I love so many things about fall: apples, squash, hearty soups...and Pumpkin Spice Lattes from Starbucks. I’m sure that part of the appeal is that I can only get them at this time of year. (I like to eat in-season, what can I say?)
I can’t deny that they’re simply delicious: spicy and yet oh-so-sweet—so sweet, in fact, that I knew they couldn’t be low-cal. But I had no idea how shockingly high the actual calorie count of this seasonal sip can be if you order it in its full glory. I’m not talking a 20-ounce venti, just a pedestrian grande (16 oz.) with whole milk and whipped cream. The “grande” total: 410 calories, 17 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 48 grams of sugars.
Enough to make me revise my order. Starbucks isn’t the only place where ordering without all the info can mean consuming several hundred calories more than you bargained for. Here’s a guide to more coffee drinks you might want to consider getting just once or twice a season—and skinnier sips you can guiltlessly give in to a little more often.
Skinnier Sip: Starbucks Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte
A tall (12 oz.) nonfat Pumpkin Spice Latte—skip the whip—satisfies my sweet tooth for half the damage: 200 calories, 0 g fat and 38 g sugars. If I’m feeling virtuous, I’ll ask for half the syrup to cut back on added sugars even more. (Find out why added sugars are bad for your heart.) Personally, I prefer to avoid artificial sweeteners (Do artificial sweeteners make you hungrier?) but choosing one of Starbucks’s “skinny” drinks, which are sugar-free, can save you even more. For example, a grande (16 oz.) Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte, with nonfat milk, has only 130 calories, 0 g fat and 17 g sugars—natural sugars from the milk. Speaking of milk, the good news about all these drinks is that they are an excellent source of calcium: even a 12-oz. size supplies 30 percent the Daily Value. (Find more calcium-rich milk recipes!)
At Dunkin’ Donuts
Once-in-a-while treat: Caramel Apple Latte
Given its high calorie count, it’s best to go for a Caramel Apple Latte only occasionally. Medium (16 oz.) = 340 calories, 9 g fat, 49 g sugars
Skinnier Sip: Dunkin’ Donuts Vanilla Latte Lite*
It may not feel as “fall-like” but it probably will satisfy your craving for a sweet creamy drink. Sweetening with Splenda instead of sugar keeps its calorie and sugars counts low.
Medium (16 oz.) = 130 calories, 0 g fat, 15 g sugars
*If you prefer to avoid artificial sweeteners, a small latte with sugar is a good choice: 170 calories, 6 grams of fat, 27 g sugars.
At Caribou Coffee
Once-in-a-while treat: Turtle Mocha
If the Snickers bits studding the whipped cream on this decadent chocolate/caramel drink don’t tip you off that it is a high-calorie “dessert,” let the nutrition information prove it.
Medium (14 oz.) with 2% milk and whipped cream = 640 calories, 35 g fat, 73 g sugars
Skinnier Sip: Northern Lite Turtle Latte
This drink is sweetened with sugar-free caramel and chocolate syrup. Picking skim milk and skipping the whipped cream brings the calories down even lower.
Medium (17 oz.) with skim milk, no whipped cream = 130 calories, 1 g fat, 18 g sugars
*Not into sugar-free syrups? Try a coffee with steamed skim milk (45 calories). Even if you add a packet or two of sugar, you’ll still come in under 100 calories.
At Peet’s Coffee & Tea
Once-in-a-while treat: Caffé Mocha
Espresso plus chocolate with milk is creamy and delicious, but a little costly on the calorie front.
Medium (16 oz.) with whole milk and whipped cream = 448 calories, 25 g fat, 37 g sugars
Skinnier Sip: Caffé Mocha with Sugar-Free Chocolate*
Again, choosing nonfat milk, skipping the topping and opting for a sugar-free version more than cuts the calories in half.
Medium (16 oz.) with nonfat milk and no whipped cream = 195 calories, 0 g fat, 20 g sugars
*Prefer to avoid artificial sweeteners? Try an iced mocha—cold drinks generally have fewer calories (because of the ice). Medium (16 oz.) with nonfat milk and no whipped cream = 191 calories, 1 g fat, 32 g sugars
Related link: Save yourself some bucks—make this delicious Greek Iced Coffee at home!
At Au Bon Pain
Once-in-a-while treat: Caramel Macchiato
Espresso, steamed milk and “plenty of Sweet Caramel ‘dots.’”
Medium (16 oz.), made with whole milk = 430 calories, 12 g fat, 65 g sugars
Skinnier Sip: Cappuccino
This drink comes in with reasonable nutrition stats, even though it’s made with whole milk. You could even add a packet of sugar if you want a little sweetness.
Medium (16 oz.) = 150 calories, 8 g fat, 13 g sugars