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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April 17, 2013 8:58 pm

I research Starbucks every coffee, frap, tea.. and the Best choice coffee Starbucks is CaFFe Misto ..only 10% Sugar.
Have a great day everyone!

March 5, 2013 7:53 am

I’ve found that while I’m not a fan of Starbucks’ green tea hot(I much prefer a cup of plain Tetleys), I love it unsweetened and ice. It satisfies my urge to goto Starbucks and I don’t have to feel guilty!

February 3, 2013 11:12 am

What a bummer! I always thought going with the green tea frapp was somewhat better, plus I loved it! But i guess not!

December 27, 2012 3:12 pm

I love this site. You’re always saving the day for me.

December 8, 2012 7:46 am

What is your take on adding a pump or two of syrup to sweeten black coffee?

July 7, 2012 2:43 am

So is it better to just cut out all the frappucinos?

April 14, 2012 12:57 pm

I also forgot to mention that was with whole milk so the nutritional value of the drink becomes even a better choice making me disagree with your opinion

April 14, 2012 12:54 pm

I was looking in the starbucks website and the Tazo Chai Crème Frappuccino is only 250 calories with sag fat of 2.5g total fat 4 g
Sodium 210mg and sugars 48g and protein 4g obviously with no whipped creme. Its only 50 calories above and I think its a good option when you step into starbucks.

October 6, 2011 5:25 am

I’m confused by your preference for low or non-fat milk, milk comes out ‘whole’ meaning with fat included, and I’ve read that the process that it takes to separate much of the natural fat from the milk also makes it harder to digest and absorb. Isn’t the point of ‘nonprocessed’ not to count calories but instead to eat foods as close to their natural state, from the earth or animal, as possible? In which case whole milk, raw if possible/available would be the least processed choice? I don’t think I could make skim milk in my kitchen, but milking a cow, I could do.

Reply to  Andrew
June 26, 2012 11:53 am

I hear you…my stance on many food- and nutrition-related topics continues to evolve, but I will say that I’ve never bought the low-fat dairy thing, or even the whole low-fat anything thing. I think it’s caused more damage than good. Low-fat things do not satisfy us as much as their full-fat counterparts, so we might have more and eat the same amount of calories anyway, or we may feel emotionally unsatisfied, which can trigger all sorts of unhealthful eating habits. Low-fat dairy has more lactose per volume than full-fat dairy, and I suspect that all those sugars are not helping people lose weight. I don’t know how they are absorbed and dealt with in the body in the context of milk as a whole product, though…on my list of things to research! But ultimately, low-fat products vilify all fat, but it’s not so black and white.

Reply to  Sadie
October 6, 2017 6:51 am

AND: There is some discussion that whole milk dairy actually helps if you want to lose weight, as it makes you feel full and therefore less likely to eat more.

AND: If you need the calcium in the milk, it is supposedly more bioavailable when milk fat is present.

September 14, 2011 5:38 pm

So, I’ve noticed whenever I order soy milk, they always use vanilla soy milk automatically..which has a bunch of extra stuff in it:( Just something to look out for (what a shame!)

Reply to  Katherine
October 10, 2011 10:59 pm

SB only has vanilla soy milk ~__~ it’s not very good tasting either compared to other soy I’ve had girr