Food

How to Keep it Keto at Starbucks

Published on: September 05, 2018

How to Keep it Keto at Starbucks

Being the world's biggest coffee house, Starbucks offers a plethora of coffee-based drinks along with excellent customer service. But this coffee giant also serves breakfasts, snacks, teas, and other delicious foods to pick up during lunchtime. With so many choices available, choosing what to order can be tough and this is especially true when you're going keto.

Is that Caffe Americano really sugar-free? How many carbs are in that cup of iced tea? What exactly is that vanilla syrup made of? There are lots of questions you'll be asking yourself once you head to everyone's favorite coffee shop. To make your order swiftly and confidently, scroll down to read our easy guide.

We explain what keto-friendly options Starbucks has to offer and how to make your order. We’ve got everything from coffee, tea, Frappuccinos, and food covered. When it comes to ordering out on keto, knowledge is half the battle, so do keep reading and start ordering low-carb at Starbucks.


Before You Make Your Order

Starbucks offers a wide range of coffee and non-coffee drinks and often includes new additions to make things interesting, but what's best about Starbucks is that they allow you to customize your order. Don't shy away from being specific when it comes to what you want and do not want in your keto Starbucks cup.

Begin by always specifying that you want your drink unsweetened because Starbucks is notorious for the high amount of sugar in their drinks. Instead, ask to have your drink sweetened with Splenda or a sugar-free syrup. Second, when ordering any beverage with added milk, you'll be getting 2% milk unless you specify otherwise. We suggest choosing almond milk as it contains fewer carbs than dairy milk (the almond milk Starbucks uses contains 3 grams of sugar per 8 ounce serving).

Lastly, you can replace anything with unsweetened heavy whipping cream. It has much more fat and fewer carbs than milk and makes any drink taste great, even without the sugar.


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Plain Old Dark Coffee

Coffee is a zero-carb drink, so it's definitely keto-friendly if you drink it in its simplest form, but by adding sugar to plain dark coffee the whole nutrition picture changes. To keep it simple at Starbucks, just order plain coffee, be it espresso, drip, cold brew or iced. That way, you'll get all the benefits of coffee without having to worry about the carbs.

Speaking of coffee’s benefits, studies show coffee reduces people's risk of diabetes and liver disease [1]. These benefits come directly from caffeine and 800 other compounds found in coffee. There may also be similar benefits from decaffeinated coffee from the hundreds of compounds it contains other than caffeine. As for nutrition, there are 5 calories and 0 net carbs in plain, fresh-brewed coffee.


There are other zero-carb coffee options to consider as well. If you don't like the bitter taste of espresso shots in the Caffè Americano, you can always add a drop of stevia and ask for a bit of heavy cream for a richer taste. With the added saturated fat from the cream, this one will be almost like a cup of keto coffee.


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Creamy Espresso as Bulletproof Replacement

Since we're talking about keto coffee, you're probably familiar with Dave Asprey's Bulletproof coffee. If not, it's coffee infused with grass-fed butter that boosts ketone production and therefore may give you a boost in energy in the morning.

Because Starbucks doesn't really serve Bulletproof, you can order its stand-in: Espresso Con Panna, which is straight espresso shots topped with a dollop of whipped cream. The taste and consistency are comparable to Bulletproof coffee, but it will have less fat and more milk solids. Espresso coffee also contains a higher amount of coffee solids than regular drip coffee, which gives it a greater nutritional value as it is rich in magnesium and some B vitamins [2].

If you order a triple Espresso con Panna (2.3 ounces), you'll get around 40 calories, 2.5 grams of fat and 4 grams of carbs. If you still don't like the simple flavor of this faux Bulletproof, ask the barista to give you a cup of iced espresso with whipped cream and add a sugar-free syrup of your liking.


Short Caffe Misto

When ordering straight off the menu, making wise keto choices can be tough. One way to play it safe at Starbucks, in particular, is by sticking to smaller servings. One Grande Caffe Misto (steamed 2% milk and coffee), for example, has a whopping 10 grams of net carbs while a Short Caffé Misto has half as many carbs. Always go for the smaller servings when in doubt; otherwise, go for grande and venti when you're 100% sure that what you're ordering is low in carbs.

Caffe Misto and Caffe Latte are both coffee with milk, but they do differ nutritionally and taste-wise. The former is made with freshly brewed coffee and topped with steamed milk, the latter is made with a shot of espresso topped with steamed milk as well as milk foam. So, the Caffe Latte has more milk and less coffee per serving which increases its carb content (milk contains carbs in the form of lactose). For perspective, you’ll get almost 20 grams of carbs from a Grande Caffe Latte and half as many from the same sized Caffe Misto.


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Decaf Pike Place

If you like the taste of coffee but not the effects of caffeine, then definitely go for this low-carb keto Starbucks drink, which contains only 5 calories and 25 mg of caffeine in a 16-ounce serving (yes, decaf still has a bit of caffeine). You may not feel the effects, but studies show that even at such a small dose, caffeine does affect your central nervous system and therefore cognition [3].

This Starbucks decaf version is made with medium roasted Pike Place coffee, which Starbucks describes as having a smooth, balanced and rich flavor. If you're left wanting more, ask for half cream or top the coffee with cream.


Chai Tea Latte – Keto Version

Starbucks' Chai Tea Latte is black tea concentrate flavored with cinnamon and other spices, combined with steamed milk and topped with foam. A short serving of this popular Starbucks drink has 22 grams of net carbs from milk, sugar, and honey.

To make this delicious drink more keto-friendly, ask for brewed chai tea instead of the concentrate and add heavy whipping cream and a sugar-free cinnamon dolce syrup to emulate the original. You'll get a much lower sugar, tastier, and keto version of this Starbucks favorite.


Low Carb Vanilla Latte

Starbucks Vanilla Latte is one of the company's most popular drinks. Lucky for you, you can get a low-carb version of this delicious beverage without compromising taste.

A Grande Vanilla Latte contains a sugary syrup and 2% milk and contains 37 grams of net carbs. The “skinny” version of the same size has 19 grams of net carbs because of the carbs coming from the nonfat milk. To further reduce the carb content, consider either replacing the nonfat milk with whipping cream or almond milk.


Low-Carb Frappuccino

The Frappuccino is a trademark Starbucks product made with iced coffee blended with different flavors and toppings. These drinks are typically high in sugar and not keto-friendly as a Grande Coffee Frappuccino contains around 50 grams of net carbs, but as with other Starbucks drinks, you can tweak them to better suit your diet.

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Ask the barista for a tall iced coffee blended with heavy cream and a sugar-free syrup in the flavor of your liking. Instead of sugary toppings, ask for low-carb spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.


Low-Carb Teas


Teas are also a great option at Starbucks as most are keto-friendly, even when iced and flavored. Some popular Starbucks teas containing 0 net carbs include:

  • Comfort Wellness Brewed Tea
  • Emperor's Cloud and Mist Green Tea
  • Peach Tranquility Herbal Tea
  • Jade Citrus Mint Green Tea
  • Passion Tango Herbal Tea
  • Royal English Breakfast Tea
  • Teavana Joy (Seasonal)
  • Teavana Earl Grey Tea
  • Teavana Organic Chai Tea

Watch out for other teas, especially Chai Lattes as these can contain over 40 grams of net carbs due to the syrups and milks that are used. You may choose to order the low-carb teas listed above plain or sweetened with stevia.


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Low-Carb Starbucks Food

There isn’t an abundance of low-carb meals at Starbucks, and you'll likely need to improvise if you're looking to have a quick snack while sipping on your favorite latte. Starbucks’ protein bowls, for example, usually come with grains, fruit, legumes, and other high-carb foods, so ordering them just to have a taste of the keto-friendly protein that comes with these boxes is a waste of food and money.


Sous vide & avocado spread

A keto-friendly food option is Starbucks' famous Sous Vide Egg Bites with an avocado spread, which makes for a complete keto meal and is incredibly delicious. You'll get around 400 calories from 30 grams of fat, 20 grams of protein, and 10 grams of net carbs if you order the Bacon & Gruyere with the avocado spread.

 

Starbucks salads

You can also order keto Starbucks salads to stay within your macro limits. The Grilled Chicken and Cauliflower Tabbouleh is made with fresh leafy greens, grilled chicken, cauliflower tabbouleh, olives, red peppers, feta, and lemon. The dish has 11 grams of net carbs which you can reduce by avoiding the vinaigrette.


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Conclusion

Don't go without your favorite Frappuccino or coffee drink just because you're following a keto diet. Starbucks offers a range of low-carb coffees, teas, and even meals to you keep you on track, and you also can customize most orders the way you need it.

You can either go for the sugar-free sweeteners from Starbucks or bring your own, and opt for heavy cream when suitable to make your keto Starbucks drinks rich in the most important keto nutrient – fat. Another thing to keep in mind is the milk content of each drink since milk is also a source of carbs.

By following our tips, you'll stay in ketosis and keep eating low-carb even at fast food places and coffee shops like Starbucks.


Takeaways

  • You can customize your order at Starbucks to make your drink or meal more keto-friendly.
  • Having your drink sweetened with Splenda or sugar-free syrup, or completely avoiding sweeteners is one thing you can do when it comes to coffee.
  • Since Starbucks doesn’t serve bulletproof coffee, a friendly choice on their menu would be Espresso Con Panna.
  • Examples of keto-friendly teas at Starbucks that don’t contain carbohydrates include Comfort Wellness Brewed Tea, Teavana Earl Grey Tea, and Peach Tranquility Herbal Tea.
  • Two kinds of low-carb food options are Sous vide & avocado spread and Starbucks salads.

References:

  1. Nieber K. The Impact of Coffee on Health. 2017 July 4 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28675917
  2. Coffee, brewed, espresso, restaurant-prepared, decaffeinated. https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/beverages/7400/2
  3. Smit HJ, Rogers PJ. Effects of low doses of caffeine on cognitive performance, mood and thirst in low and higher... View all references

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