How to Order Keto-Friendly Drinks at Starbucks
One of the most challenging aspects to any diet or lifestyle change is finding room for little treats and on-the-go pick-me-ups. My recent entry into the world of ketosis has faced one, consistent road block: what do I drink in the middle of a 60 hour work week to keep me sane? Rum is my go-to but that’s no longer socially acceptable while one is at work. Since my mental health depends on the prevalence of coffee shop drive thrus at my disposal, I am lucky to have extensive knowledge of the Starbucks menu garnered through four years of reluctant service at the coffee giant which allows me to stay keto. So, with no further preamble, how to order keto-friendly at Starbucks.
What Not to Order
- Frappuccino. No Frappuccino of any kind or in any iteration. Not the the light ones or the sugar free ones. They contain a premixed base that cannot be substituted and it’s full of carbs.
- Caramel Macchiato. It’s just a Vanilla Latte with the espresso poured on top instead of mixed in and caramel sauce on top. You can order it with sugar free vanilla but the caramel sauce does not come sugar free. It’s basically sweet lard and you don’t want that. You can order it without the caramel but, again, that’s just a Vanilla Latte and people only order the Macchiatos because the iced ones are pretty and it makes them feel special (which is okay, I guess, but I have no sympathy for your aesthetic sensibilities because it’s a silly reason to order a drink).
- Pro-tip: The caramel sauce is different from the caramel syrup. As stated above, the sauce is sweet lard. The syrup is a liquid and is used in Caramel Lattes and does come sugar free.
- Most of the bottled drinks. But of course it is easy to check the nutrition info on these items.
- Smoothies, teas that contain lemonade, and drinks that are fruity e.g. Caramel Apple Spice
Best Drinks to Order
- Black Coffee. Fer reals. Whatever the level of one’s coffee snobery is, Starbucks has good coffee and the employees are good at keeping it freshly brewed. So if you can stand it, order it.
- Coffee with Heavy Whipping Cream. Heavy cream has <1 carb per serving and is full of the fat we ketoers need. Just remember a tablespoon has 50 calories and generally a cup of coffee gets ~3-6 tablespoons.
- Pro-tip: Don’t order it with heavy cream because it can be confused with “heavy on the cream” which refers to half-and-half. It wouldn’t be a tragedy if you got half-and-half as it, too, is low on carbs, but be sure to say “heavy whipping cream” to avoid confusion.
- Coffee with Sugar Free Syrup and/or Heavy Whipping Cream. Sugar free syrups have no carbs, so have at it.
- Espresso. Plain espresso, like coffee, has no carbs. Comes in single (one shot, 1 oz.), double (two shots, 2 oz.), triple etc. You can add anything to these that you would a regular coffee. The flavor is much stronger, obviously, as the coffee is concentrated. Straight up espresso is only for the highly committed people who actually like it, those in a hurry who don’t want to dawdle over a 16 oz cup, and, of course, the pretentious.
- Pro-tip: Although espresso has more caffeine per ounce than regular brew, the notion that espresso beverages have more caffeine than coffee is false. A tall coffee will have 150 mg of caffeine as opposed to 75 mg in a tall latte. But you can always add more shots to any drink. One shot is 75 mg of caffeine. Tall: One shot, Grande: Two shots, Venti: Two shots (Venti iced drinks have three shots because of the extra couple onces given for the ice).
- Latte. It’s espresso and steamed milk with a bit of milk foam on top. A tall made with whole milk has 14 carbs and 180 calories, grande 18 carbs and 220 calories, venti 23 carbs and 290 calories.
- Skinny Latte. Includes vanilla, caramel, cinnamon dulce, and hazelnut. The carbs and calories are the same as the regular latte. Be sure you specify that you don’t want skim milk because that is the default for skinny lattes. That shit is watery and has a couple more carbs than whole milk.
- Skinny Mocha. A skinny latte with sugar free mocha sauce. A great choice for chocolate lovers and my personal favorite. The skinny mocha actually has a few grams of dietary fiber, so it brings the net carbs down to 11 for a tall, grande 14 carbs, venti 18 carbs. Again, specify you want whole milk instead of skim.
Tea and Other
- Hot Tea and Shaken Iced Tea. These obviously have no carbs and you can sweeten them with artificial sweetener.
- Tea Lattes. Includes London Fog, Chai Latte, etc. These are definitely not keto but there are options. Instead of a London Fog, order an Earl Grey hot tea with heavy whipping cream and sugar free vanilla. For chai lovers, order a hot chai tea with heavy whipping cream and sugar free vanilla and/or sugar free mocha (you can add nutmeg and cinnamon powder on the condiment bar).
- Pro-tip: You can add anything to your tea that you can to your coffee. Just remember that fruity teas (e.g. Passion Tea, Wild Sweet Orange) are highly acidic and will curdle the milk. Stick with black teas when mixing a concoction.
- Hot Chocolate. Can be ordered with sugar free mocha, sugar free vanilla, and whole milk. The carb and calorie content is the same as the latte.
All nutrition info is from Starbucks.com….. I mean, srsly guys, you coulda found this stuff yourself….