How much sugar is in a pumpkin spice latte?

The “pumpkin” drink with more sugar than pumpkin is back on the menu at Starbucks. You can do better.

The Starbucks fan-favorite seasonal Pumpkin Spice Latte first debuted in 2003. How sugary is it? Plenty.

A grande (16 oz.) hot Pumpkin Spice Latte made with 2 percent milk has 380 calories—more than a Starbucks Chocolate Croissant (340).

But only about half of the Pumpkin Spice Latte’s 380 calories come from the milk and espresso you’d get in a regular latte (190 calories). The rest comes from pumpkin spice syrup—with more sugar and condensed milk than actual pumpkin purée—and whipped cream.

All told, the PSL has 50 grams of sugar. Some of that sugar occurs naturally in the latte’s milk. But we estimate that about 7 teaspoons (29 grams) are added sugar, from the PSL’s syrup and whipped cream. That’s more than half the 50-gram Daily Value. (Heads up: an expert panel recently recommended dropping that limit to just 30 grams a day.)

The Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew, with 250 calories and an estimated 6 teaspoons of added sugar in a grande, isn’t much better.

For a taste of pumpkin spice in your coffee at home—with a fraction of the sugar—try a lower-sugar creamer like Califia Farms Pumpkin Spice Almondmilk Creamer. Each tablespoon adds just 2 grams of sugar (half a teaspoon) and 15 calories to your cup.

In search of some real pumpkin to celebrate the arrival of autumn? Get cooking with fresh pumpkin or purée.

Tips for ordering lower-sugar lattes and other coffee drinks

If you couldn’t care less about pumpkin or its spice, keep in mind that the best drinks mix coffee or espresso with milk, water, or ice, not sugary syrups, cream, or whipped cream. The numbers are for Starbucks’ grande size:

  • Espresso, Americano, or coffee: Each has next to no calories. A packet of sugar adds 10 to 20.
  • Iced coffee: Go unsweetened to skip the syrup’s 5 teaspoons of sugar.
  • Cappuccino, misto, or latte: A cappuccino’s espresso plus foamed nonfat milk means just 80 calories and a nice dose of calcium (255 milligrams) and protein (8 grams). It’s about the same as a nonfat misto (coffee with steamed milk). A nonfat latte has more milk, calcium (450 mg), protein (13 grams), and calories (130). 
  • Skip the whip: It adds around 70 calories of cream and sugar.
Photos (top to bottom): Starbucks, fahrwasser/

The information in this post first appeared in the October 2019 issue of Nutrition Action Healthletter. Nutrition Action doesn’t accept any paid advertising or corporate or government donations. Any products recommended by Nutrition Action have been vetted by our staff and are not advertisements by the manufacturers.

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