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The Starbucks fan-favorite seasonal Pumpkin Spice Latte (aka PSL) first debuted in 2003. That "pumpkin" drink with more sugar than pumpkin is back on the menu at Starbucks this week, but you can do better.
How many calories are in a pumpkin spice latte
A grande (16 oz.) hot Pumpkin Spice Latte made with 2 percent milk has 390 calories—even more than a Starbucks Chocolate Croissant (300), Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin (350), or Cinnamon Coffee Cake (330).
But only about half of the Pumpkin Spice Latte's 390 calories come from the milk and espresso you'd get in a regular latte (190 calories). The rest comes from pumpkin spice sauce—with more sugar and condensed milk than actual pumpkin purée—and whipped cream.
How much sugar is in a pumpkin spice latte
All told, the grande PSL has 50 grams of sugar. Some of that sugar occurs naturally in the latte's milk. But we estimate that roughly 7½ teaspoons (32 grams) are added sugar, from the PSL's sweet pumpkin sauce and whipped cream. That's more than half the 50-gram Daily Value for added sugar.
The Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew isn't much better. A grande packs 250 calories and 31 grams of sugar—much of it added sugar. (There's not much milk...or protein.) Blame its sugary pumpkin cream cold foam plus vanilla syrup.
A taste of a PSL with far less sugar
For a taste of pumpkin spice in your coffee at home—with a fraction of the sugar—try a creamer like Silk Dairy-Free Pumpkin Spice Almond Creamer. A tablespoon adds 4 grams of sugar (1 teaspoon) and 25 calories to your cup.
In search of some real pumpkin to celebrate the impending arrival of autumn? Get cooking with fresh pumpkin or purée.
How to order lower-sugar coffee
If you couldn't care less about pumpkin or its spice, keep in mind that the best drinks mix coffee or espresso with milk, water, or ice, not sugary syrups, cream, or whipped cream:
Espresso, Americano, or coffee: Each has next to no calories. A packet of sugar adds 10 to 20.
Iced coffee: Go unsweetened to skip the syrup’s 5 teaspoons of sugar in a Starbucks grande.
Cappuccino, misto, or latte: A regular cappuccino (espresso plus foamed milk) or misto (coffee with steamed milk) has a nice dose of protein and calcium with no added sugar. Ditto for a regular latte (which has more milk, calcium, protein, and calories).