19 Sugar Free Drinks to Order at Starbucks

19 Sugar Free Drinks to Order at Starbucks

When you need an early-morning caffeine fix or an afternoon pick-me-up, Starbucks might be your go-to spot for a cup of coffee or yummy espresso drink. But certain Starbucks drinks are complete sugar bombs, thanks to syrups, drizzles, whipped cream, and even cookie crumbles. If you’re trying to reduce your sugar consumption, do you need to walk on by — or at least switch to black coffee?

Not at all. There are actually plenty of options at Starbucks if you’re cutting out sugar — you just need to know what to order. Here are a few safe bets when you’re going sugar-free.

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NOTE: With the exception of espresso shots, the nutritional stats below refer to the tall (12-ounce) drink size at Starbucks.

 

Naturally Occurring Sugar vs. Added Sugar

When deciding what to order at Starbucks on a sugar free diet, it’s important to look at whether an item contains naturally occurring sugar or added sugar.

Naturally occurring sugar — like the fructose in fresh fruit, or the lactose in milk — is fine even if you’re following a sugar-free diet. Added sugars are what you need to watch out for. Any sugar or syrup that’s added during the preparation process is added sugar. (Added sugars are sometimes hidden on the ingredients list under sneaky names like agave nectar or corn syrup, but they’re still sugar.)

The sugar content in the drinks below comes from naturally occurring sugars — so these drinks are a safe bet if you’re cutting out added sugars.

 

Espresso Drinks and Hot Coffee Drinks

sugar in starbucks drinks- espresso drinks

This drink category includes some of the most sugar-filled drinks at Starbucks — including the beloved PSL with 39 grams of sugar. But there are still plenty of hot coffee and espresso drinks you can enjoy on a sugar-free diet. The drinks below contain only naturally occurring milk sugar (or no sugar at all).

PRO TIP: Watch for espresso drinks with sneaky added sugars. For example, the Caffè Mocha looks similar to the Caffè Latte, but its mocha sauce and whipped cream bring the total sugar content to 28 grams of sugar.

 

Cold Brews and Iced Coffees

sugar in starbucks drinks- cold brew

There are plenty of refreshing cold coffee drinks you can enjoy without boosting your added sugar consumption for the day.

  • Cold Brew with Cold Foam (5 grams of milk sugar) is a better bet than syrup-sweetened cold brew options.
  • Nitro Cold Brew contains zero sugar. (Starbucks says that’s possible because infusing the coffee with nitrogen gives it a naturally sweet flavor — works for us!)
  • Iced Flat White (8 grams of milk sugar) can satisfy your craving for a cold and creamy treat, but all of its sugar comes from whole milk. (Consider ordering this drink with 1% or 2% milk to lower the fat content and calorie count.)
  • Nitro Flat White (14 grams of milk sugar) contains a bit more natural sugar than an Iced Flat White, but it’s still natural sugar from milk.
  • Iced Caffè Latte (9 grams of milk sugar) contains slightly less natural sugar than the hot version of the same drink.

 

Teas

sugar in starbucks drinks- tea

Starbucks tea lattes can be loaded with sugar, but you can satisfy your cravings by ordering hot tea and adding a splash of milk.

  • Teavana Chai Tea
  • Earl Grey Black Tea
  • Royal English Breakfast Black Tea
  • Rev Up Wellness Brewed Tea
  • Emperor’s Cloud and Mist Green Tea
  • Jade Citrus Mint Brewed Tea
  • Mint Majesty Herbal Tea
  • Comfort Wellness Brewed Tea

 

3 Tips for Cutting Out Sugar at Starbucks

If you’re starting a sugar-free lifestyle — but you still love your ‘bux — here are a few tips to keep in mind when you’re deciding what to order.

  • Focus on added sugars.

When you’re knocking out sugar, you’re looking to reduce added sugars, as opposed to naturally occurring ones like those found in dairy milk. According to dietitian Michelle Abbey, RDN, of The Nature Nutritionist, natural sugars are found in foods that also contain key nutrients like protein, fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. “It’s the refined and added sugars that you need to watch, because they add calories without any nutritional benefits,” Abbey says.

  • Choose unsweetened plant milks.

Plant milks labeled as “original” are typically sugar-sweetened versions. Make sure you choose unsweetened plant milk; if the barista isn’t sure if their plant milks are unsweetened, it’s better to just skip it.

  • Check the nutritional data.

Sure, it sounds obvious — but Starbucks doesn’t differentiate between natural sugars and added sugars in their nutritional information, which can make it tricky when you’re trying to cut out added sugars. Still, a good rule of thumb is to look for a sky-high sugar content. One cup of whole milk contains around 12 grams of naturally occurring sugar, so if you see a drink with double or triple that number, there’s a good chance it contains added sugars.

 

sugar in starbucks drinks

Elizabeth Millard

About

Elizabeth Millard has written for Men's Health, SELF, Prevention, Runner's World, and several other health and wellness publications. Based in Northern Minnesota (yes, it's just as cold as you've heard), she's also a rock climber, obstacle course enthusiast, and registered yoga teacher. Follow her on Twitter.

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