Study shows that Starbucks holiday drinks are ho-ho-horrible for you

Photo: Starbucks

A not at all shocking new study has discovered that “festive” lattes and hot chocolates are made with utterly obscene amounts of sugar. This holiday season, it is time to face reality and stop lying to ourselves.

British nonprofit Action on Sugar commissioned the study, which surveyed the UK’s most popular coffee chains and analyzed the sugar content on their menus. Most chains were British, one was Starbucks, and one, for some reason, was KFC.

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The worst offender overall was Starbucks’ 758-calorie venti Signature Caramel Hot Chocolate with Whipped Cream, which contains 93.7 grams—or half acup—of sugar. That’s the oat milk version; make it with skim milk, and the numbers go down to 659 calories and 89.6 grams (0.45 cups) of sugar. KFC’s hot cocoa looks downright healthy in comparison, with a measly 180 calories and a bit over two tablespoons of sugar.

On the coffee side of things, Starbucks once again tops the charts with their venti Oat Milk Gingerbread Latte, which contains a quarter cup of sugar. The good news: Starbucks is not offering the Gingerbread Latte in America this year, so we’re safe from that threat. The less good news: The rest of their menu is still dessert, even if there’s coffee in it.

KFC is not offering a holiday latte, because they are not festive.

Another interesting discovery from the study was that in 2016, a venti Chai Tea Latte had 297 calories and 52 grams of sugar, and in 2019 a venti Chai Tea Latte has 355 calories and 54.5 grams of sugar. Just what has been done to this latte over the last three years?

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Starbucks’ website notes that a portion of the sugar in their drinks actually comes from the milk itself (a.k.a. lactose), so, you know, it’s not all their fault. Maybe just don’t order the venti every day.

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About the author

Allison Robicelli

Allison Robicelli is The Takeout staff writer, a former professional chef, host of The Robicelli Argument Clinic Podcast, the author of three books, and a swan meat influencer.