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What’s Keto Friendly at Starbucks? Top 7 Keto Starbucks Drink Orders

By Fitoru | 23 October 2019
black cups being filled under espresso coffee maker

If you’re on the low-carb ketogenic diet but don’t want to miss out on your favorite treats at Starbucks, don’t worry: there are plenty of ways to order keto-friendly drinks at Starbucks, or even make your own keto Starbucks approximations at the counter and with the aid of the spice bar. We have the top seven best hot and cold drinks you can order up at Starbucks without getting knocked out of ketosis.

How to Keep Keto at Starbucks

You already know that when it comes to the food items at Starbucks, you’re going to have to say goodbye to a lot of the them. Your best bet for a low-carb snack is the Bacon and Gruyere Sous Vide Egg Bites (and they’ve still got 9 grams of carbs), because bagels, cookies, and cake pops are definitely out. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t still drop in and order a Chai Tea Latte or a low-carb Frappucino if you order carefully and know what to avoid. The great part about Starbucks is that the baristas are happy to make a custom order for every customer, the only question is: what’s safe to order? 

Ingredients to Avoid on Keto

We’ll start with what you need to watch out for if you don’t want your pick-me-up to kick you out of ketosis.

  • Sugary syrups: If you don’t want a few pumps of simple Classic syrup to fall into your drink as a matter of course, be sure to specify “no Classic” (meaning no sweetener) when you order—a pump or two of flavored syrup in the standard caramel macchiato could contribute up to 30 grams of net carbs.
  • So-called “sugar-free” syrups: Just because a syrup is sugar-free doesn’t mean it’s perfectly keto friendly. Artificial sweeteners like sucralose (the main ingredient in these syrups and in Splenda) come with their own downsides, like heat instability in your hot drinks that may cause a toxic, potentially cancer-causing chemical breakdown. That means that though it’s technically low carb, a couple pumps of sugar-free vanilla syrup or sugar-free cinnamon dolce syrup isn’t always as healthy as you deserve.
  • Whipped cream: The whipped cream at Starbucks isn’t just whipped-up cream. Like many other commercial whipped creams it’s often flavored with sugar or vanilla syrup and will sabotage an otherwise keto-friendly Starbucks drink that’s made-to-order.
  • Pre-made powders, mixes, and concentrates: Many of the ingredients at Starbucks are pre-made and full of sugar. On one hand, it’s amazing that one franchise can be so consistent and familiar anywhere in the world, but on the other hand that means lemonade, refresher, green tea, and chai tea latte mixes can’t be customized for keto—they come with sugars already blended in.

Safe Ingredients for Keto Orders at Starbucks

Here are some ingredients you can include that may work with your keto diet.

  • Whole milk and heavy cream: While there are some sugars in dairy products like the 2% milk splashed into each espresso drink, the nonfat milk found in “skinny” drink orders and the half-and-half (half whole milk, half heavy cream) used for “breve” orders, whole milk and heavy cream can be useful for keto dieters, contributing some healthy fats for the cost that comes from a few grams of carbs.
  • Milk alternatives: Non-dairy milk alternatives have fewer carbs and sugar than dairy milk (though not zero), so whether you choose coconut milk, almond milk, or soy milk, you’re that much closer to keeping keto.
  • The spice bar: The self-serve spice bar has shakers of nutmeg, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and (seasonally) pumpkin spice, and sometimes even stevia packets, a natural sweetener much preferable to artificial sweeteners. You can customize and sweeten your orders safely and independently at the spice bar.
How to Keep Keto at Starbucks

The Top 7 Hot and Cold Keto Starbucks Drinks

Here are seven simple Starbucks drinks you can order without risking your keto diet.

1. Hot or Cold Brew Coffee or Tea Lattes

The simpler the better when it comes to ordering out on keto: there’s nothing sneaky about a plain cup of hot, fresh-brewed black coffee. You can even add some of your own MCT oil for extra energy to turn black coffee into keto coffee

If you’re looking for less caffeine or it’s just too late in the day for coffee, choose from an assortment of tea bags at Starbucks, like their green tea varieties of Jade Citrus Mint or Emperors Cloud and Mist, or a Passion Tango Herbal Tea to avoid caffeine entirely. 

A little less boring than plain tea, you can also order a hot tea latte that isn’t made from the pre-made sugary mixes: instead of a London Fog Tea Latte for example, ask for a couple of Earl Grey tea bags and a splash of heavy cream, and then concoct your own latte at the spice bar with keto-friendly sweeteners. The same goes for making your own keto chai tea latte: start with hot tea and build a latte from scratch.

If it’s cold out, get your drinks hot, and if it’s hot out, get them cold, including unsweetened iced tea, cold brew coffee, and iced coffee versions of your favorite recipes.

2. Simple Espresso Drinks

If you just want a coffee jolt without having to worry about too many extra carbs, one shot of espresso (“solo”) or two (“doppio”) will do it. A simple Americano, made with espresso mixed with hot water, has only about 2 net carbs for each shot of espresso in a grande or venti size. When the winter season approaches, you can even go rogue and festive by asking for an Americano with sugar-free cinnamon or peppermint syrup, and that way enjoy a holiday drink without all the sugar in a standard latte or frappuccino.

Then there’s a flat white: a coffee drink with an extra ristretto espresso shot and microfoam on top (steamed milk with fine, tiny bubbles that lend a velvety texture that goes down smoother than a cappuccino). Swapping out whole milk for almond milk helps cut down on the carbs in a flat white and keeps it a simpler kind of keto drink.

3. Keto Caramel Macchiato

Speaking of espresso drinks, did you know you can order yourself a keto caramel macchiato? A normal macchiato off the regular menu isn’t keto at all, as it’s made with vanilla syrup, espresso shots, steamed milk, and caramel drizzle, but that’s where the secret keto Starbucks menu comes in. Start by ordering an Americano that’s 3 parts water and 1 part heavy cream, allow only SF vanilla syrup, and take or leave the hit of 2 grams of net carbs to top it off with caramel drizzle (or not).

4. White Tea, Green, and Pink Drink

These DIY keto-friendly concoctions are classics on the low-carb Starbucks menu.

  • White Tea Drink: Made with unsweetened Peach Citrus White Tea, heavy cream, and a few pumps of sugar-free vanilla, this Instagram star is a quick way to make your own keto-friendly, tasty refresher.
  • Green Drink: This is a mix of unsweetened iced black or green tea with a couple scoops of bright green matcha powder, plus coconut milk or heavy cream (keep in mind that Starbucks’s coconut milk contains sugar) and sugar-free vanilla syrup. Just stir it up and you’ve got yourself a bright, tasty pick-me-up. 
  • Pink Drink: The keto Pink Drink is a delicious alternative for the original non-keto Pink Drink, which involves a base of Strawberry Acai Refresher and coconut milk (and up to 25 grams of carbs). The keto version is super simple—order an unsweetened iced Passion Tango tea, add some heavy whipping cream and sugar-free vanilla syrup (only if you want it!), and you’re fast out the door, pretty in pink.

Keep in mind that you can also make these DIY orders just as easily at home, and use an all-natural monk fruit syrup to sweeten your drink without worry.

5. Keto Caffe Misto

Caffe mistos are half brewed coffee and half steamed milk, basically a café au lait. A lot like a latte but distinct for its milder taste and lack of espresso, a keto caffe misto is easy to make: replace the milk with heavy cream, or a 1:1 mix of hot water and heavy cream, and you’re good to go.

6. Keto Frappuccino

A Frappuccino off the standard menu will bring you coffee, ice, milk, and all the sugars and powders you’ll want to avoid if you’re trying to maintain a state of ketosis, plus whipped cream and syrup on top. A keto frappuccino from Starbucks can be had however, by asking your barista to take your preferred ingredients and simply blend them in a Frappuccino fashion. 

An ice coffee blended as a Frappuccino is half the battle, and then the rest is just adding the right ingredients to approximate what you’re after: heavy whipping cream and sugar-free syrup or stevia for sweetness (but not any of the coffee syrups behind the counter—nicely ask the barista to skip them).

7. Low-Carb Mocha

What makes the usual mocha from Starbucks such a crowd-pleaser is that it’s full of chocolate syrup (and espresso and steamed milk, of course). A single pump of mocha sauce has up to 7 grams of net carbs though, so luckily they do offer a “skinny mocha sauce” made with sucralose. 

While it’s not as ideal an alternative as a natural sugar substitute, it’s still going to make way less of a dent on your diet with only 1 gram of net carbs per pump. By substituting the milk with half heavy cream and half water and skipping the whipped cream on top, you’ve got the mocha you were craving with way fewer carbs. Another way to do it is to order an Americano with skinny mocha syrup and a splash of heavy cream mixed in.

Sugar-Free Starbucks

Now you know how to order keto drinks at Starbucks, but you also know just how simple so many of your favorite drinks truly are without the pre-mixes that go into standard menu drinks. Staying keto while enjoying coffee out and about is important, but your coffee can be even more keto (and your wallet fuller) if you start making keto Starbucks-inspired coffees at home. Check out the list of keto coffee creamers available on demand, and keep calm and caffeinate on without having to worry about falling out of ketosis.

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