Healthy Options at Starbucks, Part 2: Drinks

Starbucks Cups

Last week’s entry was about Starbucks’ healthier food options, and here’s the follow up with the beverages.  Between the various sizes, substitution options, and myriad of sweeteners, there are literally thousands of possible combinations.  I’ve tried to pick the best representations in each category.

If you’re going to add that splash of milk, go with the Nonfat (2 ounces adds 22 calories), or maybe the Soymilk (25 cal) or  2% Milk (30 cal).  Avoid adding Whole Milk (37 cal) or Half & Half (78 cal) — It might not seem like a lot, but if you cut out 78 calories a day, that can have a big cumulative effect.

All nutrition info below is based on the “Grande” 16 ounce size.  Get a 12 ounce “Tall” instead and you can reduce everything by 25%.  You may also want to check out their list of “Delicious Drinks Under 200 Calories” (Note:  Everything on that list is Tall, not Grande).

Okay, one final thought before we get to it:  If it comes with whipped cream, it’s not coffee — it’s dessert.

Brewed Black Coffee or Tea – Best Choice Overall

The basic cup of Starbucks joe has 5 calories (and a whopping 330mg of caffeine).

Hot Tea — without milk, sugar, or honey — is zero (yup, zero) calories.

Hot Espresso Beverages – Better Choices

Regular Espresso (1 ounce shot) or Espresso Macchiato (adds steamed nonfat milk foam)
5 calories, 75mg caffeine

Cappuccino with Nonfat Milk
80 cal, no fat, 90mg sodium, 10g sugar, 8g protein, 150mg caffeine

Caffè Latte with Nonfat Milk
130 calories, no fat, 150mg sodium, 18g sugar, 13g protein, 150mg caffeine

Hot Espresso Beverages – Worst Choices

The info below is with nonfat milk and no whipped cream.  Getting them with 2% milk and whipped cream adds 12g of fat and 110 calories.

Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha
430 cal, 5g sat fat, 7g total fat, 230mg sodium, 75g sugar, 14g protein, 150mg caffeine

White Chocolate Mocha
350 cal, 4.5g sat fat, 6g total fat, 240mg sodium, 58g sugar, 15g protein, 150mg caffeine

Peppermint Mocha
280 cal, 0.5g sat fat, 3g total fat, 120mg sodium, 49g sugar, 12g protein, 175mg caffeine

Dark Cherry Mocha
270 cal, 1.5g sat fat, 2.5g total fat, 115mg sodium, 49g sugar, 12g protein, 175mg caffeine

Frappuccino® Blended Beverages – Better Choices

Coffee Frappuccino® Light Blended Beverage
130cal, 0.5g total fat, 230mg sodium, 16g sugar, 5g protein, 95mg caffeine

Cinnamon Dolce Frappuccino® Light Blended Beverage
140cal, 0.5g total fat, 230mg sodium, 21g sugar, 5g protein, 95mg caffeine

Mocha Light Frappuccino® Blended Beverage
140cal, 1g total fat, 230mg sodium, 19g sugar, 6g protein, 95mg caffeine

Frappuccino® Blended Beverages – Worst choices

Of the 21 Frappuccino varieties, fifteen are 200 calories or more.  The two at the bottom of the list are:

Double Chocolaty Chip Frappuccino® Blended Beveragewithout whipped cream
400 cal, 4g sat fat, 8g total fat, 290mg sodium, 57g sugar, 13g protein, 25mg caffeine

White Chocolate Crème Frappuccino® Blended Beveragewithout whipped cream
480 cal, 4g sat fat, no total fat [huh??], 410mg sodium (!), 77g sugar, 15g protein, 110mg caffeine

Add whipped cream to any of the above and tack on another 110 calories.

Vivanno™ Smoothies – Better Choices

At first glance I shunned these smoothies because they’re fairly high in sugar.  However, it’s mostly natural sugars (from fruit), so they’re actually pretty good. The website says that each one is made with four ingredients — including a whole banana, whey protein/fiber powder, and ice.  The fourth ingredient is either orange-mango juice, strawberry puree, or “mocha flavored sauce,” depending on which you get.

The difference between the “Better” and “Worst” choices is marginal, so don’t stress over this one.

Orange Mango with Nonfat Milk
260 cal, 0g sat fat, 1g total fat, 110mg sodium, 5g fiber, 34g sugar, 15g protein, no caffeine

Chocolate with Nonfat Milk
250 cal, 0.5g sat fat, 2g total fat, 140mg sodium, 6g fiber, 30g sugar, 18g protein, 15mg caffeine

Vivanno™ Smoothies – Worst Choice

Strawberry with 2% Milk
280 cal, 1g sat fat, 1.5g total fat, 110mg sodium, 41g sugar, 7g fiber, 15g protein, no caffeine


Hot Chocolate Beverages – Better Choice

Okay, there really isn’t a healthy choice in this category, but if you’re going to splurge, at least get the:

Hot Chocolate with Nonfat Milkand skip the whipped-cream
240 cal, 0.5g sat fat, 2.5g total fat, 140mg sodium, 40g sugar, 14g protein, 25mg caffeine

Hot Chocolate Beverages – Worst Choices

White Hot Chocolate with 2% Milk and Whipped Cream
490 cal,  13g sat fat, 19g total fat, 260mg sodium, 62g sugar, 16g protein, no caffeine

White Hot Chocolate with Nonfat milk, no Whipped Cream
360 cal, 4.5g sat fat, 6g fat, 260mg sodium, 61g sugar, 16g protein, no caffeine

Hot Chocolate with 2% Milk and Whipped Cream
370 cal, 9g sat fat, 16g total fat, 150mg sodium, 40g sugar, 14g protein, 25mg caffeine

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.

Starbucks Nutrition Info for All Beverages

Photo by Orangeya.

See Also: Healthy Food Options at Starbucks.

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Tehara Dalpethado
September 25, 2017 10:46 am

is almond milk a good choice as a healthy option?

July 12, 2014 9:01 am

It amuses me that this article is named ‘healthy options’ yet only talks about calories. Coke zero has 0 calories and 0 sugar but you will get very sick drinking it. Basically everything sold by starbucks is rubbish and will make you ill if you regularly drink it long term. Don’t count calories, count the terrible chemicals you’re putting into your body.

Reply to  Alice
July 12, 2014 9:04 am

However, to go along with the point of this article, prehaps black coffee or tea is the best option if you really want to be serious about health.
A frappachino is of course not going to hurt you once in a while but if you’re going to go for it, go for it; Fat-free options will also make you sick. The more they tamper with it the worse it becomes for your body.

February 5, 2014 12:00 pm

Well…I used to be a barista at Starbucks and gained lots of weight when I worked there…nobody’s fault by own, though, for partaking in so many of the high sugar drinks and pastries! About 2 yrs ago, I began a weight-loss journey and have been maintaining my nearly 90-lb weight loss for nearly the last year. I drink a brewed coffee every morning, whether I brew my own at home or stop by Starbucks. No longer do I add any sugar, but I don’t usually drink a lot of milk, either. I add a little splash of cream…not much but just enough. If I decide to order a latte or cappuccino (maybe once a week), I go with 2% milk because I find it to be more satisfying than non-fat and not quite as fattening as whole milk. But, the doctor at my weight loss clinic made it very clear… Read more »