The Chain Gang

Surprise: The Vast Majority of Starbucks’s Drinks Contain ‘Excessive’ Amounts of Sugar

Caffeine rush followed by sugar crash.
Caffeine rush followed by sugar crash. Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

This is going to sound like a bad joke, but Starbucks addicts plowing through one Venti white mocha per day might consider the benefits of having a Coke — it’s cheaper, it’s still caffeinated, it tastes okay at room temp, and, at least according to health advocacy group Action on Sugar, it has almost half as much sugar. A new report tested sugary drinks at popular chains in England (including Starbucks, KFC, McDonald’s, and Pret A Manger) and found that 98 percent of them would get slapped with the government’s “red” warning label for excess sugar. Seven of the ten worst offenders are at Starbucks.

Just like the news that Chipotle burritos have approximately 1 billion calories each, the report threatens to ruin a lot of people’s days. This is probably why Starbucks says it’s actively working to reduce the sugar in these drinks by 25 percent before the end of 2020.

Since the report only tested drinks available in England, there’s actually no need for Americans to freak out about the list’s most insane sugar bomb — a Venti grape Hot Mulled Fruit with chai, orange, and cinnamon — since consuming its 99 grams (about 25 teaspoons) of sugar requires a holiday across the pond. Still, comparing nutrition facts for drinks in the U.K. and U.S. shows sugar content is practically identical (a Venti white-chocolate mocha with whip is 75 grams of sugar in America, versus 74 in Britain), plus the group only looked at hot beverages. The entire Frappuccino menu gets a pass, the only place anyone will ever find an Oprah-endorsed food item that has almost twice a day’s worth of sugar.


‘Excessive’ Sugar Found in Most Starbucks Drinks