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Starbucks can be a great place to go to get caffeinated in a relaxing environment. When I worked near a Starbucks, I became a morning regular and gladly paid the $3-5 for a cup (or 2) of energy on the go every day. Having kids makes you more in tune with your budget, and you begin to realize that you are also capable of making a delicious coffee at home.
But, I still enjoy hitting up Starbucks a few times a month where I can sit in a leather chair, with some educational books beside me, and sip a cup of coffee that someone else made for me.
As a parent, we teach by example, so my kids have learned the dopamine rush that a trip to Starbucks can bring. They already run circles around me energy-wise, so I like to keep the caffeine in only my cup. In my single days, I thought that the words “caffeine-free” and “Starbucks drink” were mutually exclusive, but it turns out that there are several kid-friendly drinks on the menu.
I’ve put together a list of 15 Starbucks drinks that a child should enjoy and listed the sugar and caffeine content for each based on a tall-sized cup (12 fl oz). I ranked them based on sugar content and prioritized drinks with no caffeine first. I also included whether or not it comes with a topping, because, I don’t know about your kids, but my kids get hyped about a drink with toppings.
|Drink Name||Sugar (g)||Caffeine (mg)||Topping Yes/No|
|Hot Herbal Teas||0||0||No|
|Iced Golden Ginger Drink||14||0||No|
|Iced Guava Passionfruit Drink||25||0||No|
|Blended Strawberry Lemonade||31||0||No|
|Strawberry Crème Frappuccino® Blended Beverage||32||0||Yes|
|Caramel Ribbon Crunch Crème Frappuccino® Blended Beverage||33||0||Yes|
|Vanilla Bean Frappuccino||35||0||Yes|
|White Hot Chocolate||41||0||Yes|
|Caramel Apple Spice||54||0||Yes|
|Pike Place Decaf||0||20||No|
|The Kid’s Hot Chocolate (8oz)||18||15||Yes|
15 Kid-friendly Starbucks drinks
1. Babyccino (Shot size)
0g sugar, 0g Caffeine, Optional topping: cocoa powder
So I knew Starbucks offered a “puppuccino” for dogs, but I only recently realized they have a similar offer for kids. The “babyccino” is like a cappuccino but without the espresso. Essentially it is warm, frothy milk served up in an espresso cup.
The barista may sometimes top it with cocoa powder for a bit of added flavor, or allow you to fix it as you desire at the coffee condiment bar.
This drink is often offered free of charge and can be a perfect drink for little ones as you train them in the Starbucks ways.
2. Herbal tea
0g sugar, 0g Caffeine, No topping
Herbal teas are a safe bet for kids as they don’t contain sugar or caffeine. These drinks are also listed on many vegan websites as good choices for vegans!
If you have not yet introduced sugar to your child’s diet these herbal teas, or if your child has milk allergies, these drinks can be tasty and do not contain sugar, caffeine, or milk.
The two hot tea flavor choices listed on the Starbucks menu are Mint Majesty or Peach Tranquility. An iced herbal tea option is the Iced Passion Tango.
3. Iced Golden Ginger Drink
14g sugar, 0g caffeine, No topping
The Iced Golden Ginger Drink could be an acquired taste for children. But then, some kids love spicier flavors than others. I decided to include it on the kid-friendly list because it is one of the lowest in sugar content and it is also caffeine-free.
This drink is a golden ginger blend with a hint of turmeric which is shaken with pineapple and ginger flavors and coconut milk. This concoction is poured over ice to create a drink that is certainly out of the ordinary.
The coconut milk serves to blend this combination of flavors into a drink that you have to take a few sips before thinking, “I’m pretty sure I like it.” I get the sense that whether a kid loves or hates this drink, their opinion about an Iced Golden Ginger Drink will be a strong one!
Kids who choose to eat salsa on their breakfast may also enjoy the spicy zing and zang of this unique drink.
4. Iced Guava Passionfruit Drink
25g sugar, 0g caffeine, No topping
The Iced Guava Passionfruit Drink is a refreshing drink for kids that enjoy spicier flavors.
In this drink, Guava juice infused with passionfruit flavors is handshaken with 3 pumps of pineapple-ginger syrup and coconut. This drink can light up the taste buds with a bit of sour, a bit of sweet, and a spicy bite to finish it off.
It can also be fun to watch the barista shake and make this drink!
5. Purple Drink
27g sugar, 0g caffeine, Topping: Blackberries
The Purple Drink is off the Starbucks secret menu and, unlike the pink drink, it is caffeine-free. Drinks on the secret menu are not officially Starbucks drinks but most were thought up by former baristas. They were thought to be so good, that they wrote down the recipe and posted them online for others to try.
Kids can have fun going off the menu and finding some new, exciting flavors. Other secret menu drinks include Butter Beer Frappuccino, Cotton Candy Frappuccino, and the Lucky Charms Frappuccino.
You will need to tell the barista the recipe to make a secret drink. But, the Purple Drink has become so popular on Instagram and other sites, there is a good chance that your barista may know this recipe from the top of their head!
This drink is made with passion iced tea, soy milk, vanilla syrup, and topped with blackberries. Many choose to use coconut milk in place of soy milk for a more lavender purple color. With 3 pumps of vanilla syrup, this drink should contain about 27g of sugar.
The Purple Drink does not contain caffeine and is not to be confused with the Starbucks official “Violet Drink” which is a different recipe and does contain caffeine.
This is a refreshing drink that we can’t get enough of!
6. Vanilla Steamer
29g sugar, 0g caffeine, Topping: Whipped cream
The vanilla steamer is much less sweet than the white hot chocolate and contains no caffeine. This can be a good choice for kids. The tall size includes 2 pumps of vanilla and the 2% milk is steamed to perfection, then topped with whipped cream.
After you drink a vanilla steamer, you really just want to find a warm corner with a fluffy pillow to lay down and take a nap. If you landed one of those comfy armchairs that every Starbucks seems to have, beware, because you may begin nodding off!
I personally prefer the lighter taste and frothy texture of this drink to the richer, sweeter hot chocolate drinks.
7. Blended Strawberry Lemonade
31g sugar, 0g caffeine, No topping
This concoction sounds like a midsummer night’s dream! In a Starbucks blended strawberry lemonade, a lemonade base is sweetened with creme frappuccino syrup and infused with strawberry puree sauce (which contains real strawberries!). It is then blended with ice to create a chilled drink with a smoothie-like texture.
So on those scorching hot days when you’d rather stick your finger in your eye than drink something hot, this can be a nice refreshing choice!
Since this drink is mixed with strawberry puree, it will be gentler on the taste buds than a traditional lemonade. If a child already is a lemonade fan, this drink will be right up his/her alley! Even kids that wouldn’t usually choose a lemonade may be won over by this fresh drink.
A blended strawberry lemonade can be a perfect choice for kids and adults alike on a hot summer day.
Another lemonade you can try is the Iced Passion Tango® Tea Lemonade.
8. Strawberry Crème Frappuccino® Blended Beverage
32g sugar, 0g caffeine, Topping: Whipped cream
The Strawberry Creme Frappuccino Blended Beverage is a light, fruity drink choice for kids. A splash of strawberry puree is the first thing to hit the cup. Then it is filled with blended whole milk, strawberry puree, and ice and topped off with vanilla whipped cream.
The final product is a creamy, dreamy drink that a child should love.
The strawberry puree swirls are aesthetically pleasing, as well.
9. Caramel Ribbon Crunch Crème Frappuccino® Blended Beverage
33g sugar, 0g caffeine, Topping: Whipped cream, caramel crunch topping, caramel drizzle
The Caramel Ribbon Crunch Creme Frappuccino is a great option for the kid who delights in caramel flavors. From the 4 pumps of dark caramel sauce to the caramel crunch topping and caramel drizzle, this drink packs in all the caramel!
This should certainly satisfy the sweet tooth of your child. Although in reality, the vanilla bean frappuccino is the sweeter drink, to me this one actually tastes sweeter, because, well, it’s just so caramel-y.
Still, I would order this drink for the caramel crunch topping alone! … Then let my kids drink the rest of it.
10. Vanilla Bean Frappuccino
35g sugar, 0g Caffeine, Topping: Whipped cream
The vanilla bean creme frappuccino taste like blended ice cream in a cup! This drink is made with whole milk and 2 scoops of vanilla bean powder. It is then sweetened with creme frappuccino syrup, blended with ice, and topped with whipped cream.
This creamy drink can be a great way to cool off and enjoy something that tastes like ice cream but is drinkable.
For adults, try asking for a shot of espresso poured over this concoction for an Italian affogato flair. You will not be disappointed!
11. White Hot Chocolate
41g sugar, 0g caffeine, Topping: Whipped cream
This is my son’s go-to Starbucks drink. What it lacks in caffeine it makes up for in sugar. This is one of the sweetest kid-friendly drinks available, which may be why it is his favorite.
White hot chocolate is made with steamed milk and white chocolate sauce with a topping of whipped cream.
Although it is a little sweet for my taste, I can agree that it is pretty creamy and yummy… also the milk mustache kids get with this one is pretty adorable.
12. Caramel Apple Spice
54g sugar, 0g caffeine, Topping: Whipped cream and caramel drizzle
The caramel apple spice can be the kid-friendly version of the pumpkin spice latte that adults seem to go crazy over every fall. This drink actually tastes like fall in a cup and contains no caffeine. The sugar presence is certainly strong with this one, however, racking up 54g in a tall-sized cup.
Instead of using milk for the base, this drink uses steamed apple juice. The caramel apple spice drink then goes all in and uses 3 pumps of caramel dolce syrup to sweeten an already sweet cup of juice. It is then topped off with whipped cream and caramel drizzle.
While no one can deny that this combination of tastes was inspired, I would be a little hesitant to unnecessarily pump my kid up with that much sugar in one sitting.
The good news is that while extra pumps are at extra cost, asking the barista to tame it down by one or two pumps is always free.
Drinks that Contain Caffeine but are still Considered
13. Pike Place Decaf
0g sugar, 20mg caffeine , No topping
Ahh the decaf coffee! This can be a fun way for kids to throw in with the grownups and drink coffee.
While many believe that decaf coffee contains no caffeine, it actually retains some relics from its former life in a few mg of caffeine. For example, the tall-sized Pike Place Decaf coffee contains the same amount of caffeine as a Starbucks tall hot chocolate. So, it may not be the best choice for a two-year-old, but it also isn’t a drink that has a significant amount of buzz to it.
No sugar is added to this drink, but many kids who choose to drink a decaf will probably want to add milk and sugar to their drink at the coffee bar.
This can be a way to allow kids to feel grown-up, but still limit the caffeine intake to a minimum.
14. The Kid’s Hot Chocolate (8oz)
18g sugar, 15mg caffeine, Topping: Whipped cream, and mocha drizzle
You can also choose to order a “kid’s hot chocolate,” which comes in a short cup (8 oz), and is heated to 130 degrees. It comes with only 2 pumps of mocha syrup, instead of the classic version, which has 3 pumps.
This kids’ drink also has only 15 mg of caffeine but still has all the toppings to make your kid smile.
15. Hot Chocolate
27g sugar, 20 mg caffeine, Topping: Whipped cream, and mocha drizzle
Starbucks’ regular hot chocolate has considerably less sugar than the white chocolate version. But, it is also made with mocha sauce, which contains some caffeine.
For a point of reference, a shot of espresso has 150 mg of caffeine, while a standard bar of chocolate (100g size) has 43 mg of caffeine. So, if your child has already started eating chocolate, a regular hot chocolate should give them about half the buzz they would get from a bar of chocolate.
The white hot chocolate tends to have a creamier taste, while the hot chocolate is a perfect treat for chocolate lovers.
The Sweetest Drink on the List vs. No Sugar Drinks
The sweetest drink award on our list goes to the Caramel Apple Spice with 54g of sugar to a tall sized cup. This drink is sure to leave your kid sugar happy.
Drinks that are served with no sugar are the babyccino, and hot herbal teas.
You can also choose to ask for less pumps of sugar or sugar-free syrups if you wish to limit your child’s sugar intake.
Vegan-friendly Kids Drinks
The Purple Drink, Iced Golden Ginger Drink, and herbal teas have been found on many Vegan websites to be not only kid-friendly, but also vegan friendly. Even chocolate milk can become a vegan drink by choosing soy milk, coconut milk, and asking for vegan-friendly chocolate syrup. These drinks can be good choices for vegans or children with milk allergies.
Beware of the Sneaky Caffeine Drinks
Some of the drinks that you think wouldn’t have caffeine in them actually do. For example, there is a Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino® Blended Beverage with caffeine, and one without. When ordering, you should clarify which one you are wanting because the name on the menu could mean either drink.
Many frappuccinos have caffeine, and most will include a name like “java” or “mocha” in the title to clue you in (but not all). There are also many kid-friendly frappuccinos on the menu, as well.
Many tea-based drinks also contain caffeine. Some like the Emperor’s Clouds and Mist green tea drink can have as little as 1mg of caffeine, while other teas, such as the Chai Tea Latte will contain 70mg of caffeine for a tall size drink.
The Starbucks Refreshers, and Refresher Lemonades also contain caffeine. Most tall size refreshers contain about 35mg of caffeine, which is more than a hot chocolate but still significantly less than a chai latte.
For kids who like to order the same thing as their parents, you can make almost any drink on the menu kid-friendly by asking the barista to cut the shot of espresso.
A run to Starbucks can be a fun way to relax, put the phones away, and enjoy some valuable one-on-one time with your kids. When ordering, it’s always wise to make sure you are drinking more caffeine and sugar than your child is so you can keep pace with them after you leave!
In all seriousness, though, this list was an eye-opener for me at how much sugar is in some kiddie-drinks. …I’m thinking we can cut back a pump in that white hot chocolate.
Starbucks doesn’t necessarily need to be daily fare, but it is a nice place to treat your kids and yourself to some fun drinks once in a while. We hope this list helps you navigate the menu to find the best drink choices for your kids.
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