Starbucks is the most recognizable coffee shop of all time – in some cities, you’ll see that circular green and white logo on practically every street corner.
With over 30,000 store locations worldwide, you may be wondering just how many options at this coffee giant are diabetes-friendly.
The good new is…there may be more low carb options than you thought!
Starbucks Nutrition Facts
The Starbucks drink menu has so many different options, it can be a little dizzying, especially for new customers.
When you factor in the different options for milk alternatives, syrup flavors, and coffee strength, there is practically an infinite number of ways to mix and match until you get the perfect drink.
To keep things simple, let’s start by breaking down the nutrition facts for a timeless Starbucks classic: the vanilla latte.
Here’s what you’ll get in a Grande (16oz) vanilla latte:
- Calories: 250
- Total Carbohydrate: 37g
- Protein: 12g
- Fat: 6g
- Caffeine: 170mg
The ingredients in a standard vanilla latte are cow’s milk, brewed espresso, and vanilla syrup (sugar plus flavoring).
If we downsize that 16 oz (Grande) to a 12 oz (Tall) then we cut 37g of total carbs to 28g of carbs. That’s a little better, but when it comes to keeping your blood sugar levels happy, it’s not good enough.
All those carbohydrates are likely to send your blood sugar soaring!
The good news is that not all Starbucks coffees are this high carb. There’s a huge range of options on that 40-item drink menu, and a number of them are diabetes-friendly!
Comparing Beverages at Starbucks
Here is a snapshot of some of the hot and cold beverages Starbucks has to offer, ranging from carb-free to over 60g per 16oz serving!
Note that the nutrients on this list are showing what’s in a standard order, with no alternations made.
You may notice a big jump between the 14g cappuccino (just espresso with milk) and the Pink Drink Refresher. This jump is where drinks on the menu start containing “added” sugar in various amounts.
To make a diabetes-friendly order at Starbucks you’ll want to stick with drinks that don’t contain any sugar. When looking at the chart, that means sticking to drinks such as the cappuccino and above – the drinks that have no/low “added” sugar.
What NOT to Order at Starbucks
Here’s where we get to the practical stuff. What should you stay away from if you’re trying to cut carbs?
High Carb Beverages to Avoid
Types of Drinks to Stay Away From:
- Sweetened coffee drinks: standard lattes, mochas, macchiatos, cold brews with added flavoring, etc.
- Other sweetened hot drinks: this includes apple cider, hot chocolate, and hot crème beverages
- Frappuccino and other sweet blended beverages (these are just milkshakes in disguise)
- Other cold sweetened beverages: lemonade, fruit juice, smoothies, and any of the “Refresher” drinks
Types of Milk & Crème to Avoid:
- Oat and soy (these are naturally higher in carbs and contain added sugars)
- Avoid the sweet crème (contains added sugar)
Syrups & Sweeteners to Skip:
- All the standard syrups are heavy in sugar and empty calories (Example: the most popular syrup flavor, vanilla, packs 20 calories and 5g of added sugar. With most standard coffees containing 3-4 pumps of syrup, that adds up quickly!)
- Don’t add honey to tea or coffee (honey is liquid sugar)
Top Diabetic Friendly Drinks At Starbucks
To make your next trip to Starbucks a breeze, here’s an easy cheat-sheet on the types of drinks and ingredients that tend to be blood sugar-friendly.
Best Types of Beverages
You want to go for drinks that contain no added sugar, like these examples:
- Any black coffee, hot or iced: espresso, brewed, cold-brewed with no additives
- Iced coffees without the “classic syrup” (ask for no syrup)
- Hot or iced teas, plain: herbal or caffeinated teas like black, green, passionate tango, citrus mint tea, chia tea bag, etc.
- Sparkling water and unsweetened seltzer
Low Carb Milk & Milk Alternatives
- 2% milk, half-and-half, and heavy cream
- Almond milk or coconut milk
If you’re not a dairy drinker, you may want to opt for almond milk (6g of carbs per 8 oz) coconut milk (7g of carbs) or just skip the milk in your drink altogether.
LOWER CARB TIP: A way to keep the carbs as light as possible is to ask for a “splash” of milk or cream, rather than having half your coffee cup filled with milk.
Another way to reduce carbs in a drink containing milk is to order a smaller size. Choosing a 12oz “Tall” or even an 8 oz “Short” sized drink will naturally reduce the amount of milk (and therefore, carbs) in it.
Diabetes-Friendly Syrups & Sweeteners
- Vanilla and Cinnamon Dulce flavored sugar-free syrup
- Sugar-free sweetener packets like Sweet’N Low, Equal, Splenda, and (while these are all acceptable, we recommend Stevia since it’s the most natural option)
Starbucks offers these 2 sugar-free syrup flavorings (each pump of sugar-free sweetener contains about 1g of carb). These syrups are made with the artificial sweetener sucralose (aka. Splenda).
Between these syrup and sweetener options, you can rework a good portion of the drinks on the Starbucks menu to make them diabetes friendly.
Check out the chart below for the best diabetic safe drinks at Starbucks.
LOWER CARB TIP: For more flavor, ask for a sprinkle of powdered cinnamon or nutmeg on top of your drink – it won’t add any more calories or carbs, but it will give you a boost of extra flavor.
As you can see, there are lots of Starbucks drinks for diabetics to enjoy!