How To Drink At Starbucks Without Getting Fat

Twenty years ago, the idea that someone would get a good chunk of their daily calories from a coffee-based beverage would have seemed odd. But these days, a lot of people get not just their caffeine fix — but also their sugar and whipped cream fixes — from high-calorie beverages at Starbucks.

The folks at have come up with some tips for getting in and out of the java joint without busting a button on your pants.

Among the tips are the more obvious:
*Just order a regular coffee.
*Order a short (8 oz.). It’s not on the menu, but it’s available for almost every Starbucks beverage.
*Go with skim or 1% milk.

Then they list some beverages that aren’t necessarily going to enlarge your waistline:
*A classic Cappucino is only 90 calories when made with 2% milk.
*Shaken iced teas don’t include sugar. Even if you add a bit of lemonade and sugar, you can get away with 100 calories for one.

And then there are the drinks to avoid if you’re trying to trim down:
* The iced peppermint white chocolate mocha. 420 calories for just a tall (if made with 2% milk and whipped cream).
* The strawberries and cream Frappuccino. 360 calories for the tall (if made with 2% milk and whipped cream).
* White hot chocolate. 380 calories and 15 g of fat for the tall (if made with 2% milk and whipped cream).

How to Visit Starbucks Without Blowing Your Diet []


Edit Your Comment

  1. El_Fez says:

    Expensive AND fattening! They just need “additive” to get the Bad For You hat trick!

  2. jason in boston says:

    How about this – your intake of calories for a day has to be less than your expand during the day. If they are out of balance then you will either gain or lose weight.

    When I was active duty, we literally ate plateful of eggs, steak, potatoes, whatever. We still lost weight. Now that I am an office bitch, I cut down on calories because I don’t do any physical activity during the 9-5. I can’t have the Frappuccino that is heaven in a cup because I’ll become a fatty.

    If do “real work” (labor), then the Mocha will be just fine. It all depends if you burn off those calories.

  3. Portlandia says:

    Where’s the “Tastes Burnt” tag for the article?

    • haggis for the soul says:

      Amen. I don’t get the idea that burning coffee somehow makes it taste better. Stronger taste does not equal stronger/better coffee. And doesn’t roasting coffee more actually produce a product with less caffeine?

  4. AllanG54 says:

    To hell with Starbucks, make your coffee at home, put the $3 that you would spend everyday towards retirement. You’ll end up with quite a nice nest egg.

    • Dallas_shopper says:

      This FTW. +1.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      If only that was really feasible for most people. I can’t make coffee at home and take it on public transportation, and I don’t make coffee at work because there’s a communal coffee fund and you don’t have to participate, but everyone does because it’s a lot cheaper. I wouldn’t make coffee in my cubicle if it meant that people would stop contributing to the office coffee fund (cause I wouldn’t charge). Some people can be petty and you never know who might be offended by something as simple as someone wanting to make their own coffee.

      • AllanG54 says:

        Is it too hard to drink your coffee before you leave the house? Just wondering, because I’ve been doing that for about two score years.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          Yes, it is too hard. I get up really early as it is and I take my time when I drink coffee.

      • Tongsy says:

        Solution: Stop giving a crap what other people think

      • magus_melchior says:

        You could cold-brew a batch of coffee concentrate on the weekend (it takes about 12-13 hours, but you mix coffee and water and stash it in the fridge). That way, you take some of the stuff to work and heat it with hot water from the cooler or the microwave. Voila, no Starbucks involved, unless you buy their beans.

        The down side is, if you enjoy the acidic bite of many hot brews, you’re not going to get that with cold brewing. Try it once and see if you can go with it (and you don’t need a fancy brewing rig, all you need are two jars and a filter cone).

        Another alternative is getting a drip machine with a timer, and grind your own beans the night before. It’s a bit more of an investment, but cheaper than daily trips to Starbucks in the long run.
        (The first link is the general recipe; the second has the info for a rather “ghetto” brewing rig and directions for a hot cup of joe.)

      • Mish says:

        So…you’re saying you can’t brew a cup of coffee at home and throw it in a travel mug?

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          The official rule is that beverages aren’t allowed on the transit system, but people do it anyway. I would do it, except carrying a travel mug is really just asking to get hot coffee all over my clothes with the first jostle of the train. I have yet to have a travel mug that doesn’t leak in some way, and I’d rather not show up to work with coffee stains. I’ve tried bringing a thermos of coffee, but it takes significantly more effort to carry a thermos of coffee because it doesn’t fit into my lunchbag and it would flop over in my purse.

          • syzygy says:

            Two words: Contigo Mug.

            I use the insulated version for hot liquids, and the clear plastic version for water. Neither has ever leaked.

        • mythago says:

          Some of us only have two hands, which are used for carrying other items to work and, in the case of some public transit, hanging on.

      • mandy_Reeves says:

        buy a pack of starbucks via ready brew packs…you throw it in hot water, add lightner and sweetner and you are good to go.

    • Bativac says:

      Man this is so true. I used to buy a cup of Starbucks terrible coffee at work every day, because it was convenient. It was only $2, but that works out to almost fifty bucks a month (on a 6 day workweek). Plus I’d grab a bagel or muffin or something, adding another two or three bucks a day.

      I started getting up 15 minutes earlier, bought a $12 4 cup coffeemaker with a timer, and now I have delicious coffee AND a homemade breakfast to take into work with me. Plus I’m saving, net, around $100 a month.

    • Michaela says:

      I wish I could do that. However, I am required to purchase a 2k dining plan every year at my university. If I do not use the money within the year, it is not returned to me. Therefore, Starbucks (and other coffee shops on campus) help me drain my dining dollars.

    • You hate your job but you're still working there? says:

      Brewing at home is such a cliche frugality tip. It’s so easy to be judgmental about what others do with their money and act like it’s a waste to pick up a cup from Starbucks. What if my apartment is bare, I have a modest car and a nice salary and I’m tucking away money towards a 401k, but my daily indulgence to reward my otherwise steadfast self-discipline is to enjoy having someone /else/ prepare my morning coffee with all the trimmings? Take it from someone who spends all freakin’ day trying to get people to adhere to budgets- it’s idealistic to have a shoestring list of expenses where you’re piling money into a rainy day fund because you brush your teeth with baking soda and pack a lunch that you brew at home, but it’s more satisfying to have a budget that cuts costs on things you don’t care about and lets you spend your hard-earned money enjoying life in a way that is meaningful to you (whether that’s eating out, buying shoes, traveling, or saving for retirement).

      Now let’s get back to talking about fatties who love whipped cream but don’t exercise enough to justify their caloric intake.

  5. JordanC says:

    Make your own coffee, eat better, it’s candy not coffee, blah blah blah. Yeah people, we get it. Sometimes it’s still nice to treat yourself every once in a while and Starbucks offers some delicious drinks that are nice to have every once in a while.

    So for that matter, even frappacinos can be made to have a modest 100-150 calories if you just get the “lite” version, and they’re still just as delicious as ever. You don’t need to get the smallest one available, either.

    • Jesse says:

      I’m all for people switching to regular coffee. When I buy coffee (black) at the drive through, I’m always stuck in line behind people getting their iced moca frappalate whatchamacallits which take forever to prepare.

  6. Alvis says:

    Eww… milk in coffee?

    Size of coffee doesn’t matter – it’s fat-free.

    • There's room to move as a fry cook says:

      I don’t get it either – esp. the double-double (double milk-double sugar) orders. Coffee just needs a splash of milk if anything. It needs sugar like a tequila shot needs lime and salt. Man up.

      • Snowblind says:

        Most coffees will benefit from a bit of fat to cut the acid and carry the flavor.

        I use half-half or even cream. Just a splash will do you…

        • watch me boogie says:

          Not to mention helping to minimize the burning of holes in my stomach.

          Ah, for my black coffee-drinking youth… now it’s half-and-half or cream, please.

          Sugar, however, is for tea. Never coffee.

      • magus_melchior says:

        Well, it’s kind of like being an avid tea drinker watching tapioca milk teas and Thai iced teas explode in popularity, or beer aficionados watching masses of people drink Budweiser.

        Americans love fatty/sweet stuff, and few are as adventurous as to try something complex and bitter.

    • colorisnteverything says:

      I prefer it to cream any day. I guess that is what spending time in England does to you. I was so used to having just a little bit of milk in my coffee.

      At this point, I am a black coffee or nothing drinker if it is during the work day. If I want to sit quietly and read a book, I use my espresso moka pot to make something like a cappuccino or mocha. I like mine pretty bitter, so I actually am adding very little calories. Probably around 150 calories per big ‘ol cup. Way better than the calorie laden syrups at Bucks. I prefer to actually TASTE the coffee.

    • parv says:

      Hey, thanks for saving me from stating the same.

      I used to drink coffee with milk & sugar. I stopped adding milk for I did not, and do not, care for aftertaste of milk (say, when a sink is not nearby or water bottle is not handy). And once I tasted sweetness in black coffee, I stopped using sugar too, probably at the same time.

      I have to admit that occasionally I add a teaspoon of brown sugar, the molasses kind not the unbleached one.

  7. pz says:

    That’s why every time I go to a coffee shop (not necessarily Starbucks), I get my drink fat-free and sugar-free. Hell, I’m not even a health-nut — I just think it’s silly for a latte that’s nothing but frothy milk and coffee to be loaded with fat and sugar.

    • colorisnteverything says:

      Sugar Free isn’t necessarily better if you eat things with sweeteners in them often. Your body will eventually process aspertame, etc. the same as sugar, so you really aren’t necessarily helping yourself.

      Fat free can be good, but just realize that it means less flavor. I know people who get a fat free venti something and I would be satisfied with a tall. I actually am consuming less calories with whole milk even.

  8. Big Mama Pain says:

    Rest assured that the only people that care about this advice are the ones who already know those drinks are 400 calories and aren’t drinking them to begin with or don’t care….surely Miss Fatty clutching her large Frappuccino with extra mocha and whip cream knows it’s not making her any less fat.

  9. denros says:

    If I’m at *bucks (not often) and decide to get something, it’s either a double espresso (it’s gotten a lot better in the past year or so) for 10 cals, or if I’m feel like splurging, a doppio con panna for a whopping 35 cals.

  10. mikeP says:

    The problem with ordering a tiny one is the price. The scheme usually goes something like this:
    small (12 oz) = 3.50
    (16 oz) = 3.70
    (24 oz) = 3.95

    8 oz short = 3.30

    Who the heck wants to pay 7% less money to get 50% less beverage?

    • sixsevenco says:

      What really matters to me is the number of espresso shots, not the volume. (I don’t go to starbucks that often, so someone please correct me if I’m wrong.) I believe a small latte only has one shot. I either order a medium or a small double-shot to make sure I get the correct amount of caffene.

  11. MercuryPDX says:

    Something I didn’t know until recently: Their iced coffees usually get a pump or two (depending on size) of Classic Syrup to sweeten it to the tune of 70 calories per pump. Their website incorrectly shows that there are no calories in their iced coffee. Unless you say “No classic”, you’re getting it.

    • Peacock (Now In Extra Crispy) says:

      AFAIK, an iced coffee is coffee and ice cubes. At least when I’ve ordered at Sbux, that’s what shows up in my cup. I add non-fat milk and/or sweetener after I’ve already received my drink at the bar. Or not, depending on my mood that day.

      Never gotten a pump of syrup. Flavored coffee is an abomination in the eyes of the Lord. Of course, YMMV.

      • MercuryPDX says:

        It’s not a flavor like Vanilla or Hazelnut, it’s simple sugar.

        Next time you order, ask the barista.

    • kimmie says:

      I ask for them to sub in sugar free vanilla. Easy :)

  12. chancyrendezvous says:

    If you’re not a coffee fan, you can always go with an Italian soda with sugar-free syrup.

  13. huygensbyer says:

    Here’s the best tip of all – make your own. I have one cup of coffee per day with one serving of flavored non-dairy liquid creamer. In total, about 45 calories. I save money and my hips.

  14. Quake 'n' Shake says:

    Starbucks should change the name of the “short” to “kiddie.” I wonder how many people would still order one then?

  15. shawnamuffin says:

    I get the Americano and add a tiny amount of half n half. It has fewer calories than a latte but is almost as satisfying and as non-acidic. Also, it tastes fresher and smoother than their drip coffee.

    Bonus, it’s one of the most affordable espresso drink on the menu.

    • sixsevenco says:

      I guess I’m not the only one! :) I just missed your post, otherwise I would have replied to your comment.

  16. sixsevenco says:

    Am I the only one that orders americano’s?

    I love how they have fancy names like ‘frappuccio’. It’s basically a milkshake. I doubt starbucks (or any coffee shop for that matter) would sell nearly as many if they called it that. Cleaver marketing.

    • TacomaRogue says:

      I’m all about the Americano as well. I usually add a few extra shots and have them skimp on the water because I like it bitter. My first coffee was a single shot grande Americano from Starbucks when I was 7 and I’ve been steadily drinking them (and adding shots) since then.

      Side note: I’m shocked they didn’t mention avoiding the food case. Their scones are like crack but horrible for the waistline and wallet. Oh, and I don’t even want to know how many calories their Cranberry Bliss Bars pack.

    • FredKlein says:

      I love how they have fancy names like ‘americano’. It’s basically watered-down espresso. I doubt starbucks (or any coffee shop for that matter) would sell nearly as many if they called it that. Clever marketing.

      • sixsevenco says:

        Meh. Not a very effective example of word play.

        You’re right, an Americano is watered down espresso, but I’m not sure what your point is. The article is about not getting fat from drinking Starbucks. Are you saying that watered down espresso is fattening? Or are you ticked that I pointed out that a frappucino is?

        Do you think people are more likely to buy a milkshake or a frappucino on a daily basis?

  17. Jevia says:

    Do they really have all 4 types of milk at Starbucks? I’m just curious since most restaurants that I’ve been too carry at most 2 types (whole or skim, not low-fat), and many times, just 1 (either whole or 2%, but not both and nothing else).

    • katstermonster says:

      Not all four types (by that I assume you mean skim, 1%, 2%, and whole), but they do have whole, 2%, skim, and soy…though that costs extra.

  18. mandy_Reeves says:

    pumpkin spice latte with skim no whip is a good treat too. Also, cinnamon dolce skinny, pretty much any frappe with the exeption of the strawberries creme one or chocolate…

    • tofupuppy says:

      Aaah it’s almost Pumpkin Spice season! It’s the only time of year I’ll throw away my money on Starbucks.

      The rest of the time it’s home-brewed (or office-brewed, and yes we are anal about cleaning the pots, getting quality beans, and brewing fresh batches), no sugar, literal “splash” of soy. Comes in at about 25cal/cup.

  19. CountryJustice says:

    My Starbucks order, every time (size varies depending on my mood):

    Iced Mocha
    Sugar Free
    No whip
    Extra shot

    I can usually count on a stomach ache by the time I’m done, but at least I be sure it’s not from calorie overload. :)

    • Michaela says:

      I also order only one thing.

      Venti black coffee.

      Maybe in the winter I will spice it up and get some sugar free syrup, but I value my time more than the complexity of my drink.

  20. .b.e.x. says:

    Interesting … as I’m stuffing my face with a piece of pumpkin bread from Starbucks. After eating a sandwich from Starbucks. Good thing I like my Starbucks coffee black!

  21. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    I don’t eat candy, cookies, cake, pie, chips, or even ice cream. I think a once a week Tall frappuccino isn’t something to obsess over. This is why it’s called a treat. It’s something yummy that you enjoy occasionally.

    • haggis for the soul says:

      This is the thing. Things that used to be considered occasional treats like cakes and fast food and soda and 400-calorie cups of coffee have become daily requirements for a lot of people.

  22. anduin says:

    Its pretty easy, just say no whip cream to anything that has whip cream and you’ll be fine. It cuts out like 30%+ calories of the drink depending on the size and it can be your one guilty pleasure of the day while keeping you energized.

  23. BytheSea says:

    They have a dolce latte and a similar one that’s something like cinnamon or caramel, I forget. If you ask for skim milk, they’re tasty and v low cal.

  24. GinaLouise says:

    Here here. I visit Starbucks about once a month, but when I do, I order a large white chocolate mocha with extra whipped cream, sugar, etc. I hate coffee but I need the caffeine during long drives, and that concoction keeps me wired all day. As long as you’re not sucking it down daily, there’s nothing wrong with the mega-unhealthy drinks.

  25. meechybee says:

    Oh, please. Is there a person who hasn’t read this story out there — it’s so overdone.

    For the record, there are many, many more caloric coffee drinks out there — not just Starbucks. Dunkin Donuts is doing their fare share and every rest stop in the country has one of those whipped cappuccino machines. The only reason Starbucks gets picked on is because their calorie information is very easy to find.

    People watching their waistline know to avoid the fattening drinks. There are, in fact, many, many low-calorie drinks at Starbucks and the company does a great job of making nutritional information readily available in their stores. It’s insanely easy to have them skip the sweeteners or order with non-fat milk and/or sugar-free syrups. Starbucks has also made great strides in introducing food, snacks, and fresh fruits — all under 250 calories apiece.

    What’s next, a story about how pizza and donuts can make you fat?

  26. Jenna! says:

    The iced tea lemonades still have sugar in them. Iced tea lemonades, iced tea, iced coffee and the hot tea lattes come with the classic sweetner in them. I believe it’s 40 calories a pump, starting at two pumps for a tall. I substitute Splenda or Equal instead.

    As well, there aren’t short cups for iced drinks, so tall is the smallest size.