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.


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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  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.

    • I agree. I am a regular customer and i get the sugar-free mocha because I can’t drink much sugar. First the caramel and now the mocha. So sad. I will no longer be going to Starbucks.

    • I’m with you. I’m doing the Keto diet which is QUITE popular right now and the skinny mocha with heavy cream and water was the ONLY drink I could have. I tried the cinnamon dulce this morning it was horrible. I guess they have lost me as a customer too. Now I just have to try to figure out how to get the $25. back that I just loaded on my app. I guess starbucks is one of very few businesses in this pandemic that isn’t worried about losing customers.

  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.


    • 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!

    • They will not bring it back unless it is beneficial to them. They care less about customers. They won’t make decaf after 11:00am!!!! Seriously, their a coffee company. I shouldn’t have to pay for an americano if I don’t want one and their pour overs suck. Don’t count on them bringing anything back to please their loyal customers. I only go to Starbucks if it’s convenient

  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!!!!!

  17. I completely agree with Joseph N. regarding the sugar free mocha. I’ve been drinking the same drink every day for over 3 years with sugar free mocha from Starbucks and sometimes twice per day. It’s certainly not the only reason for my losing weight but it’s a big part of my being able to still have a drink at Starbucks every day but still stay within the calorie allowance I’ve budgeted. (I’ve been able to lose approx. 45 calories.)
    I choose to go to Starbucks every day strictly because they have this sugar free mocha option that most other coffee shops don’t offer. If Starbucks discontinues offering the sugar free mocha as rumored, then I will have no reason to choose Starbucks as my daily stop. I truly hope they re-consider this decision!

  18. I enjoyed the variety of flavors Starbuck’s offered for my sugar free lattes. The limited selection now is very disappointing. I used to look forward to my guilt free decadent coffee drinks at Starbuck’s. Now I look forward only to the Cinnamon Dolce. The vanilla was never an option for me because I didn’t really care for it.

    I hope Starbuck’s reconsiders their decision to do away with Mocha, Hazelnut and Caramel sugar free syrups. Even the Peppermint is gone. Now I’ll not be able to enjoy a Skinny Peppermint Mocha latte during the holidays. That was always a staple for me at time of year. Bah Humbug!

  19. I LOVE the sugar free caramel! Getting rid of it doesn’t make any sense to me. I asked the girl at Starbucks if its permanent and she was kind of rude, just replied “we haven’t had sugar caramel in like 2 years!” Um OK thanks.
    I bought an AMAZING sugar free salted caramel syrup made my Torani on Amazon, heat up a small cup of milk, make super strong coffee (or get a cheap aeropress to make an espresso)
    Add a few tablespoons of that syrup and it’s even better than Starbucks and A LOT cheaper! I win 🙂 lol.

  20. Just a little FYI, in Lubbock, TX, Peet’s Coffee, inside United Supermarkets, has a lot more sugar free flavors. I’m not sure if this coffee house is in other areas though.

  21. Lost my business. I can’t have the regular mocha as i have had gastric bypass. And the others taste too sweet. Agree that if i have to go sugar free vanilla i will just go to dunkin donuts or sheetz. They have sugar free vanilla that’s not as sweet at half the price.

  22. I’m never going to Starbucks again – ever.
    So, here it is:

    Homemade Skinny Mocha:

    1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder, 1-2 packets zero calorie sweetener, 1 cup hot coffee, Skim milk, Cocoa powder for garnish

    In a small mug or coffee cup, mix the cocoa and Sweet’N Low® together. Add a few tablespoons of the coffee and stir until the cocoa is completely dissolved. Pour in the remaining coffee. Foam the milk. Spoon a generous amount over the hot mocha. Garnish with a pinch of cocoa powder, if desired

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      That sounds amazing!

    • Iced version?

    • I will never go to Starbucks if I can help it, but have developed a cocoa mix to take to my locally owned (happily also minority and immigrant owned) coffee shop that had worked so hard to stay open through the pandemic and keep socially distanced seating available). There are small, water tight containers to put this in. I put a tablespoon of Dutch processed cocoa in the container, add a about a quarter cup of hot coffee, and stir. I can order an iced coffee with a little sugar free vanilla for sweetener at my local coffee shop and I’ll take the little container of mixed cocoa out of my handbag and stir it in.

      This is because real cocoa doesn’t dissolve in cold water. One of the difficulties with Starbucks was their cocoa syrup was a formula that required to be made in small batches by baristas who weren’t always so eager for the extra work… I can’t tell you how often I found them putting full sugar mocha into my skinny mocha drink, just for laziness… and my glucose meter reflected their laziness.

      I became diabetic because of my addiction to sweet drinks (mostly from Starbucks), so I can control it mostly by keeping the sugar out of my drinks, and therefore Starbucks is a very rare option for me, only where nothing else is available.

      I wish they’d understand this… it’s so nice that they’re up with the trends and giving scholarships to their employees and stuff, but it’s easy for a bunch of rich folk in some office near Seattle to make decisions about how the country should drink their coffee , and limiting the number of options for those of us who need sugar free is missing the mark. But hooray to starbucks for closing down their seating options throughout the country so those of us in locations where outdoor seating is common, could be forced to explore our locally owned small businesses that compete with Starbucks. Hopefully more people will have moved away from the out-of-touch Starbucks product line and will support more of their small businesses closer to home who might also have more willingness to offer varieties of drink flavorings that help their customers health needs.

  23. Christine Topping

    Will not be going to Starbucks again with them discontinuing the SF mocha…

  24. I’ve visited our Starbucks store in fulsome California two days ago and they said they no longer carry the yellow or the pink artificial sweeteners and that it was corporate decision?

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