Starbucks Nutrition Guide for Healthier Drinks and Pumpkin Latte Season

It’s fall and latte season is upon us. Before I was on my health journey, I drank my coffee extra cream and extra sugar. I also discovered pumpkin spice lattes and ever since then I’ve been cursed as a basic b*. I’m not even ashamed to say it. I’m a pumpkin pie fan in moderation. But give me a pumpkin tea, shake or coffee and I’m in love.

Starbucks is known for stirring up the pumpkin spice latte craze and by far has the best one I have ever had. And I’m all about balance so I do allow myself a few lattes during the season. I also spend a lot of time using the wifi during client meetings at Starbucks and find that they offer some great options for people trying to find healthier alternatives to the sugar-laden frappuccinos.

One thing I hear every year is, “I can’t believe your so health-conscious but still get coffee from Starbucks.” I totally get how might confuse people who have sworn off every take-out and fast food joint from now till the end of time, but I’m not one of those people. I still occasionally enjoy a treat from these places. I also want to be clear, just because some place has bad food, doesn’t mean you can’t make better choices.

While Starbucks gets a bad rap for their insanely sugary drinks, everything you order there is your choice. You can get a less sugary drink than the unicorn sugar coma of death if you want. So, instead of treating Starbucks like they forced you to drink that cookie milkshake sans coffee, take charge of your coffee order and take advantage of their better-for-you options.

So what are the top drinks to order at Starbucks if you want a healthier option?

Organic Coffee

I’m all for organic coffee when you can get it because of how heavily the crop is sprayed. If you are lucky enough, your local Starbucks might carry an organic roast. I always ask for it when I’m at the one that it. I love the idea that they are providing it as an option, and as more people ask for it, the more widely available it will become.

The Healthiest Options

Let’s start by saying we all know there is a healthy option here even if it’s not the most fun one. I get it; black coffee is not everyone’s thing. But there are few different ways to try it without sugar if you are looking to get your caffeine fix in without the sugar high to follow.

  • Black brewed hot coffee

  • Shot of espresso

  • Brewed tea unsweetened

  • Iced coffee

  • Cold brew coffee

These are all calorie-free and gives you a few ways to enjoy coffee without all of the calories and sugar.

Milk Alternatives

Milk does not agree with me and I know plenty of people who steer clear of it as well. That’s why it’s so nice that Starbucks now offers almond milk and coconut milk. While these are not the unsweetened version of the milks, it’s still a much lower sugar content than all the pumps of the flavors and can help you save on calories. They provide a little bit of sweetness as well. These non-dairy milks are great for adding to:

  • Lattes

  • Iced coffee (it doesn’t mix that pretty but still tastes good)

  • Cappuccino

  • Hot tea (if you’re into that type of thing)

  • Hot brewed coffee

Sugar-Free Syrup Options

For people who are only worried about calories and not the health aspect of sugar intake then getting fat-free milk and sugar-free syrups are available. I really don’t recommend drinking fat-free versions of milk due to the way it’s processed, and I never recommend using sugar-free items that contain aspartame or sucralose due to the effects it can have on the brain, the stomach and digestive tract.

My preference is to steer clear of them and if I want to enjoy the flavor, to just go with the real thing and make sure the rest of my day doesn’t contain any more processed sugar instead.

Starbucks Drinks Under 200 Calories

Speaking of just being calorie conscious, I want to point out that the Starbucks website has a whole menu dedicated to drinks under 200 calories, so take a look at it and see if there is variation of a drink you like on it. Again, be aware that these may contain artificial sugars so be sure to ask at the counter if you are unsure. One good rule of thumb is that it is always better to cut calories by going for a smaller version of the drink instead of a bigger version with more fake sugar in it.

Enjoying Starbucks Flavors Sans Sugar Coma

I know why you are all reading this. You want to know if there is a healthier version of the Pumpkin Spice Latte. And you’re in luck, because there is. Here are a few tips when ordering your Pumpkin Spice Latte or any other drink that contains the pumps of sugar.

When ordering, be aware of how many pumps of syrup go into each size. A tall has 2 pumps and a Venti has a whopping 4. That is up to about 20 grams of sugar. Depending on the drink, it could have more. So instead of going with what they put in there standard, customize your order, no matter how large to only have 1 pump.

When I order a tall I even ask for half a pump. I still get the flavor without the overwhelming sugar and really enjoy the drink.

Also, order your latte with almond milk instead of regular milk to cut back on the calories from fat as well.

Here’s my order:

  • Tall almond milk, pumpkin spice latte, with ½ pump of syrup.

I don’t tend to feel sick from the sweetness afterward like I used to when I first started drinking these years ago. But I still enjoy a treat from time to time.

I’m not saying these are so healthy that they should be your every day morning coffee, but if you like to enjoy some Starbucks from time to time, you can always change the order to better fit your lifestyle.

Your in Control of You Order

I encourage you to always feel in control of your health even when ordering out. If you’re going to eat out or get take out coffees there are options that allow you to cut back on sugar.

Ask what options you have and consider that even a healthier option should be treated like a treat. If you’re one of the lucky people that enjoys black coffee or plain tea then this place is gold! I do suggest trying to enjoy a variation of black coffee on a regular basis if you can. Trying something over and over again is a way to desensitize your taste buds and get them used to it.

Even if you start with cutting out the sugar and switching to a non dairy milk at first, it’s a step in the right direction. I would love to say that I totally enjoy black coffee, but I don’t yet. I can drink it. But more often you’ll find me enjoying an plain almond milk latte. I’m getting there, but health is a journey and no matter where you are on it, you always have options, even at Starbucks.