Healthy Drinks

How To DIY Healthier Versions of Classic Starbucks Summer Coffee Drinks

Emily Laurence

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For me, the unofficial start of summer has long been the day I switch over from hot lattes to iced. Sort of like how it’s not actually fall until you have that first PSL. (Shout out to all my fellow basic, pumpkin-loving peeps out there.) Hot weather also makes for the perfect drinking conditions for another Starbucks specialty: frappuccinos. I mean, seriously, aren’t summer coffee drinks the best?

But unlike plain ol’ coffee and oat milk lattes, specialty iced coffee drinks are generally considered by health experts to be more of an occasional treat rather than an everyday bev. (Holy sugar content, Batman!) But if you make them at home, you can actually make them healthy—yep, even frapps.

Looking for the healthiest Starbucks coffee order this summer? Here’s what a dietitian recommends: 

With many cafes (including most Starbucks locations) closed for the first few months of the pandemic, you’ve probably been making coffee at home way more often than you used to. Now, it’s time to step up your coffee making game just in time for summer by adding some spices and healthy creamers into the mix.

Rounded up here are ways to make healthy iced coffee drinks at home—and also a few non-coffee drinks that are classic summertime faves, just in case you’re not into coffee. You don’t need an expensive espresso machine to make any of them and they’re all dietitian-approved.

If you like mocha frapps:

Try: Ice, coffee, alt-milk, and Vital Proteins Mocha Collagen Creamer ($29 for 11 oz)

You know what the whipped cream on a cafe-bought mocha frappuccino doesn’t have? Beauty- and digestion-boosting collagen. “I love this healthy drink makeover,” registered dietitian Melissa Rifkin, RD says. “With 10 grams of protein per scoop and 8 grams of fat, you’re guaranteed satiety and great flavor, not to mention the health benefits of collagen, which include bone formation, gut health, and skin integrity.” Plus, the creamer itself has only one gram of sugar, so depending on how much sugar is in your alt-milk, you’re in for a super healthy bev.

To make this drink, combine a cup of coffee (chilled, if possible), with a quarter cup of the non-dairy milk of your choice, ice, and a scoop of the collagen creamer in a blender. Then, puree for about 45 seconds, or until it has the texture you prefer.

If you like strawberry frapps:

Try: Ice, alternative milk, fresh strawberries, and Califia Farms Vanilla Creamer ($26 for pack of six)

At Starbucks, the strawberry flavoring is made from a mix of strawberry puree, white grape juice concentrate, and fruit and vegetable juice for color. Using real strawberries for flavor nixes those artificial ingredients from your cup, while also adding fiber, calcium, and antioxidants. Rifkin also says that using the alt-milk and the creamer gives the thick, creamy texture, but at a fraction of the calories and sugar.

To make it, wash and cut up a cup of fresh strawberries. Then, add them to your blender, along with ice, three-fourths cup alternative milk, and scoop of the creamer. Puree for about 45 seconds.

If you like iced caramel macchiatos:

Try: Ice, coffee, alternative milk, Simply Organic Pre-Brewed Coffee Cinnamon Spices ($10), and Anima Mundi Coconut Cream Powder ($16 for 8 oz)

The key to making a healthier iced caramel macchiato is finding non-sugary ways to sweeten it, which is exactly what the pre-brewed cinnamon spices blend and the coconut cream do. “The Anima Mundi creamer has healthy MCT fat [from the coconuts], which is good for immunity,” Rifkin says.

Make this drink by brewing your coffee with the cinnamon spice blend (just add a teaspoon to the grounds before brewing). Refrigerate your coffee so it gets nice and chilled. Then, pour it into a blender with a quarter cup alternative milk, a small scoop of creamer (around one tablespoon), and ice. Blend for 45 seconds.

If you like iced chai lattes:

Try: ice, black tea, alternative milk, Clevr Chai Tea Latte Blend ($28)

Starbucks’s chai blend (which they use in their chai lattes) is already pretty healthy; it’s made with black tea, cardamom, black pepper, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves, but the Clvr chai latte blend brings something extra to your glass: adaptogens, aka herbs that can help the body deal with stress. (The blend uses ashwagandha, lion’s mane, and reishi). The blends also has probiotics, making it a gut-healthy drink. “Adaptogens and probiotics? Sign me up!” Rifkin says. She says that the lion’s mane and reishi, combined with the black tea (which is also good for the gut, BTW) can help increase focus and concentration.

To make this, boil two cups of water on the stove in a small saucepan. Add the black tea bags and cover the saucepan. Let it steep for 15 minutes. Remove the tea bags and pour the liquid into a glass or plastic pitcher. Then, add about five cups of cold water. Place it in the fridge until it’s cold. When it’s ready, mix a cup of the black tea, a quarter cup alternative milk, and scoop of the Clevr chai tea latte blend into a small bowl and stir it all together. (If you have a frother, you can use that to make it nice and frothy.) Then, add the mixture to a glass filled with ice.

If you like s’more frapps:

Try: Ice, alternative milk, Copina Co. Cacao Calm Beauty ($30), Ripple Vanilla Half And Half ($5), Know Brainer Max Mallow Cinnamon Toast Marshmallow ($16), graham crackers ($5)

This iced coffee drink is *super* fancy, but the end result is worth the effort. To get the taste exactly right, it’s important to have a mix of chocolate, vanilla, and of course the marshmallow and graham cracker. The Copina Co. Cacao Calm Beauty blend is made with cacao, collagen, and ashwagandha—this isn’t your typical cacao powder, that’s for sure. The cacao also is full of antioxidants. “The Ripple Half And Half [made with pea protein] is a great alternative to traditional half-and-half because it’s low in sugar,” Rifkin says. “Similarly, the Know Brainer marshmallow is lower in sugar.” Bonus: it also contains MCT oil for a boost of healthy fats.

Make this drink by combining a cup of alternative milk, scoop of Copina Co. Cacao Calm Beauty powder, quarter cup Ripple Vanilla Half And Half, and ice into a blender. Blend for 45 seconds, or until it’s a creamy texture. Pour into a glass. Top with graham cracker crumbs and a marshmallow.

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