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Cutting Calories at Starbucks

Updated on October 2, 2015

Lots of us stop at Starbucks each morning to fuel the tank for the day, or perhaps in the afternoon or evening to relax and chat. Starbucks' stock in trade—coffee—is essentially calorie-free, but many customers opt for something more refreshing—and likely more caloric.

The 16oz Grande espresso beverages at Starbucks can pack as many as 430 calories—before you add whipped cream. You can easily choose a satisfying drink while saving 100 calories or more. If you visit Starbucks five times a week, that adds up to 26,000 calories annually. You need to burn about 3,500 calories to lose a pound, so saving those 26,000 calories can help you drop 7 pounds a year without even running around the block.


Starbucks publishes nutritional information for the products it sells. This can vary slightly since many drinks are prepared by hand, and foods can vary between outlets. Nevertheless, this can help you make choices that can save hundreds of calories a day, keeping several pounds from sagging off your svelte frame during the course of a year.

Adults need 2,000 to 3,000 calories per day to maintain their weight, depending on their size and activity levels, according to WebMD. If you need 2,500 calories a day, for example, then one Starbucks drink could account for as much as 20 percent of that. A more conservative estimate is 10 percent. Still, that's a big chunk of your daily consumption. Fortunately, it's not hard to dial that back significantly if you order wisely.

Brewed Coffee

Coffee has essentially no calories. The surprise is the iced coffee. If you don't ask, it could be sweetened—a 16oz Grande contains 90 calories. Always specify if you want your iced coffee unsweetened.

The first Starbucks store
The first Starbucks store | Source

Chocolate Beverages

A plain hot chocolate made with 2-percent milk sets you back 290 calories; peppermint is 360 and white hot chocolate 420 calories. Switch your plain hot chocolate to nonfat milk and you save 50 calories. Take that down from 16oz Grande to 12oz Tall and you're at 190 calories, saving another 50 calories. Skip the whipped cream, which adds 60 calories and 6 grams of fat to your Tall hot chocolate.


A latte starts as a shot or two of espresso topped with steamed milk. From there you can add flavorings and extra shots.

A 16oz caffè latte made with 2-percent milk contains 190 calories. Flavored lattes come in at 250 calories. Ask for nonfat milk and save 50 to 60 calories. Order a 12oz Tall latte and you take in just 100 calories in a caffè latte and 150 in a flavored latte. A Grande Skinny Flavored Latte is made with sugar-free flavored syrup, bringing the count down to 120 calories.

A 16oz vanilla latte made with 2-percent milk is 250 calories.


A cappuccino has less milk than a latte, and hence a stronger coffee flavor.

A Grande cappuccino made with 2-percent milk is just 120 calories. Nonfat milk brings it down to 80 calories, and a Tall nonfat is only 60 calories.


A caffè mocha combines chocolate, espresso and steamed milk. You can top it with whipped cream if you like.

A Grande caffè mocha made with 2-percent milk will set you back 260 calories. Whipped cream adds 70 calories. Skip the whipped cream and ask for nonfat milk to reduce the calorie count to 220. Scale back to a Tall drink with nonfat milk and you're at 170 calories.

You can run a mocha up to a substantial calorie count. For example, a Grande white chocolate mocha made with 2-percent milk is 400 calories. Ouch!

The Starbucks Story

Starbucks started with a single shop that opened in 1971 in Seattle's Pike Place Market. The store sold whole bean and ground coffee. The company is named after the first mate in Herman Melville's novel, Moby Dick.

Howard Schultz first entered a Starbucks store in 1981 and took a job as the company's director of retail operations and marketing in 1982. He's now chairman, president and chief executive officer.

Schultz was impressed by Milan's espresso bars on a 1983 trip to Italy. He saw a place for a coffeehouse as a place for conversation and a sense of community. He opened a Starbucks coffeehouse in downtown Seattle in 1984, where he introduced the Starbucks Caffè Latte.

Schultz left to start a chain of Il Giomale coffeehouses in 1985. That company purchased Starbucks in August 1987 and took the Starbucks name for the combined operation.

Starbucks offered full health benefits to eligible full- and part-time employees starting in 1988.

Starbucks completed an initial public offering in 1992, listed as SBUX on the NASDAQ.

The bottled Frappuccino coffee drink was first sold in 1996 by a partnership between Starbucks and Pepsi-Cola. Starbucks acquired the Portland, Ore.-based Tazo tea company in 1998.

Starbucks became licensed to sell Fairtrade certified coffee in the U.S. and Canada in 2000. The company introduced ethical coffee-sourcing guidelines in partnership with Conservation International in 2001. Starbucks expanded its Fairtrade certification in 2002 to other countries where it does business.

The company acquired the Seattle Coffee Company in 2003, and with it the Seattle's Best Coffee and Torrefazione Italia coffee brands. Ethos Water was acquired in 2005.

Starbucks introduced a paper cup containing post-consumer recycled fiber in 2006, saving more than 75,000 trees a year. The company eliminated artificial trans fat and made 2 percent milk the standard in its espresso beverages in 2007.

Starbucks had more than 17,000 stores in over 55 countries as of December 2011.


A caramel macchiato consists of steamed milk with vanilla syrup, topped with espresso and caramel sauce. A Grande made with 2-percent milk packs 240 calories. Make that nonfat milk and it drops to 190 calories. A Tall macchiato contains 140 calories. A Grande Skinny Caramel Macchiato is 140 calories; its Tall cousin is only 100 calories.

Cold Drinks

Iced drinks tend to have fewer calories than their warm counterparts. For example, a 16oz iced caffè mocha has 200 calories, while a hot one is 260 calories. Switching to nonfat milk takes that down to 170 calories, and reducing the size to 12 ounces reduces it to 130 calories. An iced skinny mocha is just 70 calories. An iced skinny flavored latte is 60 calories.

Drinks Under 200 Calories

Starbucks lists a number of drinks on its website with fewer than 200 calories.

The least caloric hot drinks, again in the Tall size, are coffee, of course, followed by Caffè Americano with 10 calories and nonfat cappuccino with 60. A Caffè Americano consists of espresso with added hot water.

Best among the cold drinks is an unsweetened Shaken Tazo Iced Passion Tea, with no calories. Iced (sweetened) coffee and an iced skinny latte both contain 60 calories. Note that these are Tall (12oz) drinks. Not on the list is an iced Caffè Americano, which is calorie-free.

The Extras

Do you add sugar to your coffee? A packet of sugar contains 11 calories, according to Livestrong. Knock out the sugar, or reduce from two packets to one, and you save around 3,000 calories in a year. That doesn't seem like much, but it'll keep about a pound of fat off your frame.

A tablespoon of half-and-half is 20 calories, and the same volume of cream contains 59 calories, says calorie count. Knock out the half-and-half and you save about 5,000 calories a year, good for 1-1/2 pounds of fat.


Most foods offered at Starbucks contain between 300 and 500 calories. For example, and apple bran muffin contains 350 calories and 9 grams of fat. A multigrain bagel has 300 calories and 3 grams of fat.

Have a bowl of oatmeal for only 140 calories if you're getting breakfast. Steer clear of the sausage & cheddar classic breakfast sandwich, with 500 calories and 28 grams of fat.

For lunch, a roasted vegetable panini is 350 calories and 12 grams of fat; an egg salad sandwich is 460 calories and 27 grams of fat.

Better skip lunch.
Better skip lunch. | Source


Starbucks offers many variations of its drinks. Take a few minutes to study the nutritional information for various choices and be prepared to save some calories next time you drop by your local Starbucks outlet.


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    • giocatore profile image

      giocatore 5 years ago

      Thanks for your comment.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 5 years ago from south Florida

      Watch you back, my friend. Starbucks would prefer that customers not know the tremendous caloric count in some of their products.