LIFESTYLE
20/09/2018 13:24 BST

Drinking One Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte Exceeds Your Daily Sugar Allowance

We looked at the sugar content in Costa and Starbucks' autumn drinks ranges.

For some, a pumpkin latte is the sign that autumn has arrived. A delicious treat to sweeten the lengthening evenings and darker mornings. But your favourite seasonal drink might contain startling amounts of sugar. 

HuffPost UK headed out to sample autumn seasonal drinks from the country’s most popular coffee chains, Costa and Starbucks – only to find that some contained up to 13 teaspoons of sugar (and that’s without ordering any giant drinks).

We looked at Costa’s latest offerings from its Bonfire-Spiced range, of which there are three drinks - a latte, a hot chocolate and coldbrew - as well as seven beverages from Starbucks’ extensive autumn range which includes flavoured coffee and tea lattes, and frappuccinos.

HuffPost UK

Of 10 autumn drinks launched by the chains, four contain more than an adult’s recommended daily sugar allowance (30g,) according to nutritional information provided by the stores. For our comparison we considered Starbucks’ tall- and Costa’s primo-size drinks, which are the closest in size. (You can see them next to each other in the picture above). One of Starbucks’ drinks, the Cordusio, is only served as a ‘short’.

When it comes to sugar content, Starbucks – which also has the most offerings in terms of seasonal drinks – sells the worst offenders. Its pumpkin spice coffee frappuccino contains an incredible 52.6g of sugar per portion, which is equivalent to 13 teaspoons, while a maple coffee frappuccino has 38g – or 9.5 teaspoons. 

By comparison, a standard coffee frappuccino of the same size contains 33.4g of sugar per serving, which is roughly eight teaspoons.

Costa’s bonfire spiced hot chocolate contains 35.7g of sugar per drink, equivalent to almost nine teaspoons – and 10g more than is contained in Costa’s regular hot chocolate.

If what you really fancy is a spiced latte, Starbuck’s traditional pumpkin spice latte contains 33g or eight teaspoons of sugar, while Costa’s bonfire spiced latte has around two teaspoons fewer with 24.9g of sugar per portion.

In addition to weight gain, excessive sugar consumption increases the risk of tooth decay, Professor Damien Walmsley, scientific adviser for the British Dental Association, told HuffPost UK.

“The Government’s expert advisers say adults and children over 11 shouldn’t consume more than 30 grams of sugar a day. It’s therefore worrying that you can exceed the maximum daily dose in just one of these drinks,” he said.

“Given the huge market share enjoyed by high street coffee chains, they ought to be leading the way in cutting the dose.”

Starbucks does, however, have some Iower sugar options on its autumn menu. The coffee shop’s Cordusio coffee comes with 7.1g of sugar, while its Nitro with maple cold foam comes with 6.7g per portion.

But if you really just want a pumpkin spice latte, Pret’s version made with semi-skimmed milk in a regular size contains 17g of sugar per portion – or a little over four teaspoons. But you won’t be able to buy it until September 25.

ttatty via Getty Images

In response to the analysis, a Starbucks spokesperson told HuffPost UK: “We remain committed to sugar reduction across our beverage offerings. This includes a 10% reduction in calories and 13% reduction in sugar in our Pumpkin Spice Latte compared to last year’s recipe.

“Customers can also choose from many ways to lower the sugar and calories in their drinks, including choosing no whipped cream or enjoying our smallest size, Short.” They added that nutritional information is always available on menu boards and the website to help customers make informed choices.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England (PHE), said: “Some sweetened coffees are too high in sugar and the industry has a key role to play in reducing the amount of sugar we buy and consume – this includes seasonal foods and drinks.

“Major coffee chains have publicly committed to reducing sugar by 20% by 2020 and we have seen some positive steps. If we are to tackle obesity, the whole industry – not just coffee shops – needs to work harder and faster.”

HuffPost UK has contacted Costa for comment and is waiting to hear back.

The results in full.

Starbucks 

What: Pumpkin spice coffee frappuccino made with semi-skimmed milk and topped with whipped cream.
Serving size: Tall.
Sugar content: 52.6g of sugar per portion, equivalent to 13 teaspoons.

What: Maple coffee frappuccino made with semi-skimmed milk and topped with whipped cream.
Serving size: Tall.
Sugar content: 38g of sugar per portion, equivalent to 9.5 teaspoons.

What: Pumpkin spice latte with semi-skimmed milk.
Serving size: Tall.
Sugar content: 33g of sugar per portion, which is 8 teaspoons.

What: Maple latte with semi-skimmed milk.
Serving size: Tall.
Sugar content: 25.7g of sugar per portion, equivalent to 6.5 teaspoons.

What: Maple rooibos tea latte with semi-skimmed milk.
Serving size: Tall.
Sugar content: 19.4g of sugar per portion, almost 5 teaspoons.

What: Cordusio made with whole milk.
Serving size: Short (one size only).
Sugar content: 7.1g of sugar per portion, equivalent to almost 2 teaspoons.

What: Nitro with maple cold foam.
Serving size: Tall.
Sugar content: 6.7g of sugar per portion, just over 1.5 teaspoons.

Data taken from here.

Costa coffee 

What: Bonfire spiced hot chocolate with semi-skimmed milk.
Serving size: Primo takeaway cup (one size only). 
Sugar content: 37.4g of sugar per portion, equivalent to just over 9 teaspoons.

What: Bonfire spiced latte with semi-skimmed milk.
Serving size: Primo takeaway cup (one size only).
Sugar content: 24.9g of sugar per portion, equivalent to 6 teaspoons. 

What: Bonfire spiced coldbrew.
Serving size: Primo takeaway cup (one size only).  
Sugar content: 15.1g of sugar per portion, equivalent to almost 4 teaspoons.

Data taken from here.