Does Starbucks classic syrup have sugar?

Starbucks classic syrup is one of the most popular syrup flavors at Starbucks. It’s used to sweeten and flavor many Starbucks drinks like lattes, frappuccinos, and espresso drinks. But does this popular syrup contain sugar?

What is Starbucks classic syrup?

Starbucks classic syrup is a flavored syrup that baristas use to customize drinks. It comes in a plastic bottle and is added to drinks upon request by customers. The classic syrup has a simple sweet flavor that enhances coffee, espresso and milk-based drinks.

Some key facts about Starbucks classic syrup:

  • It has a smooth, sweet flavor reminiscent of simple syrup.
  • Starbucks describes it as having a “Traditional sweet” taste.
  • It’s colorless and transparent.
  • The classic syrup bottles are reusable and recyclable.
  • It’s suitable for customizing hot, iced and blended drinks.
  • Starbucks provides it as a standard syrup option for customizing drinks.

So in short, classic syrup is Starbucks’ standard sweetener that gives drinks a boost of simple sweetness. It’s popular for customizing coffee-based beverages to taste.

Nutrition Information

To determine if Starbucks classic syrup contains sugar, we need to examine the nutrition facts:

Serving Size 1 tbsp (12g)
Calories 45
Total Fat 0g
Sodium 0mg
Total Carbohydrate 11g
Sugars 11g

The nutrition label clearly shows the classic syrup provides 11g of sugar per serving. So yes, Starbucks classic syrup does contain sugar.

Each 1 tbsp (12g) serving of syrup contains 11g of total sugars. Since the total carbohydrates per serving is also 11g, we know that the carbohydrate content comes entirely from sugar. There are no complex carbohydrates like fiber or starch.

This makes sense given that classic syrup is used to sweeten drinks. Simple sugar syrup is needed to provide the sweet taste that customers expect.


Analyzing the ingredients list provides further confirmation that Starbucks classic syrup contains sugar:

Ingredients: Sugar, water, natural flavors, potassium sorbate, citric acid.

Sugar is listed as the first ingredient. This indicates it is the predominant ingredient by weight.

So both the nutrition label and ingredients list confirm that sugar is present in Starbucks classic syrup.

Sugar Sources

Since we know for certain Starbucks classic syrup contains sugar, the next question is – what types of sugars are used?

The ingredients list simply states “sugar” without specifying the source. However, we can deduce that the syrup likely uses plain white sugar or liquid sugar sources like corn syrup or invert syrup.

Here’s a breakdown of the most likely sugar sources found in Starbucks classic syrup:

  • Sucrose – Plain white granulated cane sugar. It provides the simple, sweet taste people expect from the classic syrup.
  • Corn syrup – Made from corn starch, corn syrup is glucose-heavy and provides a smooth sweetness. It could be used alone or in combination with sucrose.
  • Invert syrup – This liquid sugar product contains glucose and fructose, which creates a balanced sweetness. Starbucks may use invert syrup to achieve the classic flavor profile.

Starbucks doesn’t publicly provide details on which exact sugar sources are used in their classic syrup. But plain sucrose, corn syrup or invert syrup are the most likely candidates based on the simple, smooth sweetness of the syrup.

Sugar Content Compared to Other Starbucks Syrups

Starbucks offers over 30 different flavored syrups for customizing drinks, some of which also contain sugar.

How does the sugar content of the classic syrup compare to other Starbucks syrup options?

Here is a nutrition comparison of the sugar content in 1 tablespoon (12g) of some popular Starbucks syrup flavors:

Syrup Flavor Total Sugars
Classic syrup 11g
Vanilla syrup 12g
Cinnamon Dolce syrup 9g
Caramel syrup 12g
Hazelnut syrup 11g
White chocolate mocha syrup 13g
Peppermint syrup 11g
Raspberry syrup 12g
Chai syrup 11g

As seen above, the sugar content of classic syrup is fairly standard compared to other Starbucks syrups. Most contain 11-13g of sugar per serving.

So Starbucks classic syrup is about average in terms of its sugar content. Syrups across the board are high in sugar to deliver a sweet flavor.

Sugar Content of Full Drinks

Now that we know the classic syrup itself contains 11g of sugar per serving, how much sugar does that add up to in full drinks?

The amount of sugar will depend on the size of the beverage and how much classic syrup is added.

Here are some examples of the total sugar content when 1-2 pumps of classic syrup are added to popular Starbucks drinks:

Drink Size Classic Syrup Pumps Total Sugars
Caffe Latte Tall 12oz 1 pump 14g
Caffe Latte Grande 16oz 2 pumps 22g
Iced Coffee Grande 16oz 2 pumps 25g
Caramel Macchiato Venti 20oz 2 pumps 38g
Iced Mocha Venti 20oz 2 pumps 50g

The amount of classic syrup pumps can vary based on personal taste, but 1-2 pumps is typical. As shown, adding just 1-2 pumps of syrup can increase the total sugar content of a drink by 11-22g.

So while the classic syrup itself contains 11g of sugar per serving, the full sugar impact on a finished drink is even higher.

Sugar Content of Classic Syrup vs Simple Syrup

Some customers opt to customize their Starbucks drinks with simple syrup instead of classic syrup. Is there any difference in sugar content between them?

Simple syrup is an unflavored liquid sugar made from pure sugar and water. It’s essentially just liquid sucrose.

The sugar content per tablespoon is nearly identical between Starbucks classic syrup and simple syrup:

  • Starbucks classic syrup: 11g
  • Simple syrup: 12g

So simple syrup contains slightly more sugar at 12g per tablespoon, compared to 11g in the classic syrup. But this is a minimal difference.

Both syrups are concentrated sources of liquid sugar. From a sugar perspective, using simple syrup versus classic syrup makes little difference.

Sugar-Free Syrup Options

For customers looking to cut down on sugar in their Starbucks drinks, there are sugar-free (or lightly sweetened) syrup options:

  • Sugar free cinnamon dolce syrup – Uses sucralose as a zero-calorie sweetener. Provides cinnamon flavor without sugar.
  • Sugar free vanilla syrup – Contains sucralose and acesulfame potassium artificial sweeteners.
  • Sugar free caramel syrup – Sweetened with sucralose and contains caramel flavor.
  • Sugar free hazelnut syrup – Provides hazelnut taste without sugar or calories.
  • Skinny mocha sauce – A lighter mocha made with low-fat milk, sugar and cocoa.

These sugar-free varieties allow you to flavor drinks without spiking the sugar content. They aresweetened instead with non-nutritive zero-calorie sweeteners.

Using sugar-free syrup may be an option for those looking to cut back on sugar without sacrificing flavor. However, some people dislike the aftertaste of artificial sweeteners.

Making Drinks Lower in Sugar

Beyond using sugar-free syrup, some other ways to order drinks lower in sugar include:

  • Ask for less pumps of syrup – 1 pump will be lower in sugar than 2-3 pumps.
  • Opt for small or tall sizes – The smaller the drink, the less syrup added.
  • Request light or no classic syrup – You can always add your own sweetener later.
  • Add just a splash of syrup – This minimizes the syrup sugar impact.
  • Ask for reduced-sugar syrups – Examples are skinny mocha and sugar-free varieties.
  • Choose drinks made with sugar-free ingredients – Like sugar-free vanilla lattes or iced coffees.
  • Customize with sugar-free mix-ins – For example, sugar-free cinnamon or chocolate powder.

Being mindful of syrup pumps, size, mix-ins and reduced-sugar ingredients allows you to enjoy tasty drinks with less sugar.

Does Classic Syrup Have High Fructose Corn Syrup?

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a sweetener made from corn that is concerning to some due to potential health impacts. It consists of glucose and a high proportion of fructose.

Starbucks classic syrup ingredients are listed simply as “sugar, water…” without specifying corn syrup or HFCS.

However, it’s unlikely that Starbucks classic syrup contains HFCS. The reasons are:

  • Classic syrup has a simple, smooth sweetness, while HFCS has a distinct taste profile.
  • HFCS is cheaper than sucrose, so unlikely to be used in a premium product like Starbucks syrup.
  • Starbucks states their syrups use non-GMO ingredients. Most HFCS is made from GMO corn.
  • Non-GMO verified syrups like caramel contain cane sugar, not corn syrup.

Based on this, HFCS is probably not an ingredient in Starbucks classic syrup. While it’s possible they use non-GMO corn syrup, plain sugar or invert syrup seems more likely.

Is the Sugar in Classic Syrup Natural?

The ingredients list for Starbucks classic syrup simply states “sugar” without clarifying the source. So is the sugar naturally derived?

There are a few possibilities:

  • Cane sugar – This comes directly from sugarcane plants and is naturally derived. Cane sugar in liquid form may be used in Starbucks classic syrup for its natural origins and balanced sweetness.
  • Beet sugar – Sugar can also be made from sugar beets, another natural vegetable source. Beet sugar is common in products labeled as “naturally sweetened.”
  • Corn syrup – While made from corn, high fructose corn syrup goes through extensive chemical processing. So it would not be considered a natural sweetener. Unlikely to be used in Starbucks classic syrup.

Based on Starbucks’ focus on high quality natural ingredients, cane sugar or beet sugar are the most likely sources of sweetness in their classic syrup.

The sugar provides the expected sweetness, while “natural flavors” provide the subtle nuances of the classic syrup taste.

Does the Sugar Come from GMO Sources?

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are plants or ingredients that have had their DNA artificially altered. Common GMO crops include corn, soy, sugar beets and more.

Starbucks states that all its beverages and food items do not contain any GMO ingredients. This suggests the sugar source in their classic syrup is non-GMO.

Cane sugar and beet sugar are naturally non-GMO. Corn syrup can be made from GMO corn, but Starbucks likely uses non-GMO corn since they avoid GMOs across all products.

So while we don’t know the exact plant source, the sugar in Starbucks classic syrup is assuredly non-GMO based on their company standards against GMOs.

Is the Sugar Ethically Sourced?

Starbucks has committed to ethically sourcing 100% of their coffee beans, but what about sugar sources like those used in the classic syrup?

As part of the company’s Global Responsibility standards, Starbucks aims to ensure its sugar is ethically purchased as well.

They state their sugar must come from certified sustainable farms, who meet criteria for fair labor practices and minimal environmental impact.

While not 100% confirmed, it’s highly likely Starbucks seeks ethical sugar for their classic syrup aligned to the company’s responsibility principles.


In conclusion, the answer is clear – yes, Starbucks classic syrup does contain sugar.

The nutrition facts confirm each 1 tablespoon serving provides 11g of total sugar. And sugar is listed as the first ingredient.

The likely sources are cane sugar, beet sugar or non-GMO corn syrup. Starbucks classic syrup contains approximately the same amount of sugar as other flavored syrups.

Adding just 1-2 pumps of classic syrup can increase the total sugar content of drinks by 11g or more per serving. So the full sugar impact is higher in a finished beverage.

Customers can request modifications like less syrup, sugar-free syrup or smaller sizes to cut down on sugar content. But by itself, Starbucks classic syrup definitively contains sugar as a primary ingredient.

Leave a Comment