Tired of dropping $4 to $5 on a Mocha Frappuccino at Starbucks? We have some good news: The ready-to-drink options available at the supermarket are a lot easier on the wallet—and some of them are pretty tasty, too. Several of the brands we evaluated tout protein or lower-calorie content on their labels, but those claims don’t always tell the whole story. Here’s what we found from a close look at eight supermarket mocha coffee drinks:
The calories in these drinks—up to 180 in 9½ ounces—predominantly come from milk (or cream) and sugar. In some cases, you’d get almost as much of the sweet stuff as you would in a can of soda. For instance, a 12-ounce can of cola has 40 grams of sugars. A 9½-ounce bottle of Starbucks Frappuccino Mocha has 31 grams, or almost 8 teaspoons. Even if you take the natural sugars in milk into account, you’re still getting approximately 6 teaspoons of added sugar in the coffee drink. There are lower-sugar options that hover around 100 calories; some of them contained artificial sweeteners.
Starbucks Frappuccino Mocha, Starbucks Frappuccino Mocha Light, and Bolthouse Farms Mocha Cappuccino supplied at least 20 percent of your daily needs for calcium. Bolthouse boasts that its product has 7 grams of protein, but that hardly gives it an advantage over the others; most range from 3 to 6 grams per serving. Plus it’s packed with 28 grams of sugars. By comparison, a 3½-ounce container of Chobani Bite coffee with dark chocolate chips Greek yogurt has 8 grams of protein and 12 grams of sugars. (Check our earlier review of Greek yogurts.)
Bottom line. There’s no need to spend more at a coffee chain to satisfy your iced-java craving. And if you choose carefully, you won’t do too much damage to your waistline, either. Starbucks Discoveries Caffè Mocha rated Very Good and has just 120 calories. International Delight Iced Coffee Mocha Light is the least expensive and received a Good rating.
Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the August 2014 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.