In its nineteen years in the Philippines, Starbucks has become an integral part of the Filipino dining culture.

Eager to sip into the Starbucks experience, Filipinos welcomed the American brand with open arms when the first coffee house opened up in the bustling streets of Makati in 1997.

Today with over 200 shops in the Philippines, Starbucks has evolved into a daily pitstop for many Filipinos all over the country searching for their caffeine fix.

Sure, the Seattle-based company’s coffee is widely considered top-notch; but let’s take a moment to ask: how healthy is this Starbucks habit that has become deeply ingrained into our culture and many others?

While numerous studies suggest that coffee serves up some pretty sweet health benefits (including the possibility of increased longevity), these studies usually refer to black coffee.

Unfortunately, the Starbucks Frappuccino, which is a favorite among Filipinos is a sugar bomb with as many calories as some decadent desserts. In fact, many other items on the Starbucks menu are loaded with sugar. But don’t despair, ordering wisely can spell the difference between a caffeine-induced rise in energy levels and a subsequent sugar crash which will likely send you back for yet another cup of joe.

While we’re not out to spoil the fun of indulging in a Starbucks coffee, we selected four popular drinks from the coffee house and suggested some easy tips to make our favorite drinks a tad healthier. Check it out!

(The following information is based on tall beverages, except for the Chai Tea Latte).

 Chai Tea Latte

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An uber popular choice, the chai tea latte is among the worst offenders on the Starbucks beverage menu. Many of us are under the impression that tea is healthy and low-calorie drink (which usually is the case), but when it’s in the form of a Starbucks Chai Tea Latte, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Thanks to the Starbucks Chai Concentrate, the drink has nearly as much sugar as one can of Coke.

HACK: If you love tea, why not opt for a Tazo chai tea bag then add milk yourself at the bar? It’s not only cheaper than ordering a Chai Tea Latte, but it’ll also have way less sugar (since you can add sugar according to taste) and fewer calories. You may never go back to pre-mixed chai lattes after this hack!

White Chocolate Mocha

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This beverage combines the flavors of espresso, white chocolate-flavored sauce, and steamed milk topped with sweetened whipped cream. It sounds delicious, but a tall cup will set you back nearly 400 calories, which can be the equivalent of an entire meal. Plus, the White Chocolate Mocha is high in both fat and sodium.

HACK: Ditch large coffee cups! If you can’t live without a White Chocolate Mocha fix, ask for the beverage in a short serving size. The short size cup is just 8 ounces and is an off-the-menu request you can make to actively downsize sugary drinks.

Caffé Mocha

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The distinct bittersweet chocolate flavor of Caffe Mocha makes it a popular pick amongst many Starbucks-goers. However with 35 grams of sugar,  it contains about 40% more sugar than the recommended daily intake guideline provided by the World Health Organization.

HACK: If this is your drink of choice, forgo the whipped cream or request the barista to pump less mocha sauce into your cup. Over time, your taste buds will likely evolve to appreciate drinks (or foods) with lower sugar content.

Caramel Macchiato

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The Caramel Macchiato contains vanilla-flavored syrup and steamed whole milk, marked with a shot of espresso and topped with foamy milk and caramel drizzle. Although not a low-calorie drink, at 200 calories it is indeed one of the lower calorie drinks on the Starbucks menu.

HACK: Cut calories further by opting for skim milk or downsizing to short can do wonders for your waistline over time.

Coffee Houses to Reduce Sugar Content in Drinks

Many popular international coffee chains are guilty of using unhealthy amounts of sugar and fat in their drinks. But Starbucks is actively working on reducing sugar in some of their drinks by 25% by the end of 2020 and including all nutritional information on their menu boards and online.

Until then, order an Americano instead during your daily Starbucks trip. It’s healthier, and not to mention more potent. But if you’re not the black coffee type of person, opting for a short Caffe Latte or Cappuccino might be the smarter choice.

*Images taken from Starbucks.com’s The Anatomy of a Starbucks Beverage

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