How much sugar is in Dunkin brown sugar cold brew?

Dunkin’s brown sugar cold brew has emerged as one of the most popular menu items thanks to its sweet, smooth, and energizing flavor. But with its sugary taste, many health-conscious customers wonder just how much sugar is packed into Dunkin’s chilled coffee drink.

The Basics of Dunkin’s Brown Sugar Cold Brew

Dunkin’s brown sugar cold brew starts with the chain’s classic cold brew coffee, which is steeped for a smooth, less acidic flavor. To this, they add brown sugar syrup and top it off with either nonfat milk or sweetened nonfat milk, depending on size and customization.

The brown sugar syrup is the key ingredient providing the signature sweetness. Dunkin uses two proprietary brown sugar syrups – light and dark. The light brown sugar syrup contains high fructose corn syrup, natural and artificial flavors, potassium sorbate as a preservative, and sulfiting agents. The dark brown sugar contains those same ingredients along with caramel color added for a deeper hue.

Sugar Content by Size

The amount of added sugar in Dunkin’s brown sugar cold brew depends on the size ordered. Like most of the menu, customers can choose from small, medium, large, and extra large cold cup sizes. Bigger sizes mean more coffee, more brown sugar syrup pumps, and more milk – increasing the sugar content.

Here is an overview of the total added sugar in each standard size of Dunkin’ brown sugar cold brew:

Size Added Sugar (grams)
Small (10 oz) 9
Medium (14 oz) 12
Large (20 oz) 18
Extra Large (24 oz) 22

As you can see, a small cold brew has 9 grams of added sugar, while an extra large can have over double at 22 grams. For reference, the American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugar intake to no more than 25 grams per day for women and 36 grams per day for men.

Customization Options

The standard sweetness and sugar content of Dunkin’s brown sugar cold brew can change significantly depending on customization. Customers have a few choices to reduce sugar or boost it even higher.

Nonfat vs Sweetened Nonfat Milk

One of the biggest factors is the choice between nonfat milk and sweetened nonfat milk. Dunkin’s sweetened milk contains added sugar, increasing the overall sugar content while the plain nonfat milk does not.

Opting for nonfat instead of sweetened nonfat milk reduces the grams of added sugar by about 3-4 grams on a medium cold brew. For example, a medium with sweetened milk has 12 grams of sugar, while the same size made with nonfat milk has just 8 grams of added sugar.

Fewer vs More Pumps of Syrup

Customers can also request to add extra pumps of brown sugar syrup for a sweeter cold brew, or reduce pumps for a less sugary version. The standard is 3, 4, 6, and 7 pumps of syrup for small, medium, large, and extra large, respectively.

Adding pumps beyond the standard amount can tack on 3 more grams of added sugar per pump. Removing pumps reduces sugar by about the same amount per pump. Ordering just 1 or 2 pumps even in a large cold brew really cuts the added sugar compared to the 6 pump standard.

Added Flavors

Choosing added flavors like caramel, mocha, or pumpkin also increases the sugar content by around 2 grams per pump of syrup. Some flavors like white chocolate and French vanilla contain more. It’s best to ask for no more than 1-2 pumps of flavor to prevent spiking the sugar too high.

How Dunkin’s Brown Sugar Cold Brew Compares

Dunkin’s brown sugar cold brew has more added sugar than their regular cold brew or iced coffee, which contain 0-4 grams depending on size and customization. But it contains less sugar than many of the chain’s other signature drinks.

For example, a medium caramel craze iced coffee has 42 grams of added sugar. A medium frozen caramel coffee coolata has 61 grams of added sugar. And a medium java chip frappuccino has 67 grams of added sugar. Compared to those indulgent coffee-based beverages, Dunkin’s brown sugar cold brew looks like a healthier option.

Compared to other popular coffee drinks from Starbucks and other chains, Dunkin’s cold brew is around average in terms of added sugars. A 16oz Starbucks caramel frappuccino has 50 grams of sugar, while their bottled cold brew black has 0 grams. Many specialty coffee-based beverages at chains like Starbucks, Peet’s, and Caribou contain at least 30-60 grams of added sugar. So Dunkin’s range of 9-22 grams per cold brew is comparatively under control.

How Much Added Sugar Per Day?

To put Dunkin’s brown sugar cold brew sugar content into context of daily recommended limits, here’s a look at how one drink fits into the total:

  • Women: 25 grams added sugar limit per day
  • Men: 36 grams per day

One small brown sugar cold brew (9 grams sugar) would provide 36% of a woman’s daily added sugar amount and 25% for a man.

A medium (12 grams) would contribute nearly half (48%) of a woman’s recommended limit and a third (33%) of a man’s.

And an extra large with the maximum sugar pumps (up to 28 grams) would take a woman over her daily limit just from that one drink.

While Dunkin’s brown sugar cold brew has less sugar than many of the chain’s ultra-sweet blended and specialty beverages, it can still pack a hefty punch of added sugars into one drink. Having it occasionally as a treat is fine, but limiting size and customization and avoiding daily consumption is best for controlling added sugar intake.

Tips for Ordering a Less Sugary Brown Sugar Cold Brew

If you want to enjoy the delicious brown sugar cold brew flavor while limiting added sugars, here are some tips for ordering:

  • Opt for the smallest size possible based on your needs
  • Request nonfat milk instead of sweetened nonfat milk
  • Ask for less pumps of brown sugar syrup than the standard amount
  • Limit additional flavors to no more than 1-2 pumps
  • Request no whipped cream on top
  • Ask about sugar-free syrup options if available
  • Try it with standard cold brew instead for minimal sugar

You can also consider making your own lower sugar version at home by adding a dash of brown sugar and milk to chilled black coffee or cold brew concentrate.

The Bottom Line

Dunkin’s brown sugar cold brew can contain anywhere from 9-22 grams of added sugar depending on size and customization choices. While it has less than some ultra-sweet coffee drinks, it still packs a significant amount of added sugar into one beverage. Enjoy Dunkin’s brown sugar cold brew in moderation as an occasional treat, and opt for smaller sizes with less sugary customizations to keep added sugars in check.

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