The Healthiest (and Unhealthiest) Starbucks Drinks You Can Order

Ah, Starbucks — there’s nothing like having a slice of coffee cake and a Grande Caramel Macchiato to brighten up your morning. Unfortunately, this coffee giant isn’t always good for your health. A simple black Americano won’t set back your day, but we’re not all inclined to drink something quite so boring (sorry, bland coffee lovers). A fun drink every once in awhile isn’t likely to hurt you in the long run, but watch out — your go-to Starbucks drink could be contributing to an expanding waistline. Here are the healthiest drinks the corporation has to offer, as well as the worst items you may be tempted to try.

Healthiest

1. Toasted Coconut Cold Brew

Starbucks employees working

This drink tastes great and isn’t even too bad for you. | STR/AFP/Getty Images

The taste of summer doesn’t have to be limited to coffee milkshakes or iced tea — you can have your own tropical paradise in a cup with the Toasted Coconut Cold Brew. This lightly-sweetened beverage packs a punch with the flavors of coconut and honey, and a splash of coconut milk is even added on top for creaminess. For a Grande, there’s only 50 calories and .5 grams of fat. You’ll be getting 11 grams of sugar, so don’t feel too saintly. But if you want something more exciting than your average iced coffee, this one’s not too shabby.

2. Teavana Shaken Iced Passion Tango Tea

ice tea with peaches

Starbucks’ flavored iced teas are typically a good choice. | iStock

OK, so we’re not all coffee drinkers here. And because Starbucks caters to caffeine-lovers with all different taste buds, you can indulge in a Shaken Iced Passion Tango Tea without feeling like you need to pay a visit to the gym afterward. A Grande will run you 45 calories and 0 grams of fat, and you’ll get refreshing hints of hibiscus, lemongrass, and apple for a fruity and delicious drink. Like with the Coconut Cold Brew,  it still packs 11 grams of sugar. But all in all, it’s a good summer selection for those office days when you want to feel like you’re at the beach. 

3. Cappuccino

cappuccino

You can lighten up your cappuccino even more with almond milk. | iStock.com

Obviously a straight shot of espresso is the healthier choice, but for those days when you want something just a bit more indulgent, go for the Cappuccino. This classic has everything you want in a coffee beverage — you get your rich espresso with a thick layer of creamy foam on top. And a Grande is only 120 calories with 4 grams of fat. Want to make it a little lighter? Go for almond milk to cut the calories down to 100 and the sugar down to 5 grams. 

4. Iced Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte

customers at a Starbucks

This iced coffee drink uses a sugar-free syrup to keep calories low. | STR/AFP/Getty Images

Lattes are delicious — who doesn’t love steamed milk mixed with espresso? Unfortunately, your waistline may not stay too slim if you drink one of these every day. So, behold! Starbucks’ Iced Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte has everything you want in a smooth and creamy coffee drink without the insane calories and fat. A Grande here will run you a mere 80 calories and no fat thanks to the sugar-free cinnamon dolce syrup. You’re still getting 10 grams of sugar, but it’s worth it for how delicious this one is.

5. Doubleshot on Ice

two coffee mugs

Need a pick-me-up? Go for the Doubleshot. | iStock/Getty Images

Sometimes, you don’t drink coffee for the taste — you drink it for results. And since your Venti Latte might end up costing you quite a bit in the calorie and sugar department, switch it up for a Doubleshot on Ice. This espresso-heavy drink gives you two full shots of the stuff with a little bit of milk added in to cut the bitterness. We recommend you go for the unsweetened variety for only 45 calories and 3 grams of sugar in a Grande (only 1 gram of sugar if you go for almond milk). If you do want it lightly sweetened, that’s still not too bad.

6. Coffee Light Frappuccino

Starbucks Caramelized Honey Frappuccino on Starbucks patio

This Frappuccino is the one you should go for. | Nikelle Murphy/Culture Cheat Sheet

Alright, so any Frappuccino is going to be less healthy than your average cup of joe, but we’re not here to ruin all the fun. If you know you’re going to get a blended coffee drink, then you can certainly get away with this one. The Coffee Light Frappuccino only has 110 calories and no fat per Grande, so you’ll get your milkshake-like beverage without the caloric overload. The downsides? It still has 23 grams of sugar and whipped cream isn’t included in the nutrition equation. Even so, this is one of the better options.

7. Skinny Mocha

Starbucks chai tea latte

The Skinny Mocha gives you that chocolaty flavor for fewer calories. | Starbucks

Mochas are a chocolate lover’s coffee dream come true, but they often come at a high calorie cost. Fear not, chocoholics — Starbucks’ Skinny Mocha has that classic flavor and foamy top you love without half a day’s worth of calories. This isn’t the healthiest option on the list, but 160 calories and 1.5 grams of fat for a Grande really isn’t that bad. It does have 15 grams of sugar, so we recommend choosing this as a lighter dessert option rather than a breakfast beverage. 

Unhealthiest

1. Hot chocolate

hot chocolate in two mugs

You’re better off going with the powdered mix than this caloric disaster. | iStock.com

There’s nothing more delightful than hot cocoa in the winter. Unfortunately, it comes with a serious cost at Starbucks. This Hot Chocolate starts with steamed milk and comes with two flavored syrups, sweetened whipped cream, and a chocolaty drizzle. Sound delicious? It sure is! And it also has 400 calories, 16 grams of fat, and 43 grams of sugar. Well, if all else fails and you order it anyway, you can focus on the 14 grams of protein to make you feel a little less guilty.

2. White Chocolate Mocha

Pumpkin spice latte and chile mocha

White chocolate is as unhealthy as it sounds — so imagine that flavor in a Mocha. | Starbucks

We had the Skinny Mocha on the healthy side of the list, so here’s what happens if you stray away and go for the full-blown White Chocolate Mocha. If you go for the whole shebang with 2% milk and whipped cream, be prepared for a 430-calorie drink with 18 grams of fat (12 of which are saturated) and 53 grams of sugar. Even switching in almond milk can’t save this disaster of a drink — you’ll still be taking in 43 grams of sugar and more than 300 calories. Go for the skinny option or skip the Starbucks line altogether.

3. Vanilla Latte

a latte with cinnamon

A Vanilla Latte doesn’t sound too bad — and that’s exactly the problem. | iStock.com

This isn’t the worst item on the list, but what’s so sinister about this drink is how innocent it sounds. After all, there’s only espresso, steamed milk, and a bit of vanilla syrup in it. So, how bad can a Vanilla Latte be, you ask? A Grande will set you back 250 calories and 6 grams of fat. Not the worst ever — but take a look at the sugar. You’ll be drinking down 35 grams before you know it. And, because it sounds healthier than a few other items on the Starbucks menu, you might be tempted to go for a Venti, in which case you’ll sip 44 grams of sugar. 

4. Cinnamon Roll Frappuccino

Starbucks employees

This Frappuccino is more like a milkshake than anything else. | Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

Let’s face it — a Frappuccino is basically just Starbucks’ fancy word for a coffee milkshake. So it should come as no surprise to see the Cinnamon Roll Frappuccino make this list. Curious as to just how bad this drink is for your health? A Grande clocks in at a hefty 510 calories, plus 16 grams of fat. There’s really no helping this monstrosity, even if you nix the whipped cream and whole milk. We highly advise choosing something else.

5. Chocolate Smoothie

chocolate milkshake

The word “smoothie” sounds healthy, which is misleading. | iStock.com

A smoothie sounds healthier than a milkshake — it’s kind of like how sorbet sounds healthier than ice cream, even though that’s not always the case. As far as this Chocolate Smoothie is concerned, don’t be fooled by the healthy-sounding name. The mocha sauce, banana, milk, and mix of protein and fiber powders all come together for 340 calories. Unfortunately, the drink also comes with 7 grams of fat and 34 grams of sugar. Don’t be persuaded by the 20 grams of protein — there are plenty of healthier ways to get the same amount into your diet.

6. Cinnamon Dolce Latte

cinnamon latte

Do yourself a favor and go for the skinny version. | iStock.com

The skinny version of this drink is one to go for, so we highly advise skipping the full-calorie, full-fat version. But if you do decide to order the Cinnamon Dolce Latte complete with cinnamon dolce topping and sweetened whipped cream, we hope your body is prepared for the incoming sugar shock. You’ll get a whopping 40 grams in this 330-calorie package. You can thank the dolce syrup for the majority of the problems here.

7. Red Velvet Cake Crème Frappuccino

Starbucks sign

Most Frappuccinos are really dessert, not an everyday drink. | Stephen Shaver/AFP/Getty Images

Who doesn’t love red velvet cake? Surprisingly, it might be to your waistline’s benefit to actually eat the cake rather than sip the beverage verstion. This Red Velvet Cake Crème Frappuccino is a full-blown milkshake, as it doesn’t even have coffee in it. The chocolate chips, mocha sauce, flavored syrups, and whipped cream may mimic the taste of your favorite dessert, but please do yourself a favor and stay far, far away. In a Grande, you’ll be getting 480 calories, 18 grams of fat, and 70 grams of sugar.

How to make your unhealthy Starbucks order less offensive

Starbucks

Take some of these tips to improve your Starbucks order. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Maybe you’ve been dying for a Frappuccino and a typical latte just won’t do. We get it — you have to splurge from time to time. But that doesn’t mean all is lost. We’re here to tell you can have your Starbucks beverage in all its glory and still not go overboard. Verywell offers some tips on how to lighten up even the worst drinks.

For one, skip the whip. Whipped cream can add about 60 calories and 6 grams of fat to your order, so you can instantly save right there. Also, order with nonfat milk to save on grams of unhealthy saturated fat. And try ordering your favorite hot beverage over ice. (Yes, a Starbucks Hot Chocolate over ice is as delicious and refreshing as it sounds). The ice has no calories, and it naturally takes up more space in your cup so you’ll have less of the sweet stuff. Finally, always ask if they have sugar-free syrups to replace the full-sugar ones in your drink. They probably do.

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