Sugar-Free drinks at Starbucks, Timothy’s, Tim Hortons, and other coffee Shops.
Order a drink with double flavour shots, three sugars, extra whip, double caramel… and no one will bat an eye. Ask for a plain iced latte, no syrup, no artificial sweetener, and most likely you’ll be asked to confirm if “plain without anything in it” is what you really want. I know. It happens to me every time.
“Plain without anything in it” does sound really boring, doesn’t it? Coffee shop specialty drinks have really taken on a life of their own. In fact, it is estimated that Starbucks can make 87000 different variations of their drinks. With Frappuccinos averaging a whopping 400 calories, our bodies are also taking on a life of their own.
So, here’s the thing. Going to the coffee shop should be about being with your friends, the experience, blah, blah, blah, …. I don’t know about you, but when I go to the coffee shop, I still want something special to drink?
Why don’t coffee shops sell stevia sweetened drinks? Here in Canada, they can’t. It’s against the law. As long as stevia is classified as a health food product, it can only be sold in health food stores.
In the US, Rebaudioside A is approved as a sweetener and can be sold in coffeeshops. For example, Starbucks USA sells "Refreshers" sweetened with cane sugar, a sugar alcohol called Erythritol, and a derivative of stevia called Reb-A.
What about “Sugar-Free” drinks? Most syrup bases are made with artificial sweeteners, including Splenda, so if like me, you don’t consume those either, we’ve just narrowed our options down by more than 86950ish.
This leaves natural unsweetened drinks like tea and coffee that you can sweeten yourself.
So always be prepared by carrying Sweetleaf stevia packet or stevia tabs in your purse.
Sugar-Free Natural Drinks at the Coffeeshop
Available at Starbucks, Coffee Culture, Timothy’s, most independent coffee houses. Great drink on a hot hot day.
Usually 2 shots of Espresso, cold milk, and ice. You can ask for whatever type of milk or ratio of water to milk you want. Add your own stevia.
Available at Starbucks, Timothy’s, Coffee Culture, independent coffee houses, and Tim Hortons.
A separate dispenser is usually kept with double strength coffee which is poured over ice. A syrup is automatically added, so you must specify PLAIN. Add milk or cream, and use your own stevia.
At Starbucks, you can also order an Iced Caffè Americano. This is similar in strength, but different in flavour from their regular Iced Coffee and is prepared by combining their signature espresso with water, and pouring it over ice to chill.
Available at Starbucks & Timothy’s, might be available in some coffee houses.
Starbucks brews plain Black, Green, and Passion iced tea throughout the day. Unless you say something, they automatically add syrup. Many people order this with lemonade but unfortunately, the lemonade is full of sugar, (12 grams in a Grande with no syrup). Order your iced tea plain, and you must specify it unsweetened. See the big X on my cup, under “syrup”? For sweetness, add your own stevia.
The Green iced tea is their best seller. My favourite is the Passion Tea and it’s really good! With no calories, I always order a Venti and add a full packet of SweetLeaf stevia. Always perfect on a hot day!
Timothy’s also has an in-house brewed organic green tea. This is used along with sweetened flavourings, but you can ask for the green tea plain and sweeten it yourself.
Low-Sugar Bottled Kombucha
Kombucha (pronounced kom-BOO-cha) is a lightly fermented effervescent tea beverage that can be found in some coffee shops, delis, and supermarkets. Some Kombucha teas are pretty low in sugar and it's great for digestion.
Kombucha has a slight fermented/alcohol taste. The alcohol content is no more than the low-alcohol beverages found in supermarkets.
I’ve found several brands that are lower in sugar:
GT’s Kombucha (By Synergy)
Available in US & Canada. I buy these at Whole Foods and at my local health food stores. It only has 4 grams of sugar per 480ml bottle.
Available in Citrus, Gingerade, Mulit-green, and Third Eye Chai. The Citrus is my favourite!
Only available in Canada. Check out their website to locate where they can be found (click here).
One serving, 250ml, of the vibrant blueberry flavour, has 4 grams of sugar. Each 355ml bottle has 5.6 grams of sugar.
Having a party? Check out the awesome cocktail recipes on Tonica's website.
Only available in Canada. You can find RISE Kombucha in health food stores, coffee shops and some restaurants. One 355ml bottle of rise has 6 grams of sugar and comes in lots of flavors like Lemongrass, ginger, etc.
My favorite is Blueberry Maple: Filtered water, kombucha culture, fair trade cane sugar*, fair trade black tea*, maple and blueberry herbal tea.
You can also buy RISE by the litre which is great for entertaining.