When Jack Frost starts nipping at our noses, nothing gets us roasty-toasty from the inside out like a festive coffee drink. But, hold up just a minute. Those tasty, peppermint-sprinkled, mocha-infused, chocolate-laced beverages tend to be high in calories, fat, and sugar. A Venti-sized Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha with whipped cream, for example, weighs in at 580 calories — the same amount as 6 tablespoons of mayo! Even if you don’t intentionally choose an extra-large, extra-sugary drink, whipped cream, sweeteners, flavored syrups, and half-and-half come standard. All the extras can pack on the calories and sugar, turning your afternoon pick-me-up into the equivalent of a warmed-up ice cream sundae.
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Instead of skipping the daily dose of caffeine altogether — or sipping on austere black coffee — try your hand at making these popular coffee drinks at home. In your own kitchen, you can control how much sugar, cream, and other goodies go into the mix. Plus, you can save a little dough by forgoing a five-dollar daily indulgence.
Note: All calorie counts are based on a 12 ounce Starbucks drink made with whole milk and without whipped cream. (A swirl of whip adds 70 calories and six grams of fat, on average.)
1. Eggnog Latte
Nothing helps set a festive mood like a glass of eggnog (with or without a splash of bourbon). That’s probably why the big S invented a massively popular coffee-based eggnog drink of their own. It’s also off-the-charts caloric, with a whopping 380 calories, 18 grams of fat, and 38 grams of sugar. If you’d rather not drink a (not so healthy) liquid lunch, trade in the Starbucks original for this homemade version, which boasts fewer than half the calories.
2. Caramel Brulee Latte
The Starbucks original drink tips the scale at 300 calories with eight grams of fat and 38 grams of sugar. Get the same caramelly goodness at home with this super easy recipe. With caramel syrup, vanilla, coffee, milk (choose skim or one percent to cut down on calories), and a sprinkling of brown sugar, it’s a lighter, less teeth-achingly sweet choice. Cut down on sugar even more by nixing the brown sugar and going easy on the caramel syrup.
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4. Hazelnut Macchiato
Basically a gold-wrapped chocolate truffle in liquid form, this sweet drink has 200 calories, seven grams of fat, and 23 grams of sugar. While those stats are actually on the low side for Starbucks holiday beverages, the homemade version has just 75 calories. We think that justifies a little whipped cream on top, right? This toasty potion gets its flavor from hazelnut coffee, chocolate syrup, and sugar-free vanilla syrup.
The phrase “salted caramel” just screams indulgence, right? From brownies to dark chocolate to coffee drinks, a drizzle of the good stuff takes any treat from ho-hum to HOT DAMN. Cut back on sugar with a homemade version that lets you control the sweet stuff (the coffeehouse recipe for this drink has 280 calories, nine grams of fat, and 40 grams of sugar). Tone down the sugar and caramel sauce for a lighter holiday beverage. Your chompers (and dentist) will thank you!
6. Cinnamon Dolce Latte
We already know that adding cinnamon to coffee is a tasty, healthy way to add sweetness without reaching for the sugar shaker. Unfortunately, Starbucks never got the memo — their sweet ‘n spicy latte has 230 calories, eight grams of fat, and 29 grams of the sweet stuff (holy cavities!). Instead of getting a sugar high after just one sip, make a healthier version in your own kitchen and control the amount of sweetness in each mug. This recipe is a bit work-intensive because it involves making cinnamon-sugar syrup from scratch. Let’s be honest though, you’ll probably find some other uses for it. (On top of Greek yogurt, perhaps?)
Who needs a white Christmas when you can order a white chocolate latte no matter what the weather report says? Not so fast. This sweet treat has more sugar than any other Starbucks beverage (44 grams), as well as 330 calories and 12 grams of fat. While it would make a delectable dessert, this drink is probably not ideal for an afternoon pick-me-up. The homemade recipe has just three ingredients — coffee, milk, and white chocolate chips. Adjust the ratio of chocolate chips to coffee to milk to create a tasty but still relatively healthy beverage. Check you out, barista!
8. Peppermint Mocha Latte
Between the mint, chocolate, coffee, and vanilla, this drink is stuffed to the brim with holiday flavor. Instead of blowing your coffee calorie budget on a drink (the Starbucks version has 280 calories, nine grams of fat, and 40 grams of sugar), make this lighter homemade version and still have room for a small cookie! It’s a win-win trade in our book.
The PSL is the number one coffee drink of autumn (not necessarily winter) but we couldn’t assemble a coffee drinks list and leave this guy out in the cold. With 270 calories, eight grams of fat, and 37 grams of sugar, the pumpkin spice latte is sometimes called a “liquid dessert” for a reason. Get your seasonal cheer on with this spicy homemade version (without losing your appetite). With pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, pumpkin puree, milk, and Stevia, this drink is just as tasty even without the red cup.
10. Peppermint Hot Chocolate
Nothing gets us in the holiday spirit quite like the combination of peppermint and chocolate. At Starbucks, this winter classic gets the royal treatment with two different flavored syrups, sweetened whipped cream, and dark chocolate shavings. For a sweet treat that won’t set you back nearly 300 calories, get out your saucepan and combine milk, peppermint extract, cocoa powder, and agave nectar instead.
What’s your favorite seasonal coffee beverage? Share in the comments below or get in touch with the author on Twitter @SophBreene.
Full disclosure: Sometimes, we're lazy. So, whether it's seven ways to simplify our morning routine or how to make our time at the gym actually enjoyable, we're into it. And, to keep us on track, we've turned to Greatist, because they've got us excited about being healthy — and just trying to get a good night's sleep.