Sunday, December 3, 2023

The Truth About Sugar in Lattes

by Mads

As a coffee industry writer, people often come to me with questions about their favorite coffee drinks. One question I get a lot is, “Do lattes have sugar?” The answer is not as straightforward as one might think. In this article, I will discuss the truth about sugar in lattes and why it matters.

What Is a Latte?

Before we dive into sugar content, let’s first define what a latte is. A latte is a coffee drink with a shot of espresso, steamed milk, and a layer of frothed milk on top. It is typically served in a 12-ounce cup and can be customized with flavors such as vanilla or caramel.

Do Lattes Have Sugar?

Now, onto the question at hand. Do lattes have sugar? The answer is, it depends. A basic latte, made with only espresso and milk, has no added sugar. However, many coffee shops and chains add syrups or sauces to their lattes, which can contain a significant amount of sugar.

For example, a grande (16-ounce) Starbucks Vanilla Latte contains 35 grams of sugar. That’s nearly as much sugar as a can of Coke! Other coffee chains and independent cafes may use different flavored syrups or sauces, but the sugar content can still be quite high.

How Much Sugar Is Too Much?

The American Heart Association recommends that women limit their added sugar intake to 25 grams per day and men limit to 36 grams per day. With one vanilla latte containing 35 grams of sugar, it’s easy to see how quickly a person can exceed this limit.

Consuming too much added sugar can lead to a variety of health problems, such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. It’s important to be mindful of the foods and drinks we consume and to limit our intake of added sugars.

Why Do Coffee Shops Add Sugar to Lattes?

So if lattes can be enjoyed without added sugar, why do coffee shops add it in the first place? The answer is simple – it tastes good.

Syrups and sauces can add a burst of sweetness and flavor to a latte, making it more enjoyable for many people. Coffee chains such as Starbucks offer a wide range of flavored syrups to cater to different taste preferences.

However, it’s important to note that adding sugar to a latte can also increase its calorie count. A grande Starbucks Vanilla Latte contains 250 calories, with nearly half coming from sugar.

Can Lattes Be Enjoyed Without Added Sugar?

Absolutely! If you want to enjoy a latte without the added sugar, simply order it plain. You can also ask for sugar-free syrups or sauces if you want a flavored latte without the extra sugar.

Many coffee shops also offer non-dairy milk options, such as soy or almond milk, which can reduce the sugar content of a latte. These types of milk often have less sugar than cow’s milk.


In conclusion, lattes can vary in sugar content depending on how they are made. A basic latte contains no added sugar, but many coffee shops and chains add syrups or sauces that can significantly increase the sugar content.

Consuming too much added sugar can have negative health effects, so it’s important to be mindful of the foods and drinks we consume. If you want to enjoy a latte without added sugar, order it plain or ask for sugar-free options.

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