How to Lighten Up your Starbucks Drink
If you’re wondering how to lighten up your favorite drink and cut calories at Starbucks, you’re not alone.
As a barista, customers ask this question a lot.
The good news is, there are at least eight ways you can cut calories, reduce carbs or lower the sugar content in your favorite Starbucks drink.
Starbucks espresso, and brewed coffee and tea, either have just a few calories or are calorie-free. It’s the milk, syrups, sweetener, whipped cream, drizzles and toppings, however, that make some of these drinks so decadent.
Of course, the goal is to lighten up your Starbucks drink order without sacrificing all that delicious flavor. And that can be accomplished.
As a matter of fact, you may even prefer the healthier, customized version your barista creates for you. As a bonus, it doesn’t come with a side of guilt.
Let’s get started. Here are the best tips I give my customers every day when they ask me how to lower their drinks calories, carbs or sugar.
1. Go Down a Cup Size
Obviously, a smaller drink has less calories than a bigger one. That goes without saying.
The thing is, caffeine-seeking customers often don’t want to get a smaller drink simply because they don’t want less caffeine.
However, did you know a grande size latte has the same number of shots of espresso as a venti?
That’s right, you can get a grande latte instead of a venti without sacrificing caffeine content. But, you save calories since the grande has less milk and one less pump of syrup compared to a venti.
In the end, going down a cup size doesn’t change the taste of your Starbucks drink one bit. Think of it as getting less of a good thing.
2. Decrease the Pumps of Syrup
Starbucks is pretty well-known for their line-up of sweet, flavorful syrups.
As a matter of fact, it’s these syrups that transform an espresso into flavor-filled drinks like a Vanilla Latte, Cinnamon Dolce Latte or Peppermint Mocha.
However, the number of pumps of syrup depends on the size drink you order.
As reference, each pump of bottled syrup is about 1/2 tablespoon and depending on the flavor, about 10-15 calories per pump. (Note: This is info is for syrups not sauces.)
So to shave off calories, sugar and carbs, just ask your barista for less pumps of syrup.
3. Swap Regular Syrup for Sugar-free Syrup
Did you know Starbucks has a couple sugar-free syrups? They include Sugar-free Vanilla and Sugar-free Cinnamon Dolce. Both are sweetened with the artificial sugar substitute sucralose.
So while it’s not possible to opt for sugar-free syrup for all Starbucks coffee drinks, you can request it for many.
For instance, here are some popular Starbucks drinks that contain either vanilla syrup or cinnamon dolce:
- Caramel Macchiato
- Vanilla Latte
- Cinnamon Dolce Latte
4. Substitute Syrup with Another Type of Sweetener
While most of Starbucks syrups add flavor and sweetness to your drink, Classic Syrup and Liquid Cane Sugar merely act as sweeteners.
Basically, both of these syrups are liquid sugar. However, Liquid Cane is exclusive to Starbucks iced tea drinks.
Since the sole job of these syrups is to make your coffee or tea sweeter, you can easily substitute it with one of Starbucks many other sugar-alternatives or packaged sugars without sacrificing any flavor.
This way, you can select a sweetener that meets whatever your health goal is and control the amount you put in your drink.
Starbucks sweetener options include Splenda, Stevia, Sugar in the Raw and more.
5. Flavor with Spice
For customers really trying to knock out all calories, but want a little extra flavor, Starbucks has a few no-calorie powders to add a touch of spice to your coffee.
So instead of syrup, consider sprinkling a little Cinnamon Powder or Nutmeg Powder on top of your latte.
With each foamy sip you’ll get a little taste of cinnamon or nutmeg.
6. Use a Milk Alternative
Calories in many Starbucks coffee drinks mainly come from two places—milk and syrup.
But the bulk of the calories and accompanying sugar, fat and whatever else you’re trying to avoid, come from milk.
For example, a grande vanilla latte (16 ounces) is 250 calories.
Here’s the calorie breakdown.
The espresso has 0 calories. Four pumps of vanilla syrup equals 60 calories. As I’m sure you guessed, the source of the remaining calories is milk.
In other words, 190 of the 250 calories in a 16-ounce vanilla latte are milk.
Of course, this is because 2% dairy milk is what Starbucks uses for hot and iced coffees, unless you request otherwise.
Since 2% milk comes in at around 100 calories per cup, you can see how choosing another milk option is a great way to change up your drink’s nutritional content.
For instance, plant-based almond milk is only about 39 calories per cup. That’s a big difference compared to cow’s milk!
Here are all Starbucks milk options:
- Sweet Cream
- Breve (half and half)
- Heavy Cream
- 2% Milk
- Whole Milk
7. Skip the Whip, Drizzles & Toppings
Perhaps this is the most painful way to reduce the calories in your favorite Starbucks drink. Or am I speaking for myself?
Nothing makes some of Starbucks most popular drinks look as tempting as that decadent swirl of whipped cream, especially when it’s drizzled with sauce or sprinkled with a crunchy topping.
But if you’re serious about saving calories or cutting back on sugar, asking for no whipped cream is an option.
In place of whipped cream, ask the barista to scoop all the milk foam on top of your lattes or mocha.
Additionally, Starbucks has lots of hot and iced coffee drinks and a couple frappuccinos already on the menu that don’t have whipped cream or toppings.
8. Try a New Drink
If all else fails, maybe it’s time to switch your Starbucks drink altogether.
I mean, Starbucks does have calorie-free coffee and espresso drinks. And you can easily select add-ins like a splash of your choice of milk.
As a matter of fact, Starbucks has many skinny (non-fat, no whip, sugar-free) coffee options.
Starbucks calorie-free coffee beverages include espresso shots, brewed coffee (hot and iced), cold brew coffee and Americanos (hot and iced).
This is often a good place to start. Then you can build up from there to make a perfectly customized lighter Starbucks coffee drink.