healthy Starbucks drinks from every section of the Starbucks drinks menu.
Read on to learn the 15 best and worst drinks to order at Starbucks, and for more, don't miss The Healthiest Starbucks Breakfast Menu Orders.
Cold Drinks & Frappuccinos
Best: Cold Brew Coffee with Milk
This drink packs a caffeine punch, and a dash of 2% milk makes for a creamier texture. This drink has no added sugar and provides a little protein, making it a great option. If you want to reduce calories further, go with skim milk, and try stevia for a healthier zero-calorie sweetener.
Best: Iced Caffe Latte
Although the Iced Caffe Latte has 15 grams of sugar, this is just the sugar that naturally occurs in milk. There is no added sugar in this drink, making it one of the "best" options on our list. Additionally, you'll find 12 grams of protein, making a more filling option that could suffice for a decent snack. Swap the 2% milk for skim to cut some calories, fat, saturated fat, carb, and sugar.
Worst: Chocolate Java Mint Frappuccino® Blended Beverage
This drink packs a whopping 87 grams of sugar, most of which is added sugar. Between the Frappuccino syrup, flavored white chocolate mint sauce, mocha sauce, and chocolate cookie mint sprinkles, there is no shortage of sugar in this drink. Although it does provide 2 grams of fiber, its only positive attribute, you are better off skipping this option.
Worst: Iced White Chocolate Mocha
Another calorie and sugar-ladened drink, this mocha provides a meal's worth of calories. One positive attribute of this drink is its 16 grams of satiating protein, but you're better off getting it without all the added sugar. Make this drink healthier by choosing skim milk, asking for fewer pumps of flavor, and skipping the whipped cream.
Worst: Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino®
If your drink has "cookie" in its name, you may want to look elsewhere for a healthier drink. Another drink that does provide some fiber, the Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino is lower in protein than other options and packs way more sugar than most should have in an entire day. Not to mention, this drink contributes a significant amount of saturated fat, a nutrient the American Heart Association recommends you limit.
Worst: Frozen Pineapple Passionfruit Lemonade Starbucks Refresher®
Don't let the low-calorie count on the Frozen Pineapple Passionfruit Lemonade Starbucks Refresher fool you. While only 220 calories, this cold beverage still packs 45 grams of sugar. With no fat or protein, this sugar bomb is sure to spike your blood sugar and leave you in an energy crash a few hours later. If you are craving a Refresher®, try the Mango Dragonfruit variety that comes in at 28 grams of sugar. If you choose a smaller drink size, you can cut sugar content even more.
Hot Coffee Drinks & Espresso Beverages
Best: Caffè Misto
Another drink with no added sugar and a boost of protein from 2% milk, this hot coffee beverage provides a lot of drink for few calories. The caffè misto is made with equal parts brewed coffee and 2% milk, making for a less caffeinated coffee drink than many others on this list. At just under 200 milligrams of caffeine per venti, this drink still packs an energizing punch without the sugar and calories of many other options.
Best: Espresso Con Panna
If you are looking for a punch of caffeine in a small drink, you will find it in the espresso con panna. Simply made with brewed espresso and whipped cream, this option provides only 40 calories with zero grams of sugar. At over 225 milligrams of caffeine, you'll feel energized without the sugar crash a few hours later.
You can't go wrong with a simple cappuccino. Made with a combination of espresso and milk, this drink is known for its thick layer of foam on top. Although higher in calories than other "best" options on this list, you can drop that count by swapping 2% milk for skim. Also, consider adding a dash of cinnamon on top for a zero-calorie way to add flavor.
Worst: White Chocolate Mocha
A common theme you'll see amongst the worst drinks on this list, like the White Chocolate Mocha, is the high sugar content. When overconsumed, sugar could increase your risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease (CVD), certain cancers, and other chronic diseases. Reducing the amount of flavoring in your coffee drink is one of the best ways to cut sugar in your drink. Some flavors, like vanilla, also come in sugar-free versions that you may consider.
Worst: Caffè Mocha
Another high fat, sugary drink, this mocha leaves much to be desired when it comes to health. While 5 grams of fiber and 18 grams of protein make this Caffè Mocha better than many other "worst" options on our list, you can't overlook the 45 grams of sugar. This is more than what's in a single can of soda! Reduce the pumps of mocha and skip the whipped cream topping to turn this option into a healthier one.
Best: Chai Tea
For a flavor-packed drink that provides zero calories, this chai tea is a great option. Made with black tea along with a variety of spices, this tea is known for its distinctive flavor. Add a splash of milk if you prefer a little creaminess, but avoid the latte version of this drink that is loaded with added sugar.
Best: Iced Passion Tango® Tea
For a cold tea drink, the Iced Passion Tango Tea has flavors of apple, lemongrass, and hibiscus. Not only it is a beautiful color, but you'll get plenty of flavor for no calories. This is also one of the caffeine-free, healthy Starbucks drink offerings, making it perfect for a fun drink any time of day, or for those who generally limit their caffeine consumption.
Worst: Caramel Apple Spice
While the Caramel Apple Spice may not have as many calories as other "worst" selections on this list, it has the most sugar. At just under 90 grams of sugar, this steamed apple juice drink is topped with whipped cream and caramel sauce, and it provides almost no protein. The combination of high added sugar content and little protein and fat could leave you with a sugar high and crash soon after.
Worst: Iced Chai Tea Latte
Although the plain chai tea made our list of the best healthy Starbucks drinks, the hot and cold latte versions of this drink are loaded with sugar. Asking for fewer pumps of chai flavoring will cut sugar significantly, and you can use skim milk to bring down the fat and saturated fat content.