We're looking at you, Zombie Frappuccino.
Starbucks used to be an occasional treat for me—that is, until college, when it became a daily requirement. And because I’m #basic, I wouldn’t order just a normal cup of coffee—I was that person in line who would instead splurge on seasonal blended and espresso drinks that really started to rack up on sugar (and $$$). That’s when I started paying attention (out of necessity) at what I was actually ordering on a regular basis... and some of those numbers were shocking, to say the least. When it comes to ordering at Starbucks for kids, there are two schools of thought here: If you don’t purchase Starbucks frequently and are looking to treat your kiddo, let them get what they want. On the other hand, if you’re looking to keep your kids away from sugar and caffeine bombs, here are five popular drinks you may want to steer them away from.
This is a hard one because it’s so obviously designed with kids in mind. Colorful, Instagram worthy—there’s fake pink brains for crying out loud—what kid wouldn’t want their hands on this? Here’s the deal though: A Tall 12-oz serving of this Halloween concoction (the smallest size) comes in at 35g of sugar. For some perspective, that comes in close to shoveling 9 teaspoons of straight sugar into your mouth. A whole, regular-size Snickers bar comes in 8g (about two teaspoons) less than this beverage.
Java Chip Frappuccino
With a super chocolaty base, chocolate flavored chips, and an enticing chocolate syrup drizzle on the top, you can see why a picture of this on the menu would have kids obsessed. Here’s the thing: If you don’t want you kid caffeinated (or if it’s too close to bedtime), you may want to stay away from this one—the smallest size comes with about 75mg of caffeine, the equivalent of guzzling two cans of Coke, plus some. Our suggestion: The Double Chocolaty Chip Crème Frappuccino (while still sugar-heavy) is an almost identical, caffeine-free alternative.
Pumpkin Spice Latte
Sorry PSL fanatics, but if you don’t want your kid hopped up on a double whammy of 39g of sugar and 75mg of caffeine, you may want to encourage them to pick out something else from the menu. That fall flavor is so enticing though, we understand, so our suggestion: Maybe split a pumpkin-flavored pastry if you’re keen on that seasonal pie spice (that’s also a little easier to portion control).
Watch: How to Make a Copycat Starbucks Turmeric Latte
Vanilla Bean Crème Frappuccino
A favorite of kids everywhere, this drink is more milkshake than anything else. There’s no caffeine here, but if you’re trying to prevent a sugar rush before dinner or bedtime, step away. The smallest size has a whopping 41g. For perspective, the FDA recommends a max of 25g of sugar per day for women and 38g for men. That’s a lot to take in just one drink. Our suggestion: Get the Vanilla Crème that comes in a more kid-friendly “Short” size at 8oz. This clocks in at a more reasonable 19g of sugar.
Iced Caramel Macchiato
The sweetness and creaminess of this drink is deceptive, because it masks the whole espresso shot that tops it off, adding 75mg of caffeine. While not as heavy on the sugar as the other drinks on the list, this is a definite no if you’re not keen on having a caffeinated kid bouncing off the walls. At this point, maybe consider a classic hot chocolate if you’re looking for a sweet-tooth fix.