A tall Irish cream cold brew from Starbucks contains approximately 390 calories. The calories come primarily from the Irish cream syrup, which is made with Irish whiskey and dairy.
Calories in Starbucks Drinks
Starbucks offers a wide variety of cold coffee and tea beverages that range significantly in their calorie content. Some factors that impact the calories in Starbucks drinks include:
- Size – Calories increase with larger drink sizes.
- Dairy – Drinks made with milk, cream, whipped cream or syrups contain more calories than dairy-free drinks.
- Sweeteners – Flavored syrups, sauces, toppings and sugars add a significant amount of calories.
- Coffee vs. Tea – Coffee-based drinks tend to be lower in calories than creamed teas.
- Blended vs. Iced – Blended frozen coffee drinks contain more calories than iced coffee drinks.
- Add-ins – Ingredients like protein powder or extra espresso shots increase calories.
For example, a tall Caffè Latte with 2% milk contains 150 calories, while a tall Java Chip Frappuccino Blended Coffee with whipped cream contains 420 calories. Unsweetened brewed coffee or tea contains 5 calories or less per tall cup.
Nutrition Facts for Irish Cream Cold Brew
The Irish cream cold brew is a specialty iced coffee drink made with Starbucks’ Cold Brew coffee, Irish cream syrup, and ice.
According to Starbucks, here are the nutrition facts for a tall Irish cream cold brew (12 fluid ounces):
|Tall (12 fl oz)
As you can see, the majority of calories come from fat (19g) and carbohydrates (44g). The high fat and carb content is due to the Irish cream syrup, which contains dairy and sugar.
Calories from Irish Cream Syrup
The Irish cream syrup is the key ingredient that sets this drink apart from regular iced coffee. The syrup adds a sweet Irish cream flavor.
According to Starbucks, the nutrition facts for 3/4/5 pumps of Irish cream syrup are:
|3 pumps (Tall)
|4 pumps (Grande)
|5 pumps (Venti)
As you can see, the Irish cream syrup alone contains 120-200 calories depending on the number of pumps used in the drink.
The syrup ingredients include sugar, dairy products (cream and milk), natural and artificial flavors, and caramel color. It does not contain any Irish whiskey, despite the name.
So the Irish cream syrup accounts for about one-third of the total calories in a tall Irish cream cold brew.
Calories from Cold Brew Coffee
The Irish cream cold brew starts with Starbucks’ signature Cold Brew coffee. Cold brew is made by steeping ground coffee beans in cool or cold water for an extended period of time, rather than hot water like regular brewed coffee. This slow-steep process results in a smooth, rich, highly concentrated coffee liquid.
Starbucks Cold Brew coffee has the following nutrition facts per 12 fluid ounces:
|12 fl oz
As you can see, unsweetened Cold Brew coffee is very low in calories and contains no fat, carbs, or protein.
So the coffee itself contributes minimal calories to the Irish cream cold brew. The calories come almost entirely from the Irish cream syrup and milk that are added to the black Cold Brew concentrate.
Are There Any Ways to Reduce the Calories?
Given that the bulk of calories come from the sugary Irish cream syrup, one way to lower the calorie count would be to ask for fewer pumps of syrup.
Ordering a tall with 3 pumps of syrup instead of the standard 4 pumps would save you about 40 calories. Going down to 2 pumps would save you 80 calories compared to the 4 pump standard.
You can also request alternative milk options that are lower in calories and fat compared to the standard 2% dairy milk. Options include:
- Non-fat milk – cuts calories and fat significantly
- Soy milk – contains about half the calories of 2% dairy milk
- Almond milk – contains about half the calories of 2% dairy milk
- Coconut milk – contains about 2/3 the calories of 2% dairy milk
Making these milk swaps could reduce the calories by anywhere from 25-125 calories depending on the option.
Lastly, asking for no whipped cream would save you about 50 calories. Whipped cream adds fat, carbs and calories without significantly contributing to the Irish cream flavor.
So in summary, to create the lowest calorie Irish cream cold brew:
– Order a tall size
– Ask for less Irish cream syrup pumps (2-3 instead of 4)
– Substitute non-fat dairy milk or a non-dairy milk
– Hold the whipped cream
This would create an Irish cream cold brew with roughly 200-300 calories – cutting 100+ calories from the standard recipe.
Does the Size Impact Calories?
Yes, the size of the Irish cream cold brew makes a significant impact on the total calories you will consume.
Here’s a breakdown of the calories by size:
|Tall (12 fl oz)
|Grande (16 fl oz)
|Venti (24 fl oz)
The tall size has the least calories, while the venti has the most. Jumping from a tall to a venti Irish cream cold brew adds 210 calories.
The calorie difference stems from venti drinks getting an extra shot of espresso and extra pumps of Irish cream syrup:
- Tall – 2 shots espresso, 4 pumps syrup
- Grande – 3 shots espresso, 4 pumps syrup
- Venti – 4 shots espresso, 5 pumps syrup
More espresso and more syrup equals more calories. Also, larger cup sizes mean you are drinking a greater volume of liquid overall.
So choosing a tall, opting for less syrup, and sticking to dairy-free milk is your best bet for limiting calories in an Irish cream cold brew. But keeping portion size reasonable is also key to preventing excess calorie intake.
Comparing Calories to Other Starbucks Drinks
The Irish cream cold brew is on the higher end of Starbucks’ drinks in terms of calorie content:
|Pumpkin Spice Latte
|Java Chip Frappuccino
|Irish Cream Cold Brew
The Irish cream cold brew has 50 more calories than a Caramel Macchiato and about 90 more calories than a Latte. However it has fewer calories than the super sugary coffee-blended Frappuccinos.
Compared to brewed hot coffee which contains 5 calories for a tall cup, the Irish cream cold brew has significantly more calories – but that’s expected given the addition of syrup and milk.
Overall, while the Irish cream cold brew is one of Starbucks’ more indulgent drinks, there are certainly many less healthy options both at Starbucks and other coffee chains. Modifying your order to reduce calories can help make it a more occasional treat.
Should You Consume This Every Day?
At 390 calories for a tall, the Irish cream cold brew would supply nearly 20% of a standard 2000 calorie daily diet. Consuming this drink every day could make it difficult to meet nutrition goals.
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting added sugars to no more than 10% of daily calorie intake. The 44g of sugar in a tall Irish cream cold brew accounts for 88% of the recommended 50g limit for a 2000 calorie diet.
Drinking this high-calorie beverage daily could lead to:
- Weight gain over time, as calorie intake exceeds needs
- Increased blood sugar and insulin levels from excess added sugars
- Nutritional deficiencies, as drink calories replace healthier food options
- Increased risk for obesity, diabetes, and heart disease
Most nutrition experts recommend limiting higher calorie beverages and instead getting most daily hydration from water, unsweetened coffee or tea.
But an Irish cream cold brew in moderation, such as 1-2 times per week, can be worked into an overall healthy diet. Just balance it out by making careful food choices for the rest of the day.
Tips for Consuming This Drink in Moderation
Here are some tips to keep your Irish cream cold brew an occasional treat if you want to consume it moderately as part of a balanced diet:
- Limit yourself to no more than 1-2 per week
- Order the smallest size available (tall)
- Ask for less pumps of Irish cream syrup
- Substitute milk for a lower calorie option like non-fat dairy or almond milk
- Avoid adding whipped cream on top
- Balance out calories for the rest of the day by eating lighter meals and snacks
- Drink plenty of water and unsweetened iced tea or cold brew in between indulgences
- Burn off some calories by getting exercise on days you treat yourself
Be mindful of your overall calorie intake for the day whenever enjoying this sweet coffee drink. Moderating portions and frequencies is key to keeping this beverage from causing weight gain or other adverse health effects.
Healthier Low-Calorie Coffee Drink Alternatives
If you love the taste of Irish cream cold brew but want to cut back on calories and added sugar, here are some healthier low-calorie Starbucks drink ideas:
- Cold Brew with non-fat milk and sugar-free flavor. Try cold brew with a splash of nonfat milk and sugar-free vanilla or cinnamon dolce syrup. You’ll get the creaminess without the calories.
- Iced skinny latte. Made with nonfat milk and a shot of sugar-free flavor, a skinny iced latte contains about 60-80 calories for a tall.
- Iced coffee with a pump of flavor. Brewed iced coffee with just one pump of syrup provides flavor at a fraction of the calories.
- Cold brew with dairy-free milk. Cold brew with coconut or almond milk keeps calories low while providing nutty flavor.
- Iced chai tea latte made with nonfat milk. A healthier take on a milk tea drink.
- Brewed coffee or americano. Keep it simple with just fresh brewed coffee served hot or over ice.
There are many ways to order low-calorie cold coffee drinks that can satisfy your craving. You can even ask your barista for suggestions on how to “skinny up” any higher calorie drink.
Watching your portions and ingredients is key to enjoying coffeehouse beverages while maintaining overall health.
A tall Irish cream cold brew from Starbucks contains about 390 calories, with the majority coming from the Irish cream syrup and milk ingredients. Choosing a smaller size, reducing syrup pumps, and opting for non-fat dairy or dairy-free milk can lessen the calorie impact.
While delicious, the Irish cream cold brew is very high in calories and added sugar. Enjoying this sweet drink daily could lead to weight gain and other health issues. Limiting yourself to 1-2 times per week and balancing intake for the rest of your meals can allow you to fit this drink into your diet in moderation. There are also ways to order lower-calorie cold coffee drinks that reduce your calorie, sugar, and fat intake.
Overall, being an informed consumer and carefully customizing your coffee drink order allows you to splurge on special beverages like the Irish cream cold brew while still maintaining a nutritious diet. Just be mindful of portions and listen to your body’s hunger cues. A tall Irish cream cold brew in moderation can be part of an overall balanced lifestyle.