Because you love caffeine, you probably never realized what you were drinking. You have the power to modify your own beverage, even to make it healthier. But there's no need to stress about it! Sit back and relax, because baristas got you covered. Here are some tips from local baristas on how to avoid a sugary, high calorie, and high fat beverage with a few modifications.  

ice, tea, espresso, coffee
Kelsey Emery

Baristas are well-trained coffee gurus, therefore they should know all the recipes like the back of their hand. They're also aware of the different products in the bar, which means they know all the alternatives in making a not-so-healthy drink healthier. On top of this, baristas are always trying new concoctions, and they've probably taste-tested their menu in the past, and know what tastes good with what.

I have been a barista for about three years now at several places such as Nordstrom, Whole Foods Market, and Starbucks. From my experience, I've witnessed and created some of the craziest, and some of the unhealthiest beverages. I understand that some customers like to feel unique by putting their own spin on certain beverages. Little do they know, these additives such as sugary syrups and powder can result in a super high calorie beverage full of fat, sugar, and even salt.

Kristiana Rufo


One of the craziest, unhealthiest drink orders was when I had worked at Nordstrom. At Nordstrom, they call their frappe drinks "Ice Storms." The one that I found the least nutritious was the Mocha Cookies n' Cream Ice Storm. It was delicious, but you could barely taste any of the coffee! This drink was mixed with java powder, chocolate syrup, crushed Oreos and milk. A tall (12oz) has 618 calories, a grande (16oz) has 877 calories, and an enorme (24oz) has up to 1137 calories without whipped cream! And that's not all, I would have regular crazy coffee-customizers who would add to the recipe by adding chocolate chips, caramel, and extra powder.

Kristiana Rufo

Whole Foods Market

I reached out to one of my old co-workers at Whole Foods Market and asked what absurd, non-nutritious drink they had recently made. Even though WFM is notorious for being "America's healthiest grocery store," not all their products are good for you. At WFM, they call their frappe beverages, "Icy Blends," and it is still one of the most popular beverages there. My coworker had told me that every day there was of course one of those crazy coffee customizers, who would order a large (24 oz) Icy Blend Mocha, with five extra pumps of mocha for a total of nine pumps, four pumps of liquid sugar, extra frappe powder, skim milk, five shots of espresso, whipped cream, and a chocolate drizzle inside of the cup and on top. Little did she know, this drink was around 675 calories, which is basically equivalent to one meal. 

Kristiana Rufo


I had also visited my local Starbucks and asked two of the baristas about some of the high-calorie beverages that they had made for customers. One of them had explained that a customer turned a plain, unsweetened green tea lemonade, into a sugar-sweetened beverage by ordering a trenta (31 oz) green tea lemonade with 36 pumps of peach and no ice, which is almost about 990 calories. Another barista had explained an instance where a customer would order 16 packets of equal with their cup of coffee. I had also asked one of the baristas what happens when a customer orders a drink that you know you would never drink because it was either high in fat, calories, or sugar. She responded with, "A part of good customer service is allowing anything that the customer wants. If they ask for my opinion, I'll suggest alternatives."

Local Shops

Lastly, I visited a local coffee shop in Montclair, New Jersey, called Java Love Coffee Roasting Company, where they have familiar coffee options and other artisanal beverages that their baristas have made themselves. I asked one of the baristas what they think when they hear an absurdly unhealthy drink order and how he could shed a few calories off of it. 

Kristiana Rufo

He responded with, "To be honest, once people start getting comfortable here, they find new ways to customize their own beverage, and I make anything they would like. If they want my opinion, I'll be honest if the ingredients pair well together since I've tried my own products."

I also asked what kind of alternatives they have if someone was interested in what was in their beverage. He replied with, "Some alternatives we provide are things such as almond, soy, and coconut milk, and as for sugar, I would suggest honey, agave, or maple syrup instead."

As baristas, we are not allowed to tell the customer what they can and cannot have. We will make anything the customer's heart desires. Most customers know what they want right from the get-go, but if you are concerned about the nutritional content of your beverage, you can ask your barista for their opinion on how you could adjust your beverage with your preference. They can even help you find another beverage that would be able to satisfy your taste buds! After all, they are coffee gurus that you can depend on for your caffeine fix.

#SpoonTip: For you coffee lovers and baristas out there, check out these articles that are steamin' hot!