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Is caramel macchiato high in sugar?

Caramel macchiato is one of the most popular coffee drinks served at coffee shops like Starbucks. With its sweet caramel flavor and creamy texture, it has become a go-to drink for many coffee lovers. However, the sugary taste of caramel macchiato has left many wondering – just how much sugar does this addictive coffee drink contain?

In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at the sugar content of caramel macchiato and see if it really qualifies as a high sugar drink.

What is caramel macchiato?

Caramel macchiato is an espresso-based coffee drink made with steamed milk and vanilla-flavored syrup, marked by a crosshatch of drizzled caramel sauce on top. The standard recipe contains:

  • Espresso shots
  • Foamed or steamed milk
  • Vanilla syrup
  • Caramel drizzle

This combination of ingredients gives the caramel macchiato its sweet, yet slightly bitter taste. The espresso provides an intense coffee flavor, while the foamed milk makes it creamy. The vanilla syrup and caramel sauce add a distinct sweetness and aromatic flavor.

Caramel macchiato is different from latte and cappuccino in that it features a generous amount of caramel sauce and vanilla syrup, making it significantly sweeter. It contains less steamed milk compared to the other two.

The standard caramel macchiato recipe uses two shots of espresso, although the number of shots can be customized based on preference. The espresso shots are marked with the caramel drizzle in a signature crisscross pattern.

Nutritional information in caramel macchiato

Now let’s examine the nutritional contents of a typical caramel macchiato:

Nutrition Facts Grande (16 oz)
Calories 250
Total Fat 11g
Saturated Fat 8g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 40mg
Sodium 150mg
Total Carbohydrates 33g
Dietary Fiber 0g
Sugars 33g
Protein 9g

As you can see, a 16 oz Grande caramel macchiato from Starbucks contains 250 calories, with 33g of sugar. This is quite high, considering the daily recommended intake of added sugar for adult women is 25g and for adult men is 36g.

Amount of sugar in different sizes

It’s important to note that the sugar content can vary greatly depending on the cup size you order.

Here’s a breakdown of the sugar content in different Starbucks caramel macchiato sizes:

Size Sugar (g)
Tall (12 oz) 25
Grande (16 oz) 33
Venti (20 oz) 41

As you go up in sizes, the amount of added sugar increases significantly. A Venti can have up to 16g more sugar than a Tall. This is because larger sizes contain more vanilla syrup and caramel sauce.

How does it compare to other coffee drinks?

Compared to other popular coffeehouse drinks, caramel macchiato is on the higher end of the sugar spectrum. However, it’s not the worst either.

Here’s how it compares:

Drink (16 oz) Sugar (g)
Caramel macchiato 33
Caffe latte 9
Cappuccino 9
Americano 0
Iced caramel coffee 38
Java chip frappuccino 51
Caramel ribbon crunch 50

As you can see, while caramel macchiato has 33g of sugar, an iced caramel coffee or flavored frappuccino can have close to 40-50g in a 16 oz serving! So in comparison, caramel macchiato is on the lower end.

Drinks like americano and caffe latte have minimal sugar, thanks to the absence of any syrups or sauce.

Factors that influence sugar content

There are a few factors that determine just how much sugar goes into your caramel macchiato:

Type of milk

Using non-dairy milk alternatives like almond milk, coconut milk or soy milk won’t significantly alter the sugar content. However, opting for skimmed or low fat milk means cutting down on saturated fats.

Number of espresso shots

Adding extra espresso shots can slightly increase the calorie and sugar numbers, but not by much.

Whipped cream topping

Opting for whipped cream will add around 2g of sugar per serving. Not a significant increase, but it’s better to avoid it if watching your sugar intake.

Syrup pumps

Asking for extra pumps of vanilla or caramel syrup will drive up the sugar content with every additional pump. Go easy on the pumps if you want to limit sugar.

Cup size

As mentioned before, the cup size makes a big difference. The same drink recipe in a larger cup size means more caramel sauce, vanilla syrup and therefore, more sugar.

Ways to make caramel macchiato lower in sugar

If you love caramel macchiatos but want to keep the sugar content in check, you can request it to be made with the following tweaks:

  • Ask for less vanilla and caramel syrup pumps
  • Opt for sugar-free syrups
  • Go for a smaller cup size like Tall or Grande
  • Request no whipped cream topping
  • Use low-fat or skim milk
  • Ask for minimal caramel drizzle on top

These small customizations can help lower the amount of added sugars without compromising too much on the taste.

Sugar-free caramel macchiato

Some coffee shops will also allow you to customize your drink to be completely sugar-free by using:

  • Sugar free or skinny caramel and vanilla syrups
  • Non-dairy milk like unsweetened almond milk
  • No whipped cream
  • Sugar-free caramel drizzle

While not exactly the same, a sugar-free version can be an ideal choice for diabetics or those on low-carb or Paleo diets.

Should you avoid caramel macchiato if you’re concerned about sugar?

Caramel macchiato definitely sits on the higher end of the spectrum when it comes to sugar content in coffee drinks. The standard recipe can easily deliver more than the daily recommended sugar intake in just one 16 oz serving.

However, ordering a Tall size or customizing your drink with lower sugar alternatives can help control your intake. If you limit yourself to an occasional small-sized caramel macchiato, then you may not need to eliminate it altogether.

But if you’re highly concerned about sugar for health reasons, it may be wise to avoid caramel macchiatos or opt for an artificially sweetened version instead. Drinks like americano or plain cappuccino make for lower sugar alternatives.

The bottom line

Caramel macchiatos contain significant amounts of added sugar, especially in the larger cup sizes. A Grande has 33g of sugar, which exceeds the daily recommended intake for women. Customizing your drink with lower sugar options or limiting intake to occasionally can help mitigate this.

Overall, caramel macchiatos are high in sugar, but not the worst coffeehouse offenders out there. Being mindful of your choices and limiting intake is key if you want to enjoy this sweet coffee drink as part of a healthy diet.


Caramel macchiato has a reputation for being a high sugar drink, and for good reason. A 16 oz Grande contains 33g of sugar, which is more than the recommended daily limit for women. The amount of sugar spikes further with larger cup sizes.

In comparison to other coffee shop drinks, caramel macchiato lands on the higher end of the spectrum when it comes to sugar content. Drinks like flavored frappuccinos or iced caramel coffee tend to be higher.

You can request customizations like less syrup and caramel drizzle or opt for sugar-free syrups to reduce the total sugar count. Choosing smaller sizes like Tall is also an effective strategy. But in its original recipe, this sweet and creamy coffee drink packs quite a bit of sugar.

Being mindful of your intake and limiting to an occasional treat is best if you want to enjoy caramel macchiatos while keeping your sugar consumption in check.