How much sugar is in a tall caramel macchiato?

A tall caramel macchiato from Starbucks contains a significant amount of added sugar. The exact amount can vary based on customizations, but a standard tall size made with 2% milk contains approximately 25g of sugar according to Starbucks’ nutrition information.

What is a Caramel Macchiato?

A caramel macchiato is a coffee drink made by Starbucks consisting of espresso shots topped with vanilla-flavored steamed milk and finished with a crosshatch drizzle of caramel sauce. It contains no chocolate despite the misleading name that sounds similar to “mocha.”

The standard recipe calls for:

  • 2 shots of espresso
  • Steamed 2% milk
  • Vanilla syrup
  • Caramel drizzle crosshatch

The regular size is a “tall” 12 oz drink. Starbucks also serves larger 16 oz “grande” and 20 oz “venti” sizes with correspondingly more ingredients.

Nutritional Information

The nutrition facts for a tall caramel macchiato with 2% milk are:

  • Calories: 250
  • Total Fat: 8 g
  • Saturated Fat: 4.5 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 15 mg
  • Sodium: 150 mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 39 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 0 g
  • Total Sugars: 25 g
  • Protein: 11 g

As you can see, the drink contains 25g of total sugar in a tall size. This is equivalent to about 6 tsp or 3 individual sugar packets. The majority of the sugar comes from the vanilla syrup and caramel sauce.

Daily Recommended Sugar Intake

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the maximum amount of added sugars you should eat in a day are:

  • Men: 150 calories per day (about 9 tsp or 36g of sugar)
  • Women: 100 calories per day (about 6 tsp or 24g of sugar)

This recommendation is based on getting no more than 100-150 calories from added sweeteners to limit empty calories. So a tall caramel macchiato would provide about 25% of the daily recommended limit for men and 42% for women.

Consuming too much added sugar from drinks like specialty coffee beverages can increase your risk for:

  • Weight gain – Since sugar has calories but little nutritional value.
  • Diabetes – By spiking your blood sugar and insulin levels.
  • Heart disease – By negatively impacting cholesterol, blood pressure, and inflammation.

Sugar Content of Other Starbucks Drinks

How does the sugar content of a caramel macchiato compare to other popular Starbucks beverages?

Here’s a comparison of the total sugar in a tall size of some of Starbucks’ top drinks:

Beverage Total Sugar (g)
Caffé Mocha 25
White Chocolate Mocha 35
Caramel Macchiato 25
Pumpkin Spice Latte 34
Caffé Vanilla Frappuccino 45
Java Chip Frappuccino 51
Strawberries & Crème Frappuccino 51

As you can see, frozen blended drinks like frappuccinos tend to be highest in sugar, with some containing over 50g per serving! So while the caramel macchiato is high in sugar, it has less than many other popular drinks.

Tips for Ordering a Lower Sugar Caramel Macchiato

If you want to cut down on the sugar content of your caramel macchiato, here are some tips:

  • Order a smaller size – the tall has 7g less sugar than the grande and 12g less than venti
  • Request less pumps of vanilla syrup – standard is 2 for tall, 3 for grande, 4 for venti
  • Use nonfat or skim milk – to save 35 calories and 1.5g fat per serving
  • Ask for half the usual amount of caramel drizzle
  • Substitute sugar-free vanilla and caramel syrups
  • Add a shot of espresso for more caffeine without extra sugar

Substituting the flavored syrups for sugar-free versions make the biggest impact, reducing sugar by about 20g. But simply ordering a smaller size, less syrup, and easy on the caramel drizzle can also add up to meaningful sugar savings.

Making Your Own Lower Sugar Caramel Macchiato

You can also make a homemade version with far less sugar using these easy steps:

  1. Brew 2 shots of espresso or strongly brewed coffee
  2. Heat 1 cup of nonfat milk until steaming
  3. Add 1 tablespoon of sugar-free vanilla syrup
  4. Froth the milk with a milk frother or small whisk
  5. Add espresso and steamed milk to a glass
  6. Top with a sugar-free caramel sauce

This will provide the delicious flavors with only about 2g of sugar depending on the type of milk and sugar-free syrups used. You can also adjust the amount of syrup and caramel to taste.


A tall Starbucks caramel macchiato contains around 25g of sugar, which is about 6 teaspoons worth. This provides a significant amount of added sugar in one drink.

To reduce the sugar content, request modifications like less syrup, nonfat milk, and half the caramel drizzle. Or better yet, create your own lower sugar version at home where you control all the ingredients.

Limiting your intake of sugar-sweetened beverages like specialty coffee drinks is important for maintaining good health and preventing chronic disease. Make sure your daily consumption stays within the recommended limits for added sugars.

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