How to Take a Starbucks Peppermint Mocha From 440 Cals to 76
I love Christmas. I love dieting. You don’t have to love these things. I’m not saying you need to lose weight or participate in Santacon. But if you do happen to love delicious treats while also not loving the thought of drinking 440 calories in one fell swoop, well, my friend, this story is for you.
Starbucks holiday drinks are one of the best inventions of the fast food industry. There’s a flavor for everyone, they’re customizable, and they feel accessible and hoity-toity all at once. They also taste incredible.
But they have a ridiculous amount of calories, fats, and sugars. Like, a grande peppermint mocha with 2% milk — not even whole milk! — and whipped cream has 440 calories, 15 grams of fat (23% daily value), 10 grams of saturated fat (50% daily value!!!), 63 grams of carbs, and 54 grams of sugar. The only silver lining is that it contains 13 grams of protein, making it a somewhat passable after-gym snack if you can stomach all the sugar.
So yeah, a grande peppermint mocha is about equivalent to a McDonald’s double cheeseburger, plus the added sugar of a generous smearing of Nutella. But at least that would be a solid meal, you know? You could eat a double cheeseburger with Nutella and chug along for a few hours without getting hungry again. There’s no satisfaction in drinking more than a third of your recommended daily calorie intake.
So because I am obsessed with peppermint mocha lattes and healthy living, I have over the years devised a way to have my low-cal coffee drink and eat it too. And no, it’s not just ordering a skinny peppermint mocha, which clocks in at 160 calories and still contains dairy, which I try to stay away from. It’s even better than that.
I have figured out a way to replicate the taste of a peppermint mocha at Starbucks for 76 calories. Plus, it’s cheaper.
The secret is to skip the latte and order a grande coffee at five calories. Holiday Blonde Roast works best, because the flavor’s not too strong and it says “Holiday” on the label so it just adds to the whole feeling. If black coffee is too much for you, you can add almond milk — either add it yourself cold, or ask them to steam some for you to really get that latte je ne sais quoi.
An eighth of a cup of Starbucks almond milk — which is probably slightly more than you’ll add anyway — has only 8 calories, 0.5 grams of fat, and 0.5 grams of carbohydrates. It has less than one gram of sugar and protein.
Next, you’ll want to ask for one or one and a half pumps each of mocha and peppermint syrups. A standard grande latte has up to four pumps each of these syrups, totaling eight. That’s egregious in terms of both calories and sweetness.
But if you’re drinking a blonde roast with a little almond milk, all you really need is one and a half pumps, or one pump if you really don’t have a sweet tooth. For the peppermint syrup, that’s 30 calories with 8 carbs and 8 sugars. And for the mocha, that’s about 38 calories with 8 grams of fat, 9 grams of carbs, 6, grams of sugars, and 1.5 grams of protein.
Now we’re at a total of 76 calories with 8.5 grams of fat, 17.5 grams of carbohydrates, 14 grams of sugars, and 1.5 grams of protein.
Of course, this leaves out whipped cream. Starbucks whipped cream is not your average spray-can light topping. It’s the real deal. This means it’s got plenty of fat and even saturated fat. If you want to live on the edge and add it to your drink, it’ll tack 82 calories, 8 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of carbs and 1 gram of sugar to your order.
But wait, there is still one more hack that the truly diehard can employ to get their drink to be even lower-cal: sugar-free syrup.
I personally think sugar-free syrup was invented by Satan and should be avoided. It’s too good to be true, it’s made out of chemicals, and it tastes funky. But if you truly DGAF, you can replace the mocha with sugar-free mocha. This, without whipped cream, would bump your drink down to 59 calories with 8 grams of fat, 10.5 grams of carbohydrates, 8 grams of sugars, and 1.5 grams of protein.
And a funky Splenda-like aftertaste, but that’s between you and your god.
Now, there is a downside to all of this. You have to be that asshole in the Starbucks line rattling off so many drink qualifiers, the next person in line will be 90% certain you voted for Trump.
But that’s what Starbucks is all about, right? If they didn’t want you to modify their drinks, they wouldn’t let you. So just smile politely, say please, and rattle off the following: “one grande blonde roast with one and a half pumps mocha and one and a half pumps peppermint.” You can specify sugar-free mocha or steamed almond/non-fat milk if you want. You can also specify extra room for milk if you want to really pursue a latte vibe.
Okay, so there you go — that’s how you take a grande peppermint mocha from 440 cals down to 76 or even 59. It doesn’t taste exactly the same and it’s not gonna cure your hangover or soothe your PMS symptoms the way an OG peppermint mocha would, but it’s better than a plain black coffee.
You can do the same thing with any other holiday flavor — put it in coffee instead of a latte — and the cals will be even lower because they don’t include mocha. Chestnut praline, eggnog, gingerbread, anything. Subtract all the cals the mocha would have taken up, and go nuts!