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Your Personal Guide to Navigating the Starbucks Menu

by Sammy Nickalls
starbucks menu

Man, what do I order? The Salted Caramel Mocha looks good…but so does the Java Chip Frappuccino.

Stop right there! It’s a trap!


That’s right. You’re sabotaging all your efforts to be nutritious and healthy with your Starbucks vice.

But it’s just coffee!

First of all, that’s debatable. But I’ll go into that later. Second of all, what would you do if I told you that your daily Starbucks vice may be causing you to consume over 400 calories before you even start the day?

That would…not be cool.

Yeah, that’s what I thought. Thus, for your personal reading pleasure, I present to you your own personal guide to navigating the Starbucks menu.

starbucks menu

Navigating the Starbucks Menu

1. Avoid the white chocolate

I’ve never been a huge coffee person, so I always get their white hot chocolate whenever my friends drag me over there. Because let me tell you, their white hot chocolate is heaven on earth. Seriously, it’s so good. But I was sad to find that a 16oz serving (sorry, Starbucks snobs—I mean grande) with 2% milk packed a whopping 410 calories, with 12 grams of fat. Unfortunately, even with nonfat milk, it was still 360 calories with 6 grams of fat…it’s just cruel…

Anyway, if you’re really feeling keen on some hot chocolate, have no fear. When you’re pondering over the Starbucks menu, just avoid everything labeled “white chocolate” in general, because in almost all cases, it’s considerably fattier.

Get yourself a classic cup of normal hot chocolate with nonfat milk. A grande (you’re welcome, ya hipsters ) is only 240 calories and 2.5 grams of fat, so still not healthy, but certainly better. And when it comes to taste, you just can’t go wrong with hot chocolate.

Related: Is Tea Better For You Than Coffee?

2. Avoid the complex drink names

I feel like someone should do an experiment on this. For some reason, in coffee places, the more words in a coffee drink name, the more dessert-like it becomes—and fattier it is. Is there a scientific reason here?

Oh, wait, I know why. Because every word means more stuff is thrown into your drink. And generally, “stuff” means sugary flavorings and heavy creams. It becomes less of a coffee and more of a melted cake. I’m actually only half joking here.

There is a drink on the menu of Starbucks that is called “Double Chocolaty Chip Frappuccino Blended Crème.” A whopping 500 calories and 98 carbs for a grande. Sweetie, that’s not coffee. That is literally a cup of dessert.

Related: 5 Healthy Food Substitutions for Fat Loss

3. Avoided “blended” drinks

Oh, speaking of the Double Chocolaty Chip Frappuccino Blended Crème, there’s an entire menu of Frappuccino Blended Beverages. What does that mean? Well, generally, these beverages are blended together with ice to make them thicker and more like a milkshake. (Again with the ordering-dessert-not-coffee thing. WHY.)

But Sammy, ice is just water, so it’s not a big deal!

You have a point. Except imagine coffee blended with ice. Unless you enjoy watered-down coffee, it’s not all too appealing. Which is why milk and cream is an important factor here. Blending your drinks tastes so delicious not because someone took a healthy drink and shook it up, but because they used a bunch of that fattening stuff to make it taste more like a milkshake.

Related: Healthy Eating 101 – The Benefits of Real Food

3. …or you could just order a black coffee and doctor it up yourself

Ever notice that your Starbucks coffee tastes so good, but when you try to replicate it at home, it just doesn’t taste the same? That’s because most (but, note to Starbucks enthusiasts, not all!) Starbucks drinks are nutritionally closer to dessert, not coffee. If you’re trying to make a Double Chocolaty Chip Caramel Frappuccino Macchiato Latte Crème or whatever it’s called at home, and it’s just not working, your mistake is in thinking that you are creating a coffee drink.

If you are willing to limit your Starbucks fix to just an occasional treat, your best bet is to buy yourself a black coffee, a tea, or even an espresso, and make it how you like. In fact, in all areas of healthy eating and drinking, making it yourself is always your best bet. This way, you know exactly what you’re consuming; you don’t have to guess.

Related: 5 Remarkable Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

The Takeaway

Starbucks, like many coffee shops, has a menu jam-packed with fattening liquid desserts masquerading as coffee. The fact of the situation is that it is best to just keep it simple. Sure, everyone has their vices, but do you want your vice to cost you 400 plus calories daily before the clock hits 9 AM?

You could try to navigate the Starbucks menu by avoiding white chocolate, avoiding those ridiculously-long drink names, and steering clear of those Frappuccino Blended Drinks that claim to be coffee. Treat those fancy Starbucks drinks just like every other eating indulgence: have them on occasion and in great moderation. Or, you could do yourself a favor and order a normal coffee. I assure you it will be “grande.” (There’s my apology joke, Starbucks enthusiasts.)


sammy nickallsSammy Nickalls is the Content Manager at She is an avid health nut and a lover of all things avocado. Follow her on Twitter or Pinterest.

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