Does Branded Iced Coffee Have Too Much Sugar? (Wow!)

My wife and I love an iced coffee in the garden during the summer. However, we recently had one at Starbucks and were shocked by how sweet it was. So do the big brands put too much sugar in their iced coffee?

Many high-street iced coffee blends contain surprisingly high levels of sugar. For instance, Costa Coffee’s chocolate fudge brownie frappe mocha with oat milk reportedly contains 42.6g of sugar.

On the other hand, Starbucks’ Iced Americano has next to no sugar at 0.2g.

Across the board, a single iced coffee with sweetened condensed milk can pack 18 grams of added sugar, which can quickly contribute to your daily limit.

So let’s drill down into this subject in more detail, and consider the type and amounts of sugar in various brand name iced coffees – and understand what this means for your health…

Does Branded Iced Coffee Have Too Much Sugar?
Does Branded Iced Coffee Have Too Much Sugar?

Understanding Sugar Content in Branded Iced Coffee

Types of Sugars

When it comes to sugar content in branded iced coffee, it’s important to understand the different types of sugars that may be present.

Some branded iced coffees use natural sugars, like those found in milk or fruit, while others add refined sugars or artificial sweeteners to enhance the taste.

For example, a Costa Coffee frappe with skimmed milk contains 21.3g of sugar, which includes both natural sugars from milk and added sugars for flavor.

Impact on Health

Consuming too much sugar in your iced coffee can have various negative impacts on your health. High sugar consumption can lead to:

  • Weight gain
  • Increased risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Tooth decay
  • Heart disease

Considering that some branded iced coffees contain more sugar than a can of Coca-Cola, it’s crucial to pay attention to the amount and type of sugars you’re consuming when enjoying these refreshing drinks.

Recommended Daily Intake

According to dietary guidelines, it’s essential to limit your daily sugar intake to maintain optimal health. For reference, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends the following sugar intake limits:

  • Women: 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of added sugar per day
  • Men: 9 teaspoons (38 grams) of added sugar per day

Keeping these guidelines in mind, remember to check the labels of your favorite branded iced coffees and ensure that they align with your health and wellness goals.

Popular Branded Iced Coffees and Their Sugar Content

In this section, you’ll find information on the sugar content of popular iced coffee brands such as Starbucks, Dunkin’, McCafe, and Costa Coffee.


Starbucks offers a wide range of iced coffee options, with varying amounts of sugar. A typical Starbucks Iced Coffee contains 20g of sugar in a 24 fl oz serving.

However, these values can vary depending on the specific drink and any add-ins or customizations you choose. Be mindful of flavored syrups, whipped cream, and other sweet additions which can increase the sugar content considerably.


Dunkin’ offers iced coffee options that may also contain significant amounts of sugar. The Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee mentioned in the search results does not provide specific sugar content information.

Be cautious with flavored options, keeping in mind that these likely have differing levels of sugar based on added syrups and sweeteners.


McCafe iced coffees contain 28g of sugar per cup, which is a high amount.

This equates to around 180 calories per serving.

In this context, you should always be sure to check the nutritional information of each beverage to make an informed choice.

Costa Coffee

Costa Coffee’s iced latte is a best-seller and notably contains no added sugar, according to the BBC.

However, some of their other iced coffee options might contain high levels of sugar, like the chocolate fudge brownie frappe mocha with oat milk which has 42.6g of sugar.

is crucial to review the nutritional information for each drink to ensure you’re aware of the sugar content and make healthier choices if necessary.

This superb website has all the information you need on the relative sugar and caffeine amounts of all the high street branded coffees – plus information on ingredients.

How to Make Healthier Iced Coffee Choices

Opt for Smaller Sizes

When ordering iced coffee, choosing a smaller size can help you control your sugar intake. Smaller servings usually contain less added sugar and calories and can help moderate your consumption.

Try to avoid large or “venti” sizes, and go for “tall” or even “short” if available.

Choose Low-Sugar Options

Many popular iced coffee drinks have high sugar content due to added syrups and sweeteners. To reduce your sugar intake, opt for low-sugar alternatives.

For instance, consider a cold brew which typically has less sugar than a flavored latte. You can also choose an iced coffee with almond milk or unsweetened options available at most coffee shops.

Customize Your Order

One of the best ways to ensure a healthier iced coffee is to customize your order. Here are some tips for making your iced coffee healthier:

  • Use a natural sweetener: Instead of sugar or flavored syrups, ask for a natural sweetener such as honey, agave, or maple syrup, which can provide just a touch of sweetness without overloading your drink with sugar.
  • Choose non-dairy milk: Opting for almond milk, coconut milk, oat milk, or soy milk can lower the calorie and sugar content in your iced coffee.
  • Skip the whipped cream and toppings: Whipped cream and other toppings, like chocolate or caramel drizzle, can add unnecessary calories and sugar to your iced coffee. Skip these extras to keep your drink on the healthier side.

By following these guidelines, you can make healthier choices the next time you order an iced coffee and ultimately reduce your sugar consumption.

So Is There Really Too Much Sugar in Branded Ice Coffee?

When it comes to branded iced coffee, it is essential to be mindful of the sugar content. Many popular iced coffee drinks can contain significant amounts of added sugar, sometimes even exceeding the recommended daily intake of 24 grams for women and 36 grams for men.

It is worth noting that not all iced coffee beverages are created equal, and some options are better than others when it comes to sugar content.

To enjoy your iced coffee without overloading on sugar, consider seeking out options with less added sugar or using a lower-sugar sweetener like vanilla syrup.

Adding a touch of milk or a milk alternative can also help to balance the flavor without contributing too much sugar to the drink.

In terms of coffee’s impact on blood sugar, caffeine doesn’t appear to noticeably affect blood sugar levels for most young, healthy adults. Nonetheless, it is important to be aware of how the added sugar in branded iced coffee can contribute to your overall sugar consumption.

To make smart choices, always check the nutritional information of your preferred iced coffee drinks, and prioritize options with lower added sugar content. By doing so, you can continue to enjoy delicious iced coffee while keeping sugar intake under control.

Does Iced Coffee Really Have Too Much Sugar?
Does Iced Coffee Really Have Too Much Sugar?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the sugar content in popular iced coffee brands?

The sugar content in popular iced coffee brands can vary greatly.

Some brands have 0 grams of sugar, like Stumptown Cold Brew Coffee, while others can have much higher amounts of sugar due to added sweeteners and flavorings.

Always check the label or inquire at the coffee shop to find out the specific sugar content in your favorite iced coffee beverage.

Are there any iced coffee options with minimal sugar?

Yes, there are iced coffee options with minimal sugar. For instance, black iced coffee without any added sweeteners or flavorings typically contains little to no sugar.

Additionally, some flavored coffee beans, such as French vanilla or hazelnut, have no additional calories from sugar or sweeteners, so opting for flavored coffee beans can be a low-sugar choice.

How does the sugar content in iced coffee impact health?

High sugar content in iced coffee can have negative health effects. Consuming an excessive amount of sugar regularly can lead to weight gain, an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

For example, just two tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk, a popular iced coffee addition, contain 18 grams of added sugar. Being aware of the sugar content in your iced coffee can help you make healthier choices.

Which coffee chains offer low-sugar iced coffee alternatives?

Many coffee chains offer low-sugar iced coffee alternatives. Inquire about their unsweetened options or ask for sugar-free syrups when customizing your drink.

Many chains also have cold brew coffee on their menus, which can be a low-sugar choice when consumed black or with minimal sweeteners.

What are the best sugar-free sweeteners for iced coffee?

There are various sugar-free sweeteners available that you can use for your iced coffee. Some popular sugar substitutes include stevia, erythritol, and monk fruit extract.

These sweeteners can provide a similar sweetness to sugar without the added calories or negative health effects. Try different options to find the one that suits your taste preferences.

Is it common for iced coffee beverages to have hidden sugars?

It is relatively common for iced coffee beverages to have hidden sugars. These sugars can come from the additional sweeteners, flavorings, or toppings added to the drink.

To better control the sugar content in your iced coffee, ask for unsweetened options or customize your drink with sugar-free alternatives. Always read labels or inquire about the specific sugar content before you consume an iced coffee beverage.