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Starbucks Reducing Number of Diabetic / Sugar-Free Options in Next Few Months

Starbucks has been a consistent fixture in my life, mostly due to how consistent it is.  No matter where I go in the world, I get the same cup of coffee.

I have a bunch of very specific food restrictions, and Starbucks has a lot of options for me.  Think sorta like type-1 diabetes, but unable to take insulin.  Unlike type-1 diabetes, this is (hopefully) not permanent.  I’m eating a certain way to help with an auto-immune disease that can target the pancreas.

starbucks

Yesterday, someone posted on Reddit that Starbucks is retiring 3 of its 5 sugar-free flavors without a plan to replace them with any other flavors.

The three flavors listed are sugar-free hazelnut, caramel, and mocha.

This leaves the sugar-free vanilla and the sugar-free dolce.

Starbuck’s reason for discontinuing some of the sugar-free flavors is because they aren’t as popular as the regular syrups.

Well, yeah.  Having the real thing tastes better than not having the real thing.  But many people can’t have the real thing.  So this was a great way of making the Starbucks drinks accessible to this group of people.

So why are the SF-vanilla flavors and the SF-dolce flavors more popular?  I’m pretty sure I know why.

Starbucks has done marketing campaigns in the past around a “skinny vanilla latte” and around a “skinny cinnamon dolce”.  Consumers view these specific beverages as waist-conscious, so default to ordering them when they want something “healthy*.”  (*we can debate this, but let’s not get into it right now).  They aren’t necessarily proactively ordering a “sugar-free beverage”.  They are proactively ordering a “lower-calorie beverage.”

I bet if they had done a campaign around a “skinny caramel macchiato,” they may have seen the same effect.  (Though that would be a hard one to pull off since the SF syrup does not look anything like the regular caramel, and the presentation of this beverage is part of its appeal).

Other people on Reddit tried asking Starbucks about this on Starbuck’s Facebook page.  So far, Starbucks has confirmed that SF-hazelnut and SF-caramel are being discontinued.  SF-mocha remains unclear.

But a note on the SF-mocha.  It isn’t merely a flavor–it’s a sugar-free drizzle syrup.  That means it’s thicker and is meant to have some sort of visual appeal as well.  Because of the way it is thickened, it contains simple carbs.  They may not literally be sugar, but it still can affect the body in nearly the same way.  So I avoid the SF-mocha on my part.

I’m hoping Starbucks reconsiders.  While these flavors don’t have mass appeal, they help meet the needs of a specific group of people (similar to, say, a gluten-free menu at a restaurant).

Looks like I’ll have to move on from my sugar-free hazelnut iced coffees.

About Jeanne Marie Hoffman

Former bartender, still a geek. One equal part each cookies, liberty, football, music, travel, libations. Stir vigorously. +Jeanne Marie Hoffman Jeanne on Twitter

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22 comments

  1. Ick. The Vanilla is too sweet. I would never drink it again. I agree that the sugar free Mocha is the best. I think it is 100% as good as the regular Mocha. If it goes away, Starbucks will lose my business. I am one of those people who is not buying them because I am diabetic, but because the calories in the regular drink is way over the top.

  2. Hi there! Totally a bummer. Just so you know though (I work at Starbucks), the skinny caramel machiatto is made with the sugar free vanilla syrup not sugar free caramel. The sauce that goes on top is never sugar free but you can still order the skinny caramel machiatto- it wont change. People often think it’s a caramel syrup in it but its vanilla syrup and then the caramel sauce. Hope this is at least a little happy news!

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      Thanks! The one I’m the most sad about is the hazelnut, because the vanilla can taste so sweet! Thanks for the insider knowledge 😀

  3. I am so ticked at Starbucks. I keep writing them telling them I will not be back. SF Hazelnut was my favorite and Caramel was my backup. Maybe if everyone keeps writing and writing and writing they will bring them back.

    • Yup same here, Venti Late with Sugar Free Hazelnut was my go to order, but no more… guess i have to find a new coffee place

      • Soy SFH for life!

        Starbucks has always been my treat and really gave me a kick, but guess it’s time to become more loyal to Dunkin once they stop serving SFH.

        *sigh*

    • Feel the same. I am diabetic and have always gotten skinny hazelnut lattes. Makes me say ” that is good” out loud each time. Caramel was my backup as well now I haven’t been in months!! Will find a new place I guess

  4. Yes, they care about profit more than their customers, if I am forced to use vanilla, how boring, I will just switch to McDonald’s it is half the price. You pay $5 for a drink you should be able to get what you want.

  5. Vanilla tastes terrible! Starbucks has pissed me off now!!!

  6. Been drinking a skinny hazlenut latte for as long as Starbucks came to Indianapolis. #madatstarbucks!

  7. Twice a day, sugar free caramel user….been in withdrawal since my Starbucks finally ran out…vanilla is not even close to the same or as good to me

  8. Was just told by my dr that I really had to reduce my suger intake. I’m really pissed about the discontinuation of sugar free caramel. You would think they could simply not stock as much sf but at least offer it. Maybe we should go on a campaign for as many people to order sf then the demand will change policy

  9. I have two children who work for Sbux – they told many months ago that SF Caramel, SF Hazelnut and SF Mocha were going to be discontinued. I had weight loss surgery four years ago and can not tolerate a lot of sugar. I wrote to Starbucks to complain….the actually wrote back and simply said that discontinuing these syrups was simply “here say”. Everyone (including store partners) knows that they SF syrups are on their way out. I do like the SF Cinnamon Dulce but now that will be my only choice – I don’t like the SF Vanilla either.

  10. I like the SF Vanilla, but I hate the SF Cinnamon Dolce – Too Sweet! Blech! I’m pissed there will no longer be SF caramel. Oh well, guess I’ll stick with no sweetner at all or make mine at home using the SF syrups from Jordan’s and Torani.

  11. Order the flat white or latte’ and bring your own sweeter (stevia/truvia)!
    Not much else you can do – or just go to Dunkin’

  12. I just learned this first hand in Silver Spring, MD. Always use the SFH and SFV at home. Plain Starbucks is too strong for me. They will lose my biz without SF syrups.

  13. I work at Starbucks. My store is a test store and currently all of our syrups are sugar free, they’re actually idk I guess essences best way to describe them and then we add sugar if they want it. It tastes much better now. That’s one of the reasons why they got rid of those two flavors.

  14. Starbucks should wake up on this one

  15. I tried to get a sf cinnamon dulche yesterday but no go. The only options were vanilla and mocha. I went with the vanilla which was ok but I miss my dulche. The barista suggested that Starbucks is trying to buy a syrup company and that may result in more sf options in the future. I wonder if anyone knows how true that is? Otherwise my locally owned espresso shops are really going to benefit from this.

  16. I really miss my SF Caramel syrup!!!! I really dislike the rest of the SF syrups just like the rest
    most of the people both the SF vanilla and the cinnamon dolce is way to sweet!!!
    I too have a medical condition that I need to have the SF syrup.
    It use to be the customer was always right and they were here to Please us the Customer but
    I guess we don’t matter anymore it’s just about the MONEY Star Bucks!!!!
    Maybe they’ll decide to make all their customers happy one day if they do they might
    text me because I won’t be back anytime soon Sorry Not Sorry!!!!!

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