Seasonal Coffeehouse Treats, A Nutritional Comparison

Pumpkin Spice Latte

The Holidays must be upon us, because the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte is back! All the hype got me wondering (as I’m prone to do), about the number of calories in a Pumpkin Spice Latte — and in all the other chains’ seasonal concoctions, too.  So, here’s the Eating Rules guide to seasonal coffeehouse treats. I’m including Starbucks, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, and Peet’s Coffee.  (Want to know about another chain? Let me know in the comments and I’ll do a followup.)

All of the drinks at these shops are made to order, so they can be customized to a certain degree.  A few easy choices can mean the difference between a reasonable, 200 calorie treat and a 500+ calorie sugar and fat overload. Once you pass those first 250 or so calories, there’s a point of diminishing returns — those extra 250 just aren’t worth as much.  My advice on the three least painful ways to curb those calories?

  • Get a smaller size.
  • Choose fat-free milk (or soy milk).
  • Skip the whipped cream.

For comparison’s sake I’m going to assume you’re ignoring my first suggestion, and will show nutrition information for a 16 ounce (“medium” or “grande”) serving from each company. I gave green check marks to those drinks under 300 calories and 40 grams of sugar (had to meet both criteria), and red X marks to anything over 400 calories.

Starbucks

Starbucks definitely leads the genre with their uber-popular pumpkin spice latte, but they have a handful of other seasonal offerings, too.  The Gingerbread Latte is the best option, while the Eggnog Latte is hands-down the worst.  The Pumpkin Spice Latte lands in the middle.

Pumpkin Spice Latte
Fat-Free Milk, No Whipped Cream

260 calories, no fat, 210mg sodium, 48g sugars, 14g protein

Pumpkin Spice Latte X
Whole Milk and Whipped Cream

410 calories, 10g sat fat, 17g total fat, 210mg sodium, 48g sugars

Toffee Mocha
Fat-Free Milk, No Whipped Cream

310 calories, 1g fat, 260mg sodium, 55g sugars

Toffee Mocha
Whole Milk, No Whipped Cream

380 calories, 6g sat fat, 11g total fat,  250mg sodium, 53g sugars

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate X
Fat-Free Milk, No Whipped Cream

400 calories, 6g sat fat, 11g total fat, 300mg sodium, 63g sugars

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate X
Whole Milk and Whipped Cream

480 cal, 12g sat fat, 20g total fat, 290mg sodium, 62g sugars

Gingerbread Latte
Fat-Free Milk, No Whipped Cream

200 calories, no fat, 140mg sodium, 36g sugars, 11g protein

Gingerbread Latte
Whole Milk and Whipped Cream

350 calories, 10g sat fat, 17g total fat, 140mg sodium, 36g sugars

Eggnog Latte X
Fat-Free Milk, No Whipped Cream

450 calories, 11g sat fat, 18g total fat, 230mg sodium, 49g sugars

Eggnog Latte X X
Whole Milk and Whipped Cream

550 calories, 17.5g sat fat, 29g total fat, 230mg sodium, 47g sugars

Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino® Light Blended Beverage
No Whipped Cream

150 calories, 0.5g total fat, 240mg sodium, 22g sugars
This coled drink gets an honorable mention (though I’m not sure if they also use artificial sweeteners, which you may want to avoid.)

Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino® Blended Beverage X
Whole Milk and Whipped Cream

430 calories, 9g sat fat, 14g total fat, 270mg sodium, 69g sugars
Think of this as a milkshake, with all the fat, sugar, and calories that go with it.

Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

Coffee Bean kindly emailed me the nutritional information for their seasonal drinks (it’s not on their website), using non-fat milk and no whipped cream.

You can get each one with a  “No Sugar Added Powder” (instead of the regular flavor powder). Take note, though:  The No Sugar Added powder drinks still have a lot of added sugar!

Pumpkin Latte
350 cal, 3.5g fat, 56g sugars

Pumpkin Latte, No Sugar Added
270 cal, no fat, 40g sugars

Peppermint Vanilla Latte
370 cal, 4g fat, 60g sugars

Peppermint Vanilla Latte, No Sugar Added
300 calories, 0.5g fat, 44g sugars

Peppermint Mocha Latte
370 cal, 3g fat, 59g sugars

Peppermint Mocha Latte, No Sugar Added
300 cal, 0.5g fat, 44g sugars

Gingerbread Cookie Latte
370 calories, 3.5g fat, 59g sugars

Gingerbread Cookie Latte, No Sugar Added
290 calories, no fat, 43g sugars

Red Velvet Hot Chocolate X
460 calories, 13g fat, 55g sugars

Tea Latte with Vanilla Powder
280 calories, 7g fat, 44g sugars

Tea Latte with Vanilla Powder, No Sugar Added
120 calories, no fat, 11g sugars

Holiday Flavor Ice Blended Drinks X
Gingerbread Cookie, Red Velvet, Pumpkin, Peppermint Vanilla, and Peppermint Mocha
460-480 calories, 8-17g fat, 55-81g sugars

Holiday Flavor Ice Blended Drinks, No Sugar Added
Gingerbread Cookie, Pumpkin, Peppermint Vanilla, and Peppermint Mocha
220-240 calories, 0-0.5g fat, 31-35g sugars

Pumpkin Spice Coffee & Holiday Blend Coffee
These are nutritionally about the same as any other brewed coffee — so it’s about 5 calories per serving (before adding milk or sugar, of course).  A great way to get the holiday flavor without the holiday calories!

Peet’s Coffee

Peet’s kindly emailed me the nutritional information for their seasonal drinks (it’s not on their website), using non-fat milk and no whipped cream.

Pumpkin Spice Caffe Latte
Fat-Free Milk
222 calories, no fat, 202mg sodium, 40g sugars

Pumpkin Spice Caffe Latte
Whole Milk
327 calories, 8g sat fat, 12g total fat, 188mg sodium, 43g sugars

Peppermint Caffe Mocha
Fat-Free Milk
286 calories, 1g fat, 203mg sodium, 52g sugars

Peppermint Caffe Mocha
Whole Milk
384 calories, 7g sat fat, 12g total fat, 196mg sodium, 51g sugars

Gingerbread Caffe Latte
Fat-Free Milk
234 calories, no fat, 195mg sodium, 44g sugars

Gingerbread Caffe Latte
Whole Milk
339 calories, 8g sat fat, 12g total fat, 188mg sodium, 43g sugars

Eggnog Latte X X
650 calories, 20g sat fat, 29g total fat, 553mg sodium, 75g sugars

Menu Mondays are my recommendations for the most healthful options at chain restaurants. Although it may be tough to find “perfect” options when eating out, it’s important to choose “better” whenever possible, and I hope these guides will help make that easier for you.

indicates the “best-of-the-best,” and X indicates the “worst-of-the-worst,” more or less.  In this round, I gave green check marks to those drinks under 300 calories and 40 grams of sugar (had to meet both criteria), and red X marks to anything over 400 calories.

Photo by Zach Hale.

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28 Responses to Seasonal Coffeehouse Treats, A Nutritional Comparison

  1. Lindsey November 15, 2010 at 1:39 pm #

    But the eggnog latte is sooo good!! :/

    • Andrew November 15, 2010 at 1:42 pm #

      I know… very sadmaking! My jaw dropped when I saw the calories in Peet’s Eggnog Latte… 650 calories? Egads! That’s an entire meal!

      I bet you could make your own at home and come out way ahead on price, calories, and perhaps even taste. :)

  2. @jaynerly November 15, 2010 at 2:07 pm #

    I’ve always been sad that I only drink black coffee & miss out on all the lovely sounding drinks! Now I think I’m glad!

  3. connie November 15, 2010 at 2:07 pm #

    thanks, andrew!!! another thing you can do is ask them to put less simple syrup. to sweeten the drinks, they put 4 pumps of syrup into each grande. if you ask for just 2 pumps, it’s still sufficiently sweet (actually, i think it is a little better).

  4. connie November 15, 2010 at 2:09 pm #

    sorry for being unclear — i am discussing starbucks drinks, in reference to the “pumps” above.

  5. Kim November 15, 2010 at 2:40 pm #

    Great blog by the way – I made a similar pledge last year to make all our own bread and yogurt, as well as give up cereal as a key strategy to reducing our use of processed foods. I haven’t looked back since. I am a big fan of this flavor in my coffee especially this time of year, but I just make my own with pumpkin pie-type spices! Better for me, no refined sugars, and more convenient given I can have cup in my kitchen when I’m still in my pajamas. I’ve got the recipe here if you’re interested: http://thekitchencottage.weebly.com/1/post/2010/11/a-holiday-weakness-for-pumpkin-lattes.html

  6. Andrew November 15, 2010 at 3:19 pm #

    @jaynerly – Indeed! Though I have to admit that while researching this post, some of these started sounding awfully good. I think I’ll have to take Kim’s advice and make my own… Then again, I don’t drink much coffee, so maybe I’ll make a pot for Matty and steal a sip or two. :) This also goes to show you how easily those liquid calories can add up! An extra 300+ calorie latte once (or twice, or three times) a week really makes a difference.

    @Connie – Good advice – thanks! (Any syrups that are pumped into my beverage generally turn me off these days…but if you’re gonna have it, two is certainly better than four!)

    @Kim – Thanks for the kind words, and for sharing your recipe. I saw a few online that also use a couple of tablespoons of unsweetened pumpkin puree… Might be a nice addition.

  7. Kim November 15, 2010 at 5:56 pm #

    @Andrew: Pumpkin puree – nice bonus – some natural sweetness, vitamins, and fiber – not many coffee drinks can boast that!

    • Andrew November 18, 2010 at 3:05 pm #

      Totally. These small tweaks add up to make a real difference! It’s not about depriving yourself, just about being smart about it! :)

  8. Mrs. Q November 15, 2010 at 7:53 pm #

    The fat doesn’t bother me as much as the sugar grams. Way too much for the average diabetic!

    • Andrew November 18, 2010 at 3:03 pm #

      Seriously! Talking about Peet’s Eggnog Latte: Twenty grams of saturated fat is…wait for it… an entire day’s allotment (according to the 2005 dietary guidelines)! But still, you’re right–the sugar content is a more immediate concern…

  9. TwoDiffSocks November 16, 2010 at 6:36 pm #

    Hi Ya’ll,

    Starbuck’s Tall Skinny Vanilla or Hazelnut Latte{hot or cold} is 100 calories! http://www.starbucks.com/menu/drinks/espresso/skinny-flavored-latte#size=1111169&milk=61

    Hope This Helps

    • Andrew November 18, 2010 at 9:00 am #

      Good find! I’m wondering if they use an artificial sweetener in the sugar-free syrup? It doesn’t specify on the website… would be good to know if they do, and if so, which one… hmmm….

      Thanks!

      • Marian December 22, 2010 at 3:49 pm #

        Starbucks uses Splenda in their sugar free syrups so I’ve stopped using them and add stevia. They have however made an effort to use milk without rbgh and items without HFCS

        • Andrew December 22, 2010 at 5:10 pm #

          The Center for Science in the Public Interest says the jury’s still out on Stevia — and they actually say that Splenda (Sucralose) is the safest artificial sweetener out there, going so far as to give it a green check mark. (Follow the links above to read their info.)

          Personally, I’m trying to avoid all artificial sweeteners, while reducing my real-sugar intake whenever possible. Cutting out Diet Coke (thanks to October Unprocessed — I haven’t gone back to it since!) eliminated most (actualy, all, I think) of the artificial sweeteners in my diet. However, if I were to use artificial sweeteners, I’d go with CSPI’s recommendation and use Splenda.

          Definitely good on the no-rBGH and no-HFCS, for sure! :)

        • Susan Ackoff & Patti Leiman January 2, 2011 at 7:22 am #

          Hi Pat,

          Patti and I are looking for you. Hopefully you’re the same Pat who graduated from City College. Please contact me if you are.

          Susan

  10. Pat Luchak December 8, 2010 at 4:57 pm #

    I make my own eggnog latte with Peet’s espresso (brewed at home) and Trader Joe’s light eggnog. A cup of the eggnog is 220 calories, and I add 1/2 cup nonfat milk (45 calories). It’s a decent-sized drink and tastes really good. Oh, and the fat calories are just 2 (yes, two).

    • Andrew December 10, 2010 at 8:06 am #

      That sounds like a great way to go. I bet it’s a lot cheaper, too! Does TJ’s light ‘nog use artificial sweeteners, or is it just less sweet, or does it just uses skim-milk instead (saving on fat, not sugar?)?

      I haven’t had eggnog in the past few years, primarily because of my lactose intolerance (though I think Lactaid brand actually makes one now) — and I’m not into it enough to go out of my way to make it work (or make my own). But perhaps I’ll do a little homework and see what it would take to put together a healthier homemade eggnog… hmmm…. :)

  11. Elijah March 20, 2012 at 6:11 pm #

    Sorry, new to this whole thing, but isn’t cream from milk a healthy kind of fat.. in one of your other posts about milk you recommended whole milk over skim. So wouldn’t unsweetened whipping cream (not talking about the stuff out of a can) actually be a good option in your coffee? Actually less processed than skim milk or even soy milk for that matter.

  12. momoffour October 24, 2013 at 11:29 am #

    Excellent post!

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