Starbucks offers healthier options

As we transition from the cold days of winter to the much warmer climate of spring, the desire to sip on hot cocoa or a warm vanilla latte may fade for some. Although summer is approaching, numerous individuals continue to nourish their Starbucks fixation. For many, ordering cold, refreshing iced lattes and frappuccinos are alluring pleasures to consume.

As a Starbucks consumer, I must admit to enjoying my occasional Soy Vanilla Latte. Although I find them incredibly delicious and harmless to my milk allergy, I understand they are not very nutritious. Aside from their warm, pleasing taste and caffeinated ability to provide alertness during an early class, I see little nutritional benefit for my delicious coffee beverage.

This perception I have must be inaccurate. Every day of the week, I observe long lines of drowsy college students eagerly anticipating the crowning glory of their day. I hear students list their favorite coffee concoction effortlessly, as if they had rehearsed their lines for months before a large production. Orders such as a Double Chocolate Chip Crème Frappuccino with whip cream, extra flavored syrup and shots of espresso, all within the largest cup escape the lips of many. I am even more shocked to witness mothers who order such drinks and present it to their children, who quickly slurp their beverage as if it were a Happy Meal milkshake from McDonald’s.

It is very evident that our society, especially college culture, is addicted to Starbucks. Whether you integrate your visit to Starbucks into your daily schedule, buy gift cards for a friend or meet your professor for their weekly office hours, you may and probably are addicted to Starbucks. I am not trying to discourage individuals from cutting Starbucks out of their diet completely, but encourage you to take time to see healthier options that the company provides.

Starbucks has just recently released a pamphlet entitled, “Nutrition By The Cup” which lists healthy options in addition to nutrition information on all their products. The Starbucks at the Union has it available for consumers on the side counter above the extra sugar and milk.

In the pamphlet, Starbucks prides itself on offering up to 20,000 different drink combinations that are “customized to your own individual needs.” The company lists helpful information such as ways to customize your favorite drinks to make them healthier. One healthy hint includes “holding the whip”, which Starbucks says can save one anywhere from 80 to 130 calories and eight to 12 grams of fat. Other healthier options include using reduced-fat and skim milk, sugar-free syrup, and calorie-free sweeteners. My personal favorite alternative is using soymilk, which is vitamin and calcium enriched. Soymilk is also beneficial to those who may be allergic to milk or lactose intolerant.

“Nutrition By The Cup” also provides Starbucks consumers with 20 different beverages that are less than 200 calories. The top three hot beverages offered in the smallest size (Tall) that top the list include: Brewed Coffee, Brewed Tazo Tea and Nonfat Tazo Green Tea Latte. The top three cold beverages offered in the smallest size that are less than 200 calories include: Caramel Frappuccino Light Blended Coffee, Coffee Frappuccino Blended Coffee and Shaken Tazo Iced Passion Tea (unsweetened).

The pamphlet is a beneficial way that consumers can monitor their intake of calories, fat, sugars and calcium. I could not believe how many calories some of the drinks contain! For instance, a Venti Caffe Vanilla Frappuccino has 450 calories, 40 of which are from fat. That’s more calories than a double cheeseburger at McDonald’s. One of the beverages with the highest calories is a Venti Strawberries ‘ Crème Frappuccino that has 620 calories, 30 of which are from fat. That beverage has more calories than a McDonald’s Big Mac, which has 540 calories.

All the nutritional information for each beverage listed in the pamphlet does not include calories from whipped cream. Instead, there is a separate category that lists the options: flavored syrup, sweetened whip cream, flavored sugar-free syrup, mocha syrup, chocolate and caramel toppings. After discovering how two pumps of flavored syrup can add 40 additional calories to your beverage, you may think twice next time you are at Starbucks and decide to say no to the extra calorie intake.

One helpful resource Starbucks also lists in their pamphlet is, which is a helpful site that gives you personal information on suggested calorie intake based on your age, height, weight, and physical activity. By being aware of this beneficial information, it may also help you manage your intake of Starbucks.

I do not wish to discourage individuals and consumers from ordering beverages from Starbucks. Through education and awareness of nutritional information and one’s suggested personal diet, individuals can make more informed decisions about what they are putting into their bodies.

Send comments to Michelle Dominick at [email protected]