Cutting Down at Starbucks

I’m a Starbucks junkie.┬áNot because of their coffee quality or any acceptable reason like that (my palate is none too discerning), but because I like that I can pay for coffee with my phone and earn digital stars.

Caveat: as a college student trying to cut back on spending and calories, Starbucks isn’t the best choice for me. I try not to go as often anymore, but it’s difficult to avoid when my school’s campus center has a branch right int the middle (although the long lines usually make me think twice). Anyway, here’s what I do to try to save a buck and a few hundred calories.


As a coffee newbie several years ago, I broke into the Starbucks scene with their sweet, practically-not-even-coffee Frappuccino line. These drinks are more milkshake than coffee, they are cold and delicious, and they are about $5 each.

While I can take a straight espresso or black coffee once in awhile, it’s not exactly my cup of tea (actually, tea is something I prefer to drink straight most of the time). But $5 for a drink every time I went to Starbucks? Not justifiable. So I switched to caramel iced coffee with milk. With this drink I got the cut in the coffee taste I needed and saved about $2.50.


Recently I was convinced to start counting calories as a way to regulate intake. I’ll admit it, I overindulge in treats and keeping track of what I consume has been eye-opening (it’s been helping, although it doesn’t always stop me). Remember the caramel iced coffee with milk I so happily switched to? Well, each of those, although about 300 calories less than a Frappuccino, still clocks in at 120 calories (for the grande), which does take a chunk out of my daily allowance.

In order to cut down again, I had a brief flirtation with artificially sweetened Americanos, which cost the same as iced coffee. All the water added didn’t leave a lot of room for milk, which I figured was good anyway as I thought milk was the primary suspect in the calorie count. But, today I figured out I was wrong! It’s not the milk, it’s the caramel syrup they add into the iced coffee (which never really stands out, anyway). I got an unsweetened iced coffee with milk and enjoyed my 40 calorie treat (even calculating with whole milk, the total doesn’t exceed 40 calories for a grande sized drink). Going on to add a packet of artificial sweetener gets the job done just as well as a pre-sweetened ice coffee.

Anyway, that was my Starbucks evolution. I still spend way too much money on pop coffee drinks, but at least now it doesn’t make too much of a dent in my daily calorie allowance. If you need a coffee-esque drink that’ll dent (but not break) the bank, which is sweet(ish) for the less-coffee-minded palate, and which has as few calories as possible at Starbucks, consider an unsweetened iced coffee (with or without milk). If you need something a little stronger you can go the espresso route. Now just don’t get me started on the pound cakes. I’m a lost cause.