Read this before you buy your next Starbucks

We all new that there was sugar in our coffees, but did you have any idea how much? With an estimated 1.7 billion cups of coffee sold each year in the UK from over 18,000 outlets and one in five of the population (including teenagers) visiting a coffee shop daily, campaign group Action on Sugar is today warning of the dangerously high sugar content of certain hot beverages found in many high street coffee shop chains.

This new research by Action on Sugar shows that 98% of the 131 hot flavoured drinks analysed would receive a ‘red’ (high) label for excessive levels of sugars per serving as sold.

What’s more, 35% of the hot flavoured drinks contain the same amount or more sugars than Coca Cola, which contains a massive 9 teaspoons of sugar per can – equivalent to 7 chocolate biscuits.

The worst offender is the Starbuck’s Hot Mulled Fruit – Grape with Chai, Orange and Cinnamon Venti (extra-large) – a mix of chai and fruit concentrate, topped with a cinnamon stick and a slice of orange – which contains 25 teaspoons of sugar (that’s the equivalent of sugar in 5 muffins), followed by Costa Coffee’s Chai Latte (large) with a massive 20 teaspoons of sugar. Interestingly, a Starbuck’s Hot Mulled Fruit – Grape with Chai, Orange and Cinnamon Tall (medium) has almost half the amount of sugar  than the larger sized cup (13 vs 25 tsp).

Worst offenders for each type of flavoured hot drink per serving:  

Sugars per serving (g)
Teaspoons of sugar per serving**
Hot Mulled Fruit – Grape with Chai, Orange and Cinnamon – Venti
Hot Mulled Fruit
Chai Latte – Massimo – Eat In
Chai Latte
White Chocolate Mocha with Whipped Cream – Venti
White Mocha
Signature Hot Chocolate – Venti
Hot Chocolate
Caffe Nero
Caramelatte – Drink In
Caramel Latte

* Contains some sugars (lactose) naturally occurring in the milk.

** 4 grams of sugar is equal to 1 teaspoon of sugar.


Worryingly, from the entire out-of-home hot drinks surveyed, 55% contain the equivalent, or more than, the maximum daily recommended amount of sugars for an adult and teenager (30g – 7tsp/d).

When it comes to hot drinks that are perceived to be ‘healthy’, a Starbuck’s Chai Tea Latte Venti (extra-large) contains 13 teaspoons of sugar per serving alongside Eat’s Chai Latte Big and Matcha Latte Big at 11 teaspoons.

Starbucks sells two sizes larger than a typical medium serving size of 340ml, at 454ml & 568ml – adding to the excessive sugar intake in many of its hot flavoured drinks. These serving sizes are much larger than those offered by its competitors. It is time coffee chains stopped serving extra-large cups of sugar-laden hot drinks.

Despite the negative attention that the likes of Starbucks, Costa and Caffe Nero attracted last year after reports that some of their Christmas drinks were full of fat and sugar, it’s clear that little has been done to rectify the situation and reduce sugar ladened drinks from their menus.

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