Your Coffee Fix Isn’t a Coffee Fix

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Hasna Ceran, Features Editor

Starbucks has gone entirely too far. Once a place to get coffee, the entire enterprise has now become a ruthless sugar dealer. Seriously, the average Starbucks barista is probably moving more white powder in a day than Pablo Escobar did in his prime. This saccharine subjugator of insulin needs to be reigned in by someone with common sense, concern for human life and working tastebuds, and soon.

I say this as someone who was both a Starbucks Gold member back when Starbucks Rewards still had tiers and who is currently less than two feet away from a Starbucks. I’ve certainly dumped my fair share of mermaid-emblazoned cups into the landfill, so this is not coming from a place of anti-Starbucks sentiment. Their coffee is available and consistent everywhere I go, and that’s all my caffeine-dependent self can really ask for. We’ve been through a lot, Starbucks coffee and I.

However, recently I’ve begun to feel like a survivor in a zombie apocalypse, and my only traveling companion in this wasteland is refusing to roll up one of her sleeves. Have you ever actually looked at the nutritional facts for some of these Starbucks drinks? Most of the drinks on the menu have way too much sugar for something that’s marketed as a pick-me-up or a treat, rather than a ridiculously indulgent dessert on its own. Especially the ever-so-popular Frappuccinos. 

Firstly, as petty as this point is, Frappuccinos are to coffee as maple syrup is to apple juice. But fine, let the so-called “coffee shop” branch out into other drinks. I’m not a purist who is going to deny Starbucks the opportunity to sell whatever sorts of coffee-adjacent drinks — coffee-adjacent in this context meaning “made somewhere in the vicinity of actual coffee” — its heart desires. That is unless the drinks they’re selling are likely capable of making a baby elephant’s heart explode from sugar overload. The sugar in Frappuccinos ranges from about 30 grams to 60 grams for a tall drink. Starbucks’ standard small is 12 fluid ounces. Just to provide a comparison, the amount of sugar in 12 ounces of Dreyers Classic vanilla ice cream is 39 grams. 

Once you are finished swallowing that not-so-sweet pill, think about the number of children and adolescents you know that drink Starbucks Frappuccinos on a regular basis, not to mention the rising popularity of “secret menu” drinks on social media, with extensive customizations that often raise the sugar content by a large amount. Take, for example, one of the popular “TikTok drinks” that is being ordered en masse: the “Churro Frappuccino” recipe shared by TikTok user @starbuckswithlizzie. It features four pumps of white mocha and four pumps of vanilla syrup, not to mention the caramel drizzle on top. Starbucks’s own original drinks feature six pumps in a venti iced beverage, meaning this drink features nearly 1.5 times the amount of syrup in an already syrupy Frappuccino. 

Is it any surprise that childhood obesity is on the rise when drinks like these are not viewed as ridiculously unhealthy glucose bombs to be treated as rare luxuries? 

I cannot put all the blame on Starbucks, though. After all, these TikTok customizations don’t come out of nowhere. Someone thinks of them, and a horde of users rush to Starbucks to order them. I’ve seen orders with upwards of 10 pumps of raspberry syrup added in customizations. I’ve stopped at the counter and watched adults order their lattes with a heavy cream substitute instead of milk to make their drink “keto-friendly.” Pro tip: Even if a drink that is mostly heavy cream is deemed “keto-friendly,”  I can assure you it’s not artery-friendly. The average person seems to be unaware of just how much they can hurt their body with a single Starbucks drink.

Now, do I believe having a Frappuccino once in a while is going to cause me to go into cardiac arrest right there at the counter, leaving the barista to administer CPR? No. Do I believe I can drink that much sugar regularly and remain in perfect health? Absolutely not. 

The fact that the majority of the food readily available to us in America is actively trying to kill us is no secret, but I think it’s about time we start attacking the drinks just as readily as the burgers. 

Besides, they just kind of taste bad. 

Hasna Ceran