6 Holiday Drinks Just Landed at Starbucks—Here's How to Make Them a Little Healthier
We haven't even "fallen back" yet, but many Americans have already consumed their yearly quota of pumpkin spice lattes. (This isn't just us, right?!)
Since the coffee drink with a major following has been available on the Starbucks menu for more than 2 months—it debuted on August 24 this year—some devotees of the java brand have been jonesing for a refresh. Well you need not wait any longer, as the winter holiday menu launches Thursday, November 4.
Available in one of four gift-inspired festive Starbucks holiday cups (we're already obsessed with the holiday lights one!), the holiday 2021 drink menu includes five returning favorites and one brand-new latte to love: Iced Sugar Cookie Almondmilk Latte. (The jury is still out about why "almondmilk" becomes one word at Starbucks, but we have zero questions about how delicious this sounds!)
This is the brand's first-ever non-dairy coffee holiday drink, and it features blonde espresso, sugar cookie-flavored syrup, almond milk, ice and red and green cookie sprinkles. If icy is too cool for the season, you can also ask for it hot—where it comes crowned with steamed almond milk foam and those same festive sprinkles.
"The almond flavor from the almond milk makes for a natural pairing with the nutty notes in Starbucks Blonde Espresso. We also wanted to harness the buttery and vanilla notes of the cookie, which you can pick up in the aroma from that first sip from the sugar cookie flavored syrup and sprinkles. It reminds me of making cookies with my mom and sisters growing up. It gives me all the nostalgic feels of the holiday," according to Erin Marinan, product development manager for Starbucks R&D, who led product development with fellow Starbucks employee Sara Bennett, who explained the inspiration of the buzzy bevvy to Starbucks Stories & News. (Considering my Mom's secret sugar cookie cutout ingredient was a splash of almond extract, I can relate—and can't wait to try this latte!)
The five returning seasonal sips include:
Since coffee comes packed with some serious health benefits, we don't feel one hint guilty about enjoying a homemade or on-the-go cup each day. That said, ranging from a fairly reasonable 200 calories (for the Irish Cream Cold Brew) to a meal-sized 440 calories (Peppermint Mocha) per grande 16-ounce serving, the nutrition facts on these seasonal drinks might push them out of regular-habit territory.
Our on-staff dietitians and the baristas at Starbucks do have a few tricks about how to lighten them up, whether you plan to enjoy one daily or just once this season:
- Ditch the standard dairy. The baristas use 2% milk as the default on all of the traditional mochas and lattes. Opting for nonfat milk or dairy-free almond milk, coconut milk, oat milk and soy milk can trim a few calories and grams of fat.
- Ask for fewer pumps. Cut calories and grams of sugar by choosing a sugar-free syrup. Or even better since the jury is still out about how sugar substitutes impact your gut microbiome, ask for half as many pumps for a mild yet noticeable flavor boost.
- Go without whip. For hot drinks, ask for half the usual whip or no whip to trim between 80 and 110 calories, depending on the serving size and menu item. And for iced, a dollop of unsweetened cold foam, made with nonfat milk, is a lighter way to add a creamy element.
- Size it right. A "short" clocks in at 8 ounces, or half of the "grande" size so you can satisfy your seasonal cravings for half the calories, fat and sugar.