Keeping it Keto at Starbucks: A Quick Guide

September 05, 2018

Keeping it Keto at Starbucks: A Quick Guide

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 got everything from coffee, tea, Frappuccino, 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 specify you want your drink unsweetened. Starbucks is notorious for the amounts 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 going for almond milk as it has fewer carbs than dairy milk.
 
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.

Plain Old Dark Coffee

Coffee is a no-carb drink, so it's definitely keto-friendly. That is if you drink your coffee in its simplest form. Add sugar to plain dark coffee and you're changing the whole picture. To keep it simple at Starbucks, just order plain, dark coffee be it espresso, drip, cold brew, and even iced. That way, you'll get all the benefits of coffee without having to worry about the carbs.
 
And when mentioning coffee 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. Decaf doesn't cut it when it comes to health, so always go for the real thing. As for nutrition, there are 5 calories and 0 net carbs in plain, fresh-brewed coffee.
Now back to Starbucks coffee. If you don't like bitter-tasting Caffè Americano Coffee, you can always add a drop of stevia and ask for a bit of heavy cream for a rich-tasting coffee. With the added saturated fat from the cream, this one will be almost like a cup of keto coffee.

Creamy Espresso as Bulletproof Replacement

And 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 gives you long-lasting mental energy early mornings. The coffee also boosts ketone production.
 
Because Starbucks doesn't really serve Bulletproof, you can order it's stand-in: Espresso Con Panna. The taste and consistency is comparable to that of Bulletproof, but it will have less fat and more milk solids. Espresso coffee also contains a higher amount of coffee solids than typical coffee. This gives it a greater nutritional value as espresso is rich in magnesium and some B vitamins [2].
 
From this cup of coffee, you'll get around 60 calories, 6 grams of fat, and 2 grams of carbs. If you still don't like the simple flavor of this faux Bulletproof, ask the barista next time to give you a cup of iced espresso with some whipped cream and add 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 Caffe Misto Grande, for example, has a whopping 10 grams net carbs while a Short Caffé Misto has half as much. Always go for the smaller servings when in doubt. Otherwise, grande and venti when you're 100% sure that what you're ordering is low in carbs.
 
Caffe Misto and Caffe Late 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, Caffe Latte has more milk and less coffee per serving which increases its carb content (milk contains carbs in the form of lactose).
 
For instance, you'll get almost 20 grams carbs from a big serving of Caffe Latte and half as much from the same-sized serving of Caffe Misto.

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. It has only 5 calories in one 16 fl oz serving and only 25 mg of caffeine (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, aka your brain [3].
 
This Starbucks decaf version is made with medium roasted coffee. According to their website, it has a smooth, balanced, and rich flavor. If you're left wanting more, ask for half and half 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 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 healthier, tastier, and keto version of this Starbucks favorite.

Low Carb Vanilla Latte

Starbucks Vanilla Latte has been ranking number 1 for years now as this company's most popular drink. Lucky for you, you can get a low-carb version of this delicious beverage while not compromising taste.
A typical Vanilla Latte contains a sugary syrup and 2% milk coming at around 18 grams net carbs. The skinnier version has 9 grams net carbs because the barista adds a sugar-free syrup, but that's still a lot of carbs coming from the low-fat milk. To further reduce the carb content, consider either replace the milk with whipping cream or almond milk.

Low-Carb Frappuccino

Frappuccino is a trademark Starbucks product made with iced coffee blended with different flavors and topping.

Frappuccino is a trademark Starbucks product made with iced coffee blended with different flavors and topping. These drinks are typically not very healthy or even keto as an average Frappuccino containing around 40 grams net carbs. But as with other Starbucks drinks, you can tweak them to better suit your diet.
 
Ask the barista for a cup of tall iced coffee blended with heavy cream, a sugar-free syrup such as Vanilla, Mocha, Caramel, or Cinnamon Dolce Syrup. Instead of sugary toppings, ask for low-carb spices like cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.

Low-Carb Teas

Teas are also an option at Starbucks. 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
  • Emperors Cloud and Mist Green Tea
  • Jade Citrus Mint Green Tea
  • Passion Tango Herbal Tea
  • Royal English Breakfast Tea
  • Teavana Joy (Seasonal)
  • Teavana Organic Chai Tea
Watch out for other teas, especially Chai Lattes as these can contain up to 40 grams carbs. Have the low-carb teas listed above as are or sweeten with stevia.

Low-Carb Starbucks Food

There aren't that many low-carb meals at Starbucks, and you'll definitely need to improvise if you're looking to have a quick snack while sipping on your favorite latte. Their protein bowls, for example, usually come with grains, fruit, legumes, and other high-carb foods. Ordering them just to have a taste of the eggs, cheese, peanut butter, and yogurt that comes with these boxes is a waste of food and money.
 
Sous-Vide & Avocado Spread
Instead, order Starbucks' famous Sous-Vide Egg Bites with an avocado spread. 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 to go with the avocado spread.
 
Starbucks Salads
You can also order keto Starbucks salads to stay within your macros limit. Their Grilled Chicken and Cauliflower Tabbouleh. It's made with fresh leafy greens, grilled chicken, cauliflower tabbouleh, olives, red peppers, feta, and lemon. The dish has 15 grams net carbs which you can reduce by avoiding the tabbouleh and eating the rest of the salad.

Conclusion

Don't go without your favorite Frappuccino and Coffee just because you're following keto. Starbucks offers a range of low-carb coffees, teas, and even meals to you keep you on track. You also get to customize most orders the way you need it.
 
You can either go for the sugar-free sweeteners from Starbucks or bring your own. Always go 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.
 
As long as you follow our tips, you'll stay in ketosis and keep eating low-carb even at fast food places and coffee shops like Starbucks.