We all know what our go-to Starbucks drinks are. We look forward to the iconic taste of an iced Caramel Macchiato or a PSL. We wake up and instantly need our "coffee." But could satisfying your Starbs cravings be hurting more than your bank account?

Many Starbucks beverages come with standardized amounts of flavor syrups or sauces. Typically, a grande latte or espresso drink comes with four pumps of syrup or sauce.

Tall drinks come with three, venti hot drinks come with five, venti iced drinks come with six (the Caramel Macchiato is the only exception to this rule, but it makes up for one less pump with the addition of caramel drizzle). Four pumps may not seem like a lot, but when you look at the calories and sugar levels in each single pump, it's kind of nauseating.

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Kayla Jimenez

Take the Caramel Macchiato, for example. The barista starts by pumping three pumps of vanilla syrup into the bottom of the cup. Once the milk and espresso is added, caramel sauce is drizzled on top. That's syrup AND sauce. In one drink!

According to Starbucks' website, a grande Caramel Macchiato contains 34 grams of sugar—if the barista is conservative while adding that caramel drizzle (which we all know is the best part and half the people we know ask for extra caramel drizzle, tbh).

Maybe you're thinking you'll just order more Pumpkin Spice Lattes instead. Welp, that won't work; a grande PSL contains 48 grams of sugar, and that's without the whipped cream.

Kayla Jimenez

Remember a few years back when people started hating on soda because of its adverse health affects? Those disturbing pictures of Ziplock bags containing the amount of sugar "hidden" in a single can of soda were everywhere—at school, on the internet. I even saw one in my dorm last year.

I'm sure your elementary school lunch aid or a classmate at the middle school science fair shook a plastic baggy full of sugar in your face to scare you away from drinking Coke. Well, news flash! A typical can of soda contains 39 grams of sugar, only five more grams than the beloved Caramel Macchiato, and ten grams less than are in the PSL.

I don't need to go into detail about the negative affects of consuming exorbitant amounts of sugar, but I'll name a few. Consuming a lot of sugar increases the likeliness you'll develop cavities, rot your teeth, become diabetic, raise your blood pressure, gain weight...The list goes on and on. And no, ordering nonfat milk does not help you one bit.

Coca Cola can

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In 2014, the World Health organization recommended getting less than 10%–ideally, the organization suggested getting only 5%–of one's daily caloric intake from sugar. For the average adult, that means around 25 grams of sugar a day. If you order a grande Caramel Macchiato, that's pushing it. Now imagine a venti.

Have you ever watched someone adding sugar and cream to their coffee and given them the side eye when they put more than four sugar packets in their cup? A standard sugar packet contains four grams of sugar. So your Caramel Macchiato contains around eight or more packets of sugar. Time to rethink that side eye.

Before working at Starbucks, I'd order caramel iced coffees, Salted Caramel Mochas, and iced Caramel Macchiatos without even blinking an eye. They taste good–what more could there be to it?

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Kayla Jimenez
Once I began to learn the recipes, it shocked me how many pumps of flavor are in Starbucks beverages. It occurred to me I rarely drank a latte or an iced coffee without having four, five, or six pumps of flavored syrup or sauce added to it. Did I even know what coffee tasted like? Not in the slightest.

I started to customize my drinks by putting less pumps in, and the results changed my coffee consumption habits. Coffee and espresso tastes nothing like caramel, mocha, or pumpkin, but rather possesses a unique, robust flavor.

I got used to the taste of coffee and espresso and learned to enjoy it without tainting it with sugary syrups. Rather, I learned that in the case of coffee and espresso, less is more. One or two pumps of your favorite flavors can complement the taste of the coffee and make for a delicious drink, without all the sugar.


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My personal favorite is a venti iced Americano with one pump of white chocolate. White chocolate sauce contains condensed milk as well as sugar, so you don't even need sweetener, milk, or creamer. This drink is sweet, creamy, and maintains the flavor and texture of espresso, while still being low calorie and low in sugar. Can it get any better? Yes; Americanos contain the most amount of espresso for the cheapest price. They are cheaper than lattes, and just as delicious.

So, I hope you will reconsider your order at Starbucks, knowing how much sugar a single sweetened iced coffee, flavored latte or macchiato contains (more than a can of soda!). Coffee and espresso taste good without adding thirty plus grams of sugar, and you will be better off in the long run if you change your order.