BEWARE of Starbucks “Refreshers”

Starbucks Refreshers

Have you visited Starbucks lately? I’m there a lot, mainly because I have super slow satellite internet on the farm, so the high speed when I’m in town is nice. My weakness for a plain-whole milk-latte-with-whip is also a reason, but that’s another blog post.  And…another post should be on the fact that I get depressed every time I sit in the shop watching people, young and old, order drinks made completely of soy, nonfat “milk”, extra-extra-extra sweetener,   caramel,or whatever.  It’s so sad! At least my drink of choice is somewhat related to real food.

Are starbucks refreshers healthy?

Starbucks has recently introduced a new “energy” drink.  You wouldn’t believe how much they push this product.  Sitting in the shop for an hour, I watched every single customer being offered this “new awesome drink, derived from green coffee beans- so it doesn’t taste like coffee!”  They have coupons, samples, a full product line with related products, and beautiful store display to promote the drink.  There are beautifully crafted signs all over the store, using words like “natural” and “fresh”.  The product colors entice you with bright, summery pinks, oranges and greens.  You can purchase little cans of the drinks (in the store and at super markets, Targets, Walmarts, etc.) or order the barista version in the store.  In the store there’s a “very berry hibiscus” flavor and “cool lime”.  The barista version even includes a few little actual berries!  Sounds nice, right?

You get the feeling that these drinks are an light and uplifting alternative to the rest of the Starbucks menu.  Their marketing is great…people come out of the heat into the air-conditioned shop and see the bright, refreshing colors of a lemonade-like option instead of drab, brown coffee options.  But buyer…BEWARE!

“Refreshers” Canned

What is the “Refresher”? It seems to me that Starbucks has produced yet another processed energy drink.  In other words, a NON-FOOD product. Maybe it’s a little better than Monster or Red Bull, but how much better?

I guess you could say it’s better because it has some “natural” stuff in it- like ginseng, fruit juice, stevia instead of added sugar and “vitamins”.  For me, the amount of sugar turns me off, but that may not be so much of an issue for those looking for a little sweet treat.  (By the way, I did ask the employee how they made the barista version of the drink, and they said they have a base mix that they add water, ice and the berries to.  That’s all she could tell me.  You can conclude that the ingredients in the shop version are the same as the canned version…maybe even more concentrated.)

Ingredients List

Nutritional Facts

My problem with the Refreshers is mainly the fact that it is a caffeine-concentrated drink that is not being advertised as what it is.  Can you imagine how many moms probably think this is an innocent “natural” juice drink and give it to their little ones?  Yikes!  I also do not like the chemical additives and synthetic (chemical) vitamins- but I’ll leave that alone because it is what it is.

Starbucks does not clearly state how much caffeine is in the refresher drinks, except for the milligram amount of “Panax Ginseng” (which means pretty much nothing to most people). But if you know how to interpret the ingredients, you might have a better idea of what this stuff is actually made of.

The main “energy” ingredients are green coffee bean extract, ginseng root powder concentrate and synthetic B-vitamins. Sure, these things are “natural” (except the vitamins), but that doesn’t mean they are good for you.

Green coffee beans mean they are not roasted at all. The roasting process is what gives us the different depths of flavor in coffee roasted at different levels. The more you roast coffee beans, the LOWER the amount of caffeine.  So that means that if coffee is brewed at an even grind size, then dark roast or espresso roast actually has less caffeine than a mildly roasted bean.  So an unroasted bean will have the MOST caffeine! Turn that into an “extract”, and you have a lot of caffeine.

Next is the ginseng root powder extract and b-vitamins.  Both of these things could be considered nature’s energy boosters, but when concentrated, these components can cause sudden and extreme adrenal stimulation (artificial energy), which can be just as bad as a sudden load of caffeine.  What’s wrong with a sudden load of caffeine?  Well, it can stress the adrenal glands which causes irritability, stress, headaches, anxiety, shakiness, and many other symptoms.  A dependence on caffeine (or addiction) can lead to chronic adrenal fatigue and dysfunction, which can lead to weight gain and a myriad of other health problems.  You may not experience any of these symptoms, but if you can’t live without caffeine or energy boosters, then I believe you have a problem that will probably manifest as a more serious problem later.

So I say “Skip the Refresher!” Don’t even think about giving it to your kids! Sure, it’s probably a much better choice than the horrendous other drinks on the menu- mind-blowingly full of sugar, caffeine, and who knows what. But this is just a reminder to read ingredients and ASK what’s in something before you buy it.  If you’re going to get something at Starbucks, I do recommend getting something simple- like an iced passion tea (a deliciously fruity herbal tea) or a plain espresso/milk drink like a latte with no added syrup flavorings.  (Don’t forget, this option will still have a considerable amount of caffeine, but will actually have LESS caffeine than a full cup of plain coffee. You could go for decaf, but there is a lot of chemical processing involved to decaffeinate coffee beans. The fat from whole milk will offset the impact on the adrenal glands from the caffeine and small amount of sugar.) If you have to have the sweetener (which I highly suggest you retrain yourself to not need the sugar- I’ll tell you how to successfully do this in a future post), then ask for half a shot of the sweetener instead of the standard 2-3 shots they add. Don’t forget that all the sweeteners are syrups, made mainly of high fructose corn syrup and chemical “flavors”.

Have you been misled by the Starbucks Refreshers?

*Update: As of this writing, the Starbucks official website does not offer the nutritional information online for the barista version of the Refresher.

84 Comments on “BEWARE of Starbucks “Refreshers”

  1. This drink is actually far better for you than other star buck alternatives, It has green coffee extract which is coffee in its raw form which contains a lot of anti oxidants not to mention a lot less caffeine than its roasted brethren, THen the drink itself is 60 calories per serving when the more sugary items like the caramel macchiato can go to 1k in calories, When the wife and I go to Star bucks I can now get something that I enjoy and feel a lot less guilty for than when I used to get a mocha frappuccino, The canned version which I have been drinking when I need a pick me up has been a great alternative than the monster,red bull energy drinks especially since refresher doesn’t contain all that crap that those drinks contain even with the sugar free variations, The great thing about the refresher is no jitteriness or on edge feeling that monster gives you. Anyways I enjoy it and welcome it to the menu.

    • Yea, That is what I choose the refresher for I need a bit of a buzz in the morning to get my going, but not too much, the refresher is a great alternative to those Monster Energy drinks which make you feel TERRIBLE. I just couldn’t take this article seriously, she really doesn’t seem to know how much sugar is packed in your average commercial energy drink, it ranges from about 48 to 64 grams.

  2. “Green coffee beans mean they are not roasted at all. The roasting process is what gives us the different depths of flavor in coffee roasted at different levels. The more you roast coffee beans, the LOWER the amount of caffeine. ”

    So vry far from the truth, Post actual facts when claiming something to be truth.

    With only 20 mg of caffeine per serving, compared to a minimum of 100 mg for a good cup of coffee, green coffee bean extract doesn’t work by making you nervous and jittery, like roasted coffee or other caffeine based diet aids. Rather, the active ingredient, chlorogenic acid, works to inhibit the release of glucose in the body and increases the metabolic process in the liver.

    “the key to this incredible weight loss is not attributed to the caffeine. The green coffee bean supplement has only around 20 mg of caffeine per serving, whereas your daily cup of coffee has over 100 mg, (and your “venti drip” has as much as 400 mg). Green coffee bean is not a stimulant; it doesn’t make you jittery and nervous and raise your heart rate like roasted coffee or ephedra. In fact, the green coffee bean has actually shown in some studies to help lower blood pressure – while still boosting metabolism.”

    • Squidoo and Dr. Oz are not sources I would consider credible, and my statement you’ve quoted is, in fact, true. Dr. Oz is seeking to market a weight-loss product, completely unrelated to my points made here. The squidoo quote is bogus because the measured amount of caffeine used for comparison “per serving” is obsolete because “serving size” is arbitrary. The proper comparison would use equal amounts of beans, brewed at an equal grind size, and we have no idea if that is what occurred to make these statements. I’ve added this link to my text about the caffeine relation to roasting, but here is the (more reliable than yours) source:

      For any more comments like this, please pay attention to the purpose of my post, which is to make sure people know that they are buying a caffeinated drink with additional concentrated energy boosting components, which I believe are not suitable for children or others who must avoid caffeine and energy boosters for various reasons. I have discovered that many people believe it is an “all natural” herbal tea or juice drink, which is what many unassuming consumers think when sampling or purchasing this drink. If you understand what the Refresher is and want to drink it, then fine! My goal is to warn people who don’t understand.

  3. So timely for me. Just yesterday I went into a Starbucks while shopping and asked for the ingredients of the Refreshers. Just a bunch of fructose and caffeine. Yuck! I got my usual grande iced green tea unsweetened. Now that’s a refresher!

    • Do you realize that green iced tea has almost exactly the same amount of caffeine as the equivalent sized refresher? Also, it’s iced grande unsweetened green iced tea.

      • John, could you provide a source that offers how much caffeine is actually in the Refresher? At the time of this posting, this information was unavailable.

      • I was just looking up the caffeine content of different products because I am sensitive to caffeine. I have been opting for a drink that gives me a little caffeine in the morning (as I am a teacher) but not too much (I get migraines). I have been drinking ocean spray sparkling cranberry juice which has 55mg of caffeine, is 12% juice but no aspartame. The refresher has 50mg of caffeine. A tall cup of Starbucks brewed coffee has 260mg. I think 50mg isn’t that much at all. I am going to try the Refresher. I found this info posted on their website but I also found it on this website as well.

  4. You really have not researched this. I am not defending Starbuck’s, but you really need to know what you are talking about before making such strong statements that are not factual.

    • Ummmm…how so? The drink has caffeine. Many people go in there believing it is a healthy juice/herbal tea drink. I am trying to warn these people because the marketing for this product is deceiving, in my never-to-be-humble opinion. The starbucks website does not provide the amount of caffeine in this drink. The ingredient and nutrition labels are pictured in this post for you to see yourself. I am commenting on my knowledge about these ingredients (besides links to resourced information, I have educational credentials that I believe allow me to make these comments). Honestly, I think it’s ridiculous that people keep commenting on this post in this way without really providing a respectable argument. It’s like I offended your kids or something. I’m finding it strange…

      • I have to say I found this post incredibly helpful. I have been lying in bed since work with nearly crippling anxiety. I can not drink caffeine, and had no idea it was one of the ingredients in this drink. I also can not tolerate B6. How on earth was I supposed to know from a picture of what looked like hibiscus tea and black berries. I wish I had seen this post sooner. Thanks for posting it, I agree with Roz. The facts are close enough, we’re not researching cancer here, Roz is simply pointing out the dangers that lie in purchasing something without any information advertising what that product really is. And, for the people who say coffee is so much worse. I have NEVER had an issue like this from a cup of coffee. This is the worst “energy” I have ever consumed. Hoping to feel better in the morning.

  5. Calm down. They really aren’t that bad. I’m not the biggest fan of energy drinks because I think they taste awful, but these taste great! Plus, I’m not super hyper if I drink more than one. The best part is that the Dr. Oz thing is true! I looked into it beyond his claims, because I dropped 7 pounds within two weeks of starting to drink these. And I’ve been struggling with my weight for several years now, so if I find something that tastes good, doesn’t give me caffeine headaches or the jitters, and can give me a good boost while trying to get back to a healthy weight, then I’m not going to let a blogger who clearly didn’t do her research scare me off.

    Would I give this to a child? Probably not. But instead of scaring people into not getting it, gather ALL of the facts, and let people decide for themselves. I’m sipping on the orange melon one right now, because it’s far better than sipping on a soda. Especially when my job involves a lot of sitting.

  6. Upon further research, I have found that nowhere does Starbucks claim this beverage to be “all natural.” It says it has natural flavors and natural energy, bit it does not say “all natural.” I have also found that this drink has roughly a third of the caffeine of a Red Bull. There have been multiple studies on the benefits of green coffee bean extract, and one study made it into a leading journal for diabetes.

    I’d like to thank you. Your little rant made me look more into this drink, and I think I’ll be replacing my Diet Dr. Pepper with Starbucks Refreshers.

  7. The refreshers are most DEFINITELY advertised as ENERGY drinks which would OBVIOUSLY mean that they contain caffeine. are you really too distracted by the “bright colors” that you neglect to read the signs? And there is nothing wrong with soy or non fat milk beverages? Honestly in my opinion your “whole milk with whip latte” sounds disgusting to me. Do you have any idea what the fat content on that is?? ew. I’m not saying sugar is any better but whole milk topped off with heavy cream and sugar? fat on top of fat. That is not appealing to me. While I am a FIRM believer that sugar should be avoided and I stay away from fake sugar as well I also prefer not to load up on fat instead. I always get an iced green tea unsweet but that doesn’t mean I judge everyone that goes in and orders something that I personally wouldn’t. You’d never see me drinking a whole milk latte and i wouldn’t even go near the whip cream! But if thats what someone else is into thenn thats that. The soymilk that Starbucks uses is actually organic too but their milk isn’t so maybe you should check out the ingredients on the whole milk and take a look at the calorie and fat content too while you’re at it.

    • You have been misled on fat. Look up the results of the Framingham study. Ask a chemist to discuss the outcomes of all studies that *tried* to prove that fat is bad for you. Only long chain fatty acids and hydrogenated or oxidized (adulterated) fat molecules have been proven to lead to heart disease- not saturated fats. Obviously you aren’t a consistent reader here, so look around and connect with my other network bloggers ( I don’t have time to offer the “fat myth” stuff here.

      • Framingham study has been debunked countless times. Its a horrible study please never use that as a reference again. Thank you.

      • Rob, I am noting that the Framingham study was NOT credible. Thanks for (not) reading what I said.

    • And, to boot (to all you schmucks out there), I am an EDUCATED blogger. Get the education I have in physiology then argue with me on sugar/fat metabolism.

  8. Soy is milk derived from soy beans. Just milk isn’t derived from cows doesn’t mean it’s not *real* food. Besides why turn up your nose at a product that has the same amount of protein as cow’s milk and much less calories. And caramel has been around since the 17th century. (I googled history of caramel) What because it’s a processed food, albeit a process that’s been around since the 17th century, it’s not real food according to you? It’s not good enough food? Reading info on caramel, it’s basically caramelized sugar and water. Shame on all these people for eating such a terrible processed food product!

    “At least my drink of choice is somewhat related to real food.” Which you have completely neutralize your support in real food by topping your coffee drink with whipped cream. Which is a processed product.

    And while many processed foods is probably unhealthy to consume, there is absolutely no need to return to consuming whole milk and real sugar. There is completely no need and dangerous to try to get people to drink whole milk over nonfat milk and people can taste foods as sweet as they can with artificial sweeteners than be stuck harshly to one teaspoon of real sugar because real sugar just has too many calories.

    Hey just because you write something on the web doesn’t mean you always get yes ma’am I totally agree with your opinion.

    • Sienna, are you seriously suggesting that something that is processed and chemicals added, or something that is PURE chemicals is better for you that something that is completely natural? You have been drinking some serious kool-aid there, honey. A year ago, my health was crap. I was eating everything that the media said was good for me: diet soda, low carb food, margarine, low fat milk. My cholesterol was insane and I felt horrible. And a year later, my cholesterol is amazing (without meds), my body is losing weight (something drugs couldn’t make happen), and I’m feeling human again. How, you might ask? My doctor asked me the same thing. Guess what? I stopped eating processed JUNK. The only thing that comes into my house in a box is pasta. Sugar went from splenda to sugar from sugar cane (not beets!). I stopped watching the calories and started watching the artificial ingredients. Margarine doesn’t cross my lips. I cook in pure butter or olive oil. Period. My doctor was amazed. It’s amazing what happens when you feed your body real food, not poison. Did you know that aspartame processes into formaldehyde and formic acid when you digest it? Check out the research listed here: and tell me again how man-made, unnatural, chemical sweeteners are better for you?

      • Milk is not as healthy as before, because of all the crap they added like antibiotics and hormones. I stopped having acne problems when I stopped drinking milk. So if people think milk is natural and good, think again. It was probably before, but now.. hell no.

        What I don’t like about the article is that they don’t think for a minute about people who are lactose intolerant. Some people just take soy milk because they don’t have the choice when ordering at starbucks. Yes it’s probably full of sugar, but I don’t eat sugar usually so if it’s just in my coffee it’s not a bad think. The keyword here is moderation, that’s all.. ;)

      • Sandra, when I discuss milk on Real Food Family I am at all times discussing RAW MILK and I say so. You can learn more about the benefits of raw milk for lactose intolerance, acne and many others at We are in agreement about pasteurized milk- it is not a real food!

  9. You must seriously have a personal vendetta against Starbucks or something. It does it’s best to provide it’s customers with the most natural form of beverage, pastries, and foods possible. You realize that of all the chains out there, Starbucks is one of the most dedicated to supplying millions with relatively affordable food and beverage, when taking into account quality.

    In regard to your personal attack on them for their syrups, or means of sweetening beverages and foods, they do not use High Fructose Corn Syrup at all, even in their pastries, which don’t even have unnatural preservatives. Back to those syrups, they use SUGAR! There is no HFCS in them, period; the syrups are based on simple syrup recipe of sugar and water, granted for the flavors they do have other means of achieving them. I do agree with you on one thing, that sugar is not the best thing for us, however, our brains function purely on this molecule (C6H12O6). There exists no problem in Starbucks offering it, they have every right, it is up to the consumer to monitor what they put in their own bodies as fuel.

    Please don’t knock Starbucks, they are one of the most socially responsible companies in the U.S.

  10. Actually, that’s not true….to artist23. Many SBUX products have HFCS. Caramel sauce being one of the worst offenders. It’s true about the food though!

  11. ha! people are STILL defending starbucks. Even tho (whether the facts are EXACTLY on or not) you KNOW its still not good for you. Just makes me laugh at the comments that nik pick this or that. Starbucks still has you under thier power. Like any other chain. You want healthy? get your fix from whole foods. Dont you dare call starbucks a healthy choice. Its just so entertaining to me to read these SO far reaching comments trying to stand up for ‘starbucks’! WHY ARE YOU STILL STANDING UP FOR STARBUCKS?????? Like theyve ever done anything for you but take your hard earned money every day in exchange for something that may one day aid in your health problems. So blind. good luck guys.

    • Starbucks tastes good. People like it. What’s wrong with you?

  12. It’s choosing the lesser of two evils, Refresher’s or Redbull. I love both, but Refresher’s as you mentioned are definitely a lot “healthier” than Redbull. Any energy drinks out there are going to have something bad for you just like everything else in this world. So I say as long as you’re happy and healthy, drink what you want. :) Roz is simply giving his opinion and stating what he’s learned about this, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that whether we agree with him or not. When I started reading what Roz wrote about Refreshers I started out worried because well I just drank a Venti Cool Lime Refresher today. I don’t get the jitters, the energy is consistent throughout the day and I feel pretty good. At the end of the day it really doesn’t matter what’s in a drink. If you know what you’re drinking and you’re okay with that, then you should do as you wish! I will be drinking another Refresher tomorrow :) Thanks for your insight though Roz. It’s definitely information to keep in mind as I move forward with my energy drink consumption. The way I see it, if I develop issues that stemmed from me drinking Refreshers or any other energy drinks then it is my burden to carry. I won’t be one of those people that try to sue a company for products I made a choice to purchase knowing there’s information out there on what you’re getting in these drinks. Good stuff

    • Thanks Steve…except I’m a girl- haha! Good point…I wrote this post with the assumption that readers understand energy drinks are not healthy. If you choose to drink an energy drink, then that is your choice. Notice, I choose to drink energy drinks, too –> COFFEE (on occasion…and, well, tea every morning). My title says “BEWARE” because my observations in the store were that children, pregnant women and maybe nursing women were picking up those samples like it was a tea drink, not realizing it was a caffeinated drink and nothing was being done to stop it. Of course it’s not legally Starbucks’ job to tell people what’s in their drinks, especially if it’s caffeine in a coffee shop ;), BUT I think the ethical thing to do is advise children and pregnant women NOT to take the samples, or have a little sign that says “New herbal caffeinated energy drink”. No such warning was or is there…so I wrote this post! :)

  13. I tried the lemon lime refresher yesterday afternoon at my local Starbucks. I had no idea it contained so much caffeine!!! I laid awake all night, feeling as if bugs were crawling on me. Needless to say, I cannot handle huge amounts of this energy/high caffeine so called Refresher. I was not refreshed, I was WIRED!! Thumbs down to the Refreshers! Never again :(

    • I’m so sorry that happened to you Sandy. That helps me feel vindicated for what I’ve written in this post, even though so many people have tried to tell me I’m wrong. I’m glad you found my post on it!

  14. Thanks for the info, I just bought one at the gas station and was planning to try it, will wait until a morning when I can afford to be “wired” if it happens….I admit, the ingredients like “stevia” fooled me…and “green coffee” sounds so much like “green tea”…yikes!!!

  15. I have had the refreshers before in a can, they contain 50mg of caffeine for 12 oz less then a normal cup of drip coffee, never felt anything, pretty much like drinking a can of soda

  16. We can’t expect to be warned about everything that is bad for us. We need to use common sense and our own knowledge and intelligence to choose what we put in our bodies. Warnings lead to not thinking for ourselves and being misled.

    Creating a product and then marketing it as healthy or putting a warning on it is irresponsible- either way. Why? Because no one can judge for you what is below or at your standards for food consumption. We all have different and varying needs at different times in our lives. Some of us are heartier than others. It’s wonderful when we are encouraged to listen to our own bodies and tune into what is best for us at the time.

    Having a not so perfect drink with your friends on a beautiful sunny day is much better for the heart, soul, and mind (and therefore body! – since we are learning more and more that the two are not separate) than having a perfect drink I fear of what may happen if we consume “the wrong thing”.

    Health and Happiness to all,

  17. This is ridiculous; the Refreshers made by the Barista and the can version are NOT the same drink; one difference is that the canned version is carbonated and tastes nothing like the barista version.

  18. I’m looking at the can right now and it says that the caffeine content is 50mg per can.

    • Thanks for sharing. When I wrote this article there was no labeled amount either on the product or online.

  19. Roz I came across your blog by chance, because I wanted to find out more about this drink! I adhear to the Paloe diet as much as possible and love the results to my body, health, mind and overall well being! Mainly because it has taught me to care about what I put into my body! I just wanted to encourage you to keep doing what you are doing by helping people to live healthier or at least question their health! I wouldn’t waist much time trying to convince some people that it is important to ask questions and know what you put in your body hence your “beware” title! It’s just information you can take it or leave it, I choose to take it and say thank you!

    • Thanks so much, Stacey! I really appreciate your support, especially on this thread since there are so many trolls out to defend Starbucks and not-ideally-healthy food. Although I’m not Paleo, I post many grain-free options that focus on nourishing, whole foods with traditional preparations. Welcome to Real Food Family!

  20. there is only 80 mg of caffeine in a venti refresher..that’s about 10-20 mg LESS then an average cup of coffee….and they do advertise the energy (caffeine) in these.. at least they do at the Starbucks I’ve been to. Also, in a venti (thats 20oz) there are 21 grams of sugar while an average 8oz of 100% juice has about 29 grams of sugar which is significantly more than the refeshers. There is nothing wrong with this drink…even a tall almost has the same caffeine as a decaf coffee. Of course you wouldnt want to give an energy drink to a child because of the caffeine but they don’t false advertise it as juice either. Besides..who goes to Starbucks to get a young child a drink, at least in my Starbucks they do have juice boxes and organic milk boxes inside. PS Im in nursing so I know what I’m talking about.

    • still caffeine…which is my point. Not safe for pregnant women, children or anyone with adrenal disease. :)

      • then they will know not to drink it lol….

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  22. I totally support you! I love the argument “its better for you than…” LOL Smoking is better than shooting heroin..Ok yes but they both negatively impact your health… Stick with pure organic antioxidant rich green tea caffeine lovers or if you must 8oz of organic black coffee (or add a bit of coconut cream or raw honey if you need the sweet. But for the love of Jim, stop ingesting fake foods. Losing weight should not be the ultimate goal. Being HEALTHY! should be. Losing weight at the expense of adrenal exhaustion, blood sugar imbalances or insulin resistance is never a good idea. There are plenty of naturally occurring REAL foods that can provide you with a boost. Try adaptogenic herbs like ginseng, ashwagandha or as I mentioned before green tea. I just hate people succumbing to marketing schemes that could careless about your health and only want whats in your wallet!

  23. I got an email from starbucks advertising this drink. I had never heard of it. I am always suspicious of “natural” claims. They don’t lie but they say “made with”. I then checked and can confirm they don’t have the nutritional info for it in their PDF of such things, but I did find it going in from the main site and navigating around. It wasn’t very much info though. So I googled “Starbucks refresher ingredients”, and found this page. Very helpful, thank you. I am always irked by the marketing words used by MacDonalds and Tim Horton’s and now Starbucks for their smoothies or other fruity drinks. Particularly “made with natural”, bla bla bla. Designed to trick you without actually lying. It means there could be one atom of something natural in it. Look at the ingredients for MacDonalds smoothies. It’s practically made of sugar. And the kids See it on tv and pester me for them and don’t understand why I say no if it’s “natural”. They use your kids to guilt you into it.

  24. I just found this article after drinking a venti hibiscus. Holy cow! To say I feel wired is a huge understatement. And FYI, I can drink a cappuccino or a chai and not even flinch. This is INTENSELY caffeinated. I don’t buy the numbers on the website. Either that, or my body is more sensitive to the “green coffee extract” than plain old coffee or black tea.

  25. Caffeine sucks. Try eating right and exercising this will help you sleep more soundly and give you all the energy you need! Caffeine will keep you in a cycle of dependency by causing adrenal fatigue and interfering with sleep. Caffeine addicts will need to go through a process of withdrawal and recovery before consistent energy levels are achieved. This goes for sugar too. Rise up!

  26. I’m surprised that you say the amount of sugar turns you off. It has just as much sugar in it as sugar in whole milk (13g).

  27. Can someone tell me if this is extremely dangerous for pregnant women? I have only one can a day, and the rest of the day I drink strictly water! But I drink this opposed to the coffees or lattes thinking this is better.

  28. Roz,

    I have at least one cup of coffee a day, most days. I tried this Lime Refresher and searched online for the recipe because it is very refreshing and happened upon your blog that stated BEWARE Starbucks “Refresher” and thought, yeah right, this drink tastes great! Fifteen hours later, I am here to say that I have not slept AT ALL. This is very unusual for me as I sleep the moment I lay my head down. Bottom line, you are correct in warning others of the dangers of buying this drink, especially for children. I wish the girl at Starbucks had been a little more specific on the ingredients. I asked but she didn’t seem to be very knowledgeable.

    • Thanks for your story, Sylvia! It’s not only caffeine, but “natural” energy herbs and supplements are very effective for some people and maybe not for others. This is where the controversy comes from. Some people say there’s not problem, some (like you) testify of major problems. Just think- a pregnant woman may not have any reaction to the drink, but their innocent baby inside may have major problems detoxifying the drug. (Yes, caffeine is a drug.)

  29. Roz,
    My 11 year old went to Starbucks today with his buddies to get a refresher. I had no idea it is in reality an energy drink. My 11 year doesn’t drink caffeine at all and he is literally bouncing off the walls..OMG …he wont eat his dinner and is talking 100 mph. I just informed him thanks to your blog post no more refreshers for him. In my humble opinion this drink is not appropriate for children or anyone sensitive to caffeine. I agree it was heavily marketed as “healthy” and “natural” and unfortunately I did not do my due diligence. Thank you for your post.

    • Thank you for sharing Lisa! I hope your comment will encourage other parents to make the same wise decision!!

  30. On your September 17th 2012 it does look like you are using the Framington study as a reference but when I went back to it (I am not familiar with the Framington study results), it does look like you may possibly have been using is as an example of a bad study? Not sure which. Man though! This is a tough crowd! I have never seen anyone so completely chewed to pieces over innocently putting out there a simple FYI heads up. Sheesh – you need different readers. Maybe your readers need to go else where if they are not interested in what you say but to chew you up and spit you out like that is stupid with a capital S. How’s that for educated ;) I appreciate this post. I am very much for real foods but am desperately looking into helping my daughter with her ADHD and equally desperately trying to avoid Pharmaceuticals. She is 7, hates her school work, completely unmotivated, and hates her life after being vibrant and nothing but giggles and joy (with some dramatic tantrums swirled in because whats drama without highs and lows). We are working with an ND and this early in the process she is calming down but not focusing in. So I figured if I can temporarily, artificially tune in her focus then she will taste success and we can start to get this train turned around. Well I tried Zipfizz since its sweetened with xylitol and has other energy boosting vitamins (yes I know synthetic, remember I said I’m hoping this is a temporary crutch). It contains 100mg of caffein and did not seem to be enough. I’m trying it again today (day 2) with a few adjustments in her schedule but I’m also looking for other sources of caffein without adding tons of sugar and junk. So my search is on but I appreciate the info on this drink to consider. I would prefer an organic source but I like the idea of the green bean. I wonder if its like synthetic vs whole food vitamins. Synthetic you need to take so much more to equal the impact of a whole food vitamin in your body. So could less caffein in a green bean have a stronger effect then roasted processed dark beans higher measurable caffein content?

    • Thank you so much for your comment, Laura. While I agree that “natural” caffeine would be a better alternative to the caffeine in ADHD meds, I would actually GENTLY try the refresher as an option over any sodas, etc., but yes, it was formulated to be an energy drink and has a lot of synthetic stuff (and sugar) in it. I think that caffeine therapy for neurological disorders is effective for some, but not always idea. I would recommend you check out the GAPS diet ( Many people have a lot of success with the program when dealing with neurological issues. Stay in touch, and thank you for finding my site.

  31. You should have tried it first. Far from the truth.

  32. I drink a Starbucks refresher at least once a day. I don’t have heart palpitations like Monster gives. It is low is sugar and doesn’t have aspartame or sucralose. There isn’t a better energy drink on the market.

    • Well, if you want an energy drink, I guess. How about a diet that properly regulates your adrenal glands and nourishes you in a way that you don’t need an artificial energy drinks. An herbal supplement would at least be better.

  33. Roz, I would really like to hear more about this Framington Study. It was reference in a lecture I heard and caught my attention because of the discrepancy in the comments here. Could you fill me in on what you know please?

    • Hi Laura,
      This might be a good place to start…basically the Framingham Heart Study hypothesized that dietary fat- particularly saturated animal fat- is what causes cardiovascular disease. While the hypothesis of this study has been proven wrong and actually shown that reduced saturated fat and increased polyunsaturated fat intake leads to more problems (including possible increased risk of cancer), current cardiovascular medicine practiced in the Western world is based on the assumption that the hypothesis is true. This is a big problem. Learn more about it here:

  34. Greetings! Very useful advice within this post! It is the little changes that will make
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  36. This is a big rant about your personal choices not what I would expect from a number one listing on Google for this search.

  37. I wish I would have known this drink had so much caffeine in it. I had one of these about 4 this afternoon and it’s after 2 AM and I can’t sleep. Now I know why!

  38. Sandra, you need to realize that the refresher is NOT a caffeine concentrated drink. In a 16oz size, it has barely more caffeine than the same sized iced tea. It has about a third of what you would get in an equal sized latte, and a little less than a quarter of the same size Monster energy drink. Putting the refresher in that same category is a drastic misrepresentation. Please check your facts before you post things like this.

  39. If you don’t like the Refreshers- don’t drink them. But also don’t post a blog saying “BEWARE” like its meth in a can. If people are educated they know not to give this to children, duh. As for the pregnancy, doctors recommend not going over 200 mg of caffeine a day, and this is well below that.

    Everything in moderation, this stuff isn’t the devil. IF we went down this route just imagine all the plastics getting into our system, we eat and drink soy without even realizing it, plus GMO, etc. I’m sorry but a Starbucks Refresher should be the least of your worries and definitely doesn’t warrant a blog post about it. There are far worse things out there that we are doing that we don’t even know.

  40. I agree that people should be aware of consuming too much caffeine or sugar, but this post is a little bit over the top. Mind you, I drink unsweetened tea if I go to Starbucks, but the caffeine content of a Refresher is less than half of what my Venti iced tea contains. That doesn’t mean I think it’s healthy; I just think that the headline is too alarmist. ;)

    Your writing style is wonderful, by the way. Very clear and professional. That can’t be said about many blogs floating around these days!

    • Thanks Kim! Again, the point is that when they were launched (when I wrote this post) they were being promoted as a healthy herbal drink and handed out to children and others with no discretion. My argument is that there IS caffeine (no matter how much) so children and others who should avoid caffeine should “beware”.

  41. I’m a DJ & i started bringing the individual powdered packs to work with me (to replace having to drink any alcoholic beverages). I would usually take about 3 packs (equal to about a trenta size) with me to last me through the night. It was going well for a few weeks but recently i have been developing constant headaches & feel very weak (fatigued). I’m not sure if the cause is from the refreshers but i have cut down on them & haven’t drank any in a few days. The heachache has become mild now & i do feel a little better. I actually tried having a refresher the other day & instantly caused me to have a headache. I have given up on them for now.

    • I’m so sorry that happened to you, DJ. I recommend you try to balance your blood sugar, because it sounds like your adrenal glands are sensitive and this artificial energy really annoyed them even more. Lots of the recipes and info on my site help with that. Best to you!!

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  43. Roz, I appreciate your views on this drink, and it’s awesome to see people trying to help offer information to others. That said, I do actually work at Starbucks. The drink the baristas make does actually have only what that barista told you. A juice concentrate, filtered water, and freeze dried fruit. We shake those things together and pour it into a cup, the fruit gets hydrated and that’s it. I don’t know how other stores go about selling these products, but at my store we go out of our way to educate people. Most people think the refreshers are tea. We ALWAYS tell them it is an energy drink. The hand-made versions have about as much caffeine as a soda, so it’s really not as high in caffeine as you think it is. And compared to the things that fast-food venders offer, I think we have the healthiest option. Not to mention the fact that our company really does try to continually make positive changes for the health of our customers and partners. They’ve taken out all high-fructose corn syrup from all of our products including pastries and the syrups that go in the drinks. So, I definitely respect your point of view, but please appreciate that there are at least some of us who are trying to make sure our customers know what they’re getting.

    • Hey Kristi! Thanks for commenting! Every time I’m in Starbucks I read the refreshers marketing displays and I NEVER see an emphasis on them being an “energy drink”. I do love that you guys educate your customers. I have literally had to explain the drink to people standing in line because the employees at the counter couldn’t explain what they were. Honestly I NEVER thought this post would be read so much. I guess it ranks on the first page of a google search for the refreshers. I stand by everything I wrote…just to be aware of what they are and know you’re drinking caffeine. Your choice, as long as you know. Maybe since you’re in the company you can encourage them to properly educate. I know it’s the parents’ job, but I’ve seen countless parents carelessly let their kids get things that I would consider dangerous for kids.

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  46. I just bought one box of each of these refresher powders. Right now I am drinking the very berry hibiscus. The fact that it is caffeinated was plastered on all the signs and box and tubes the powders came in. Maybe not all signs in all stores posted this, but from what I have seen, one of their big marketing push of this product was EXACTLY because it was caffeinated but doesn’t taste like coffee (for the non-coffee lovers).

    Just fwiw.

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