15 Lowest-Sugar Starbucks Drinks that are Still Delicious
Starbucks is known for its sugary drinks, but it’s possible to bypass the sugar entirely or customize your order to reduce the added sugar without skipping some of their popular coffee creations. To help you on this front, I did some sleuthing to find the lowest-sugar Starbucks drinks.
When I started digging through the nutritional facts of popular Starbucks drinks, I found that some drinks can rack a shocking amount of added sugar–over 80 grams, depending on the size of the drink, type of milk, toppings, and the number of syrup pumps, etc.
The American Heart Association recommends no more than 25 to 36 grams of added sugar per day for women and men respectively. So you can see how your Starbucks order can contribute more than two days’ worth of added sugar!! But with a few tweaks and modifications, you can enjoy your favorite Starbucks coffee without maxing out your daily sugar allowance.
Lowest-Sugar Starbucks Drinks
After taking a deep dive in search of low-sugar Starbucks drinks, I’ve created the perfect list of Starbucks drinks with less sugar, so you can satisfy your coffee cravings without winding up in a sugar slump! There is no set number for what is considered ‘low in added sugar,’ so for the sake of this article, I’ve decided on less than 10 grams of added sugar as my cut-off point.
Before we dive into my top picks, I want to highlight some important considerations for how I compiled this list.
Firstly, Starbucks only provides information about the total sugars in their drinks–they don’t list the amount of added sugars. (Here’s where you’ll see Starbucks’ nutritional info.) So, I did some recon work and went into the store to find out which of their plant-based milks have the least added sugar. (OK, my son went into the store and wasn’t psyched about the sleuthing, but that’s another story!)
Meanwhile, milk has natural sugar–not added sugar–so the sugar in milk doesn’t count toward added sugar totals. So, to compute the amount of added sugar in Starbucks drinks, I looked at the amount of sugar in the dairy-based drink compared to the non-dairy ones and then compared these numbers to the nutrition facts labels from the store. I used these calculations when I didn’t have published data to rely on.
If you drink dairy and want to minimize your added sugar levels, I’d recommend using it in all these drinks. Doing so will lessen the added sugar totals I’ve listed here. It will also bring some protein and calcium to your low-sugar Starbucks drinks. Note that when I’ve listed the added sugars as 0 below, it reflects the use of dairy milk.
But suppose you avoid dairy because you’re allergic, intolerant, or following a plant-based diet or another eating plan that restricts dairy. In that case, I’ve calculated the best way to order low-sugar Starbucks coffee using various plant-based milks. So let’s get into it!
1. Caffè Americano – 0 grams
An Americano is as simple as it gets as far as coffee orders go, with only two ingredients, espresso, and water. With 5 calories and no sugar, this is an excellent option for a midday pick-me-up and is certainly a top low-sugar Starbucks coffee drink!
Remember, if you add a splash of plant-based milk to your Americano, you’ll get some added sugars–the amount depends on which of the options you choose.
2. Espresso Macchiato – 0 grams
If espresso is a little too drastic for you (I've never been one for a straight espresso), perhaps a macchiato is a good transitioning option for you. An espresso macchiato is made with a dollop of steamed milk and foam.
The amount of added sugar will depend on the type of milk, with almond milk being your lowest-sugar option. If almond milk is too thin for you, coconut or oat milk is your next best bet. And keep in mind that the added sugar goes up the larger your drink, so a smaller drink will reduce your added sugar intake.
3. Caffè Latte – 0 to 9 grams
If you’re looking for something creamier while still keeping things simple, a Caffè Latte will be right up your alley! A latte is made with an espresso and topped with brewed milk and a layer of foam–so it may come as no surprise that it makes the list of low-sugar Starbucks drinks!
Almond milk tends to be the lowest in added sugar with regard to non-dairy milks, so if you stick with a standard tall latte with almond milk, there will be around 4g of added sugar. However, if you want a cafe latte with coconut or soy milk, you’ll want to stick to the short size with 6 and 9 grams of added sugar, respectively. Keep in mind if you add any syrups or sweeteners, the added sugar content will increase.
4. Cappuccino – 0 to 9 grams
A cappuccino has more foam as opposed to milk, but based on my calculations, it can still be high in added sugar if you’re using a plant-based milk. A tall cappuccino made with soy, oat, or coconut milk will max out at 9 grams of added sugar, with soy having the most, based on the labels I saw. You can lower the added sugar even more by swapping the milk for almond milk, with only 4 grams of added sugar.
If you want to step it up a size, stick to the almond milk, which is still a very reasonable 5 grams of added sugar.
A cappuccino also has fewer calories than a caffè latte, so this option is a double bonus if you want to lower your calorie and added sugar intake.
If you’re choosing a dairy milk in your cappuccino, it will have more calories, but it also has no added sugars and offers a nice hit of protein, with a grande supplying 8 grams of this muscle-building nutrient.
5. Cold Brewed Coffee (with milk) – 0 to 6 grams
Ever heard of a trenta sized coffee? Me either! But regardless of whether this is your go-to coffee size, you won't exceed 6 grams of added sugar regardless of the milk you choose! And I'm emphasizing ‘with milk’ here because a cold brew without milk has 0 calories and no sugar.
However, if you like your cold brew with a splash of milk, that’s when added sugar comes into play. Again, syrups and sweeteners, and sauces can all rack up the added sugar, so be mindful of that. If you like a little sweetness, go with a smaller size and add only 1 pump of syrup, or opt for the sugar-free syrup if that option works for you.
6. Iced Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte – 0 to 7 grams
You may be surprised that this made my list, but before you get all excited and rush out to Starbucks, I want to provide context to my why! By using the word ‘skinny’, Starbucks is making it known that they use non-fat milk and a sugar-free cinnamon dolce flavored syrup. I recommend limiting both added sugars and sugar alternatives, but if this drink is non-negotiable, your best bet is to stick with dairy milk, which has no added sugar.
This drink is typically made with dairy milk, so there’s no data using plant-based milk. It appears that a grande has a little less than a cup of milk, so with that in mind, a grande with oat or coconut milk should run you a little less than 7 grams of added sugar, while making one with almond milk will supply no more than 4 grams of added sugar.
7. Latte Macchiato – 0 to 7 grams
The name in itself explains the essence of this drink - espresso with steamed milk. If you’re losing track of how all these lattes differ, you can remember that a latte macchiato is a single espresso with steamed milk, so it will be weaker than a flat white (this is a double espresso). It also has no foam, which is how it differs from a traditional latte.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, a short latte macchiato comes in under 10g of added sugar if you opt for soy, coconut, or almond milk, with almond milk being as low as 2 grams of added sugar.
If you order any size bigger than a tall, you’ll be in for more than 10 grams of added sugar using soy milk. But you can order a grande latte macchiato using almond, oat milk for 3 to 7 grams of added sugar, with almond milk having the least.
Flat White – 0 to 9 grams
Originating in Australia and quickly becoming a fan favorite globally, a flat white is a good choice if you’re looking for something a bit stronger but with enough milk to keep it creamy. If a flat white is completely foreign to you (excuse the pun!) Starbucks describes it as a “not-too-strong, not-too-creamy” coffee, as it incorporates less milk and less of a foam layer compared to a latte.
A tall flat with almond or coconut milk is relatively low in added sugar, offering 4g and 9g of added sugar, respectively. A flat white is also lower in calories than a latte as it has less milk–something to keep in mind if you’re considering calories too!
9. Caffè Misto – 0 to 10 grams
Starbucks describes a Misto as a “one-to-one combination of fresh-brewed coffee and steamed milk”. This differs from a latte by not having a layer of foam–so technically, it’s milkier.
This hot beverage provides less than 10 grams of added sugars, no matter if you order it with soy, coconut, or almond milk. Try to avoid the venti size, as this is where we are hitting the higher end of added sugar!
10. Shaken Iced Passion Tango Tea Lemonade – 9 grams
If you’re more of a tea lover, you’ll be happy to know that this tall passion tango tea lemonade made my list for a low-added sugar option with 9 grams of added sugar. This refreshing drink may be more appealing if you’re looking to cool off and stay hydrated.
Meanwhile, the grande ordered as is has 11 grams of added sugar, but I want to point out that you can modify it to lower the sugar content. Starbucks has options to substitute for light lemonade, light juice blends, and light base refreshers–all of which can reduce the added sugar. You also have the option to leave any of these ingredients out altogether. Any or all of these modifications will be sure to lower the sugar content.
11. Caramel Macchiato – 10 grams
This is a more decadent option made with steamed milk, vanilla-flavored syrup, an espresso, and a caramel drizzle to top it all off. The use of caramel sauce and vanilla syrup can quickly turn this delicious drink into a dessert!
But if you can’t go a day without one, a short caramel macchiato with almond milk is the best plant-based option with 10 grams of added sugar. To make this less sugary, skip the caramel drizzle and ask for sugar-free vanilla syrup (though I also recommend using sugar-free syrups judiciously).
Indulgent Starbucks Drinks
It was important to me that I include options that you would typically consume less frequently but that are still lower in added sugar compared to those Starbucks drinks with excessive amounts of added sugar. So for the sake of frilly drinks (as I like to call them), I’ve focused on Starbucks drinks with less than 20 grams of added sugar.
12. Caffé Mocha – 12 to 20 grams
On days when you're feeling like something a bit more indulgent, opt for a short Cafe Mocha with almond milk, which has 12 grams of added sugars. Boosting the size to a tall will bring that to 20 grams of added sugar. Be mindful of those added toppings, whip cream, and syrups, as they will add even more sugar to this drink.
13. Cinnamon Dolce Latte – 14 to 20 grams
A short almond milk cinnamon dolce latte has 14 grams of added sugar–again, this is without any whip cream or toppings. You can also get away with just less than 20 grams of added sugar if you go choose almond or oat milk.
In this case, a short uses 2 pumps of syrup, so to make it less sugary, ask for fewer syrup pumps or go for a sugar-free version entirely. You can also remove any toppings or ask for what light options are available.
14. Chai Tea Latte – 17 to 20 grams
The coziness of chia flavors makes this the ultimate comfort drink! However, the added sugar in the chai concentrate means that all the bigger sizes have more than 20 grams of added sugar. So, your best bet is to go for a short size. All plant-based milks come in just under 20 g of added sugar, with almond milk offering the least with 17g of added sugar.
15. White Chocolate Mocha – 20 grams
If you simply cannot resist a decadent white chocolate mocha, remember that this is not off limits--you can control the amount of added sugar by going for a smaller size, shying away from whip cream and other toppings, and choosing a less sweetened milk.
If you stick to a short, almond milk option with no whip or toppings, there will be 20 grams of added sugar. As I said, I wouldn’t recommend this as an everyday option, but it is significantly less than other variations that can rack up over 60 grams of added sugar.
How to Order Other Starbucks Drinks with Less Sugar
I have briefly touched on ways to lower the sugar in your Starbucks drink, but I wanted to list out some easy ways to rethink your drink!
Go for sugar-free syrups: This option may not always be available at the Starbucks you go to, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. Sugar-free syrups have zero sugar, thereby lowering the sugar content significantly. While I recommend eating sugar and sugar substitutes judiciously, you’re going to be better off using the sugar-free syrups if you’re drinking sugary drinks often.
Say no to toppings, drizzles, and whips: These tend to be the biggest sources of hidden added sugars. You can cut out a heap of added sugar by vetoing sprinkles, whip cream, and any other sugary toppings.
Choose a small size: This may sound like I'm stating the obvious, but going for a smaller size can be incredibly impactful–especially if you’re ordering more than one Starbucks beverage per day. If a small coffee won’t cut it, I suggest sticking to the lowest-sugar Starbucks drinks–like a cold brew.
Ask for fewer syrup pumps: This seems too simple to really make a difference, but you'd be surprised by how much sugar there is in each pump of syrup. Each pump has 5 grams of added sugar, according to what I found online. Cutting back to a single pump as opposed to three or four pumps can be a game changer and seriously lower the amount of added sugar you consume.
Choose one of the lowest-sugar Starbucks drinks: If you’re ever in doubt, take a look at this list and opt for one of these drinks. I put a ton of work into researching these options, so you don’t have to overthink it!
Many typical Starbucks drinks have several days’ worth of added sugars. Drinking these less often or making modifications to your order can lower your added sugar intake. When your added sugar intake is in a healthier range, you can expect better sleep, more energy, and improved mental and physical health.
Remember, you don’t need to make drastic changes to your coffee order to lower your added sugar intake. It can be as simple as fewer syrup pumps, going for a smaller size, and being smart with the type of milk you select–any of these modifications will make a world of difference. If this is a lot of information to process and you feel overwhelmed with how to go forward with ordering, start small. Go for the smallest size or switch your milk from oat milk to almond milk, and you’re already moving in the right direction.
Healthy habits come from small changes that we practice every day, and while these small changes may seem insignificant at the time, your health and body will thank you in the long run.
If you want to start making some changes to your eating habits, you might like my e-book, The Refresher. It has 60+ recipes (including lower-sugar desserts) and 4 weekly meal plans designed to help you eat more plant foods and less added sugar without giving up anything you love! Learn more here.