I avoided Starbucks Via Iced Coffee last summer, but this summer I tried one, the caramel flavor, and OMG, I got totally addicted to it. This stuff is yummy, at least when it’s served ice cold with bunches of ice cubes.
There was just one problem… There are 24 grams of sugar in each packet, and I often have two tall glasses in a row, making for about a week’s worth of sugar in the space of an hour. Not so good.
I avoid sugar as much as possible, and even though I cheat every once in a while, this is just way too much for my taste.
Ditto for the caffeine. I much prefer decaf, but there’s no sugar free and decaf iced coffee to be had, not at Starbucks anyway.
So I had to take action. And I was particularly motivated since it was just too plain hot to even walk over to Starbucks to replenish my Via supply.
Step 1: Buy instant coffee
I got several kinds to be able to find one that worked well – and I got lucky at first (and second) try.
As I’m experimenting with recreating a sugar-free version, I’ve gotten some instant coffee powder, (Medaglia D’Oro Instant expresso coffee, and Nescafe Taster’s Choice Decaf).
Both of them are very tasty – Nescafe is for decaf, and if I want a bit of caffeine, I can add some Medaglia D’Oro or use it instead.
Step 2: Add the flavoring
First, I tried the sugar free Caramel syrup they sell at Krogers. Interestingly, the taste wasn’t quite right.
So then I ordered
some liquid stevia (English Toffee flavor) and while that was better, it was too heavy on the toffee. I like Via’s very subtle flavoring.
Step 3: Fine-tuning
First, I tried to replace some of the Toffee stevia with Vanilla stevia, and that was better, but still not quite right.
And then I thought of Xylitol. I love that it has the texture of sugar, so I poured in a couple of teaspoons of Xylitol and added just 10 drops of the toffee flavor.
Of course, I also added some cream or half-and-half till it had the right color, as I had done in ALL of my experimentation. Plus ice cubes.
And guess what? I love it!
Now I have to go back to Starbucks (as soon as I can stand it) and get another packet of Starbucks Via Iced Coffee Caramel – so I can comparison test it and maybe even tweak my recipe. Though I must say, what I’ve got right here, on my desk (though at a safe distance from my ibook), is pretty darn near perfect.
Starbucks Via Caramel Iced Coffee Knock-Off Cost Savings Factor:
That’s the best part – my do it yourself version is way cheaper than the Starbucks Via, though I have to admit that there was an initial investment…
a) Nescafe Decaf
They had small packets for $1.20, so I got one of those first to experiment with. Once I decided this was great stuff, I got a full-sized container, which was about $11, and good for about 100 cups (or maybe 70, since I like my coffee a bit stronger). And it wasn’t even on sale…
b) Flavored Stevia
I got the SweetLeaf Liquid Stevia, English Toffee flavor, on Amazon. Although your local health food store might have it too. It was just too darn hot to drive over and get some right now. (No A/C in my car!).
Investment: about $11-$13. Good for about 150 10-drop servings.
I happen to have some of that around the house because it’s one of my favorite sweetener (yoghurt, oatmeal, etc.).
One brand I like is XyloSweet, and that is about $7-10/pound, and less if you buy a bigger package. On the package it says it yields about 113 1-teaspoon servings (per pound).
Can you use unflavored Stevia instead? Sure. What about other sweeteners? Probably. I prefer my natural ones, but I bet you can use those little yellow or pink packets as well.
Key Benefits of Making Homemade Sugar Free Starbucks Via Caramel Iced Coffee
Well, there are more benefits than I even expected:
1) It’s Sugar Free!
Yay! No more triggering of my sugar addiction and getting my sugar metabolism out of whack!
2) It’s Caffeine Free (when I want it to be)
Yay again! No more thumping heart beats or caffeine jitters. No more trouble sleeping, and no more problems with overstimulating my adrenals.
3) It Saves Money
Well, gosh. I hadn’t even thought of that at first when I started experimenting, especially when I went at it with the Caramel syrup from the store.
But my current recipe, with start-up expenses of about $30, which would buy me about five packets of Starbucks VIA Caramel Iced Coffee with 5 packets each inside, for a total of 25 16 fl oz servings.
And I’ve tallied the yield of my home-made version for a big glass of icy yumminess.
So depending on your preferences, you can get 70 big glasses of Iced coffee, and have enough of the stevia left over for another 70 or so glasses, so you only need to replenish the coffee and the Xylosweet for the next set.
So for about $50 you can get 140+ large servings of Iced coffee, which means, a serving is about $0.36!
The original VIA costs $5.95 for 5 servings, which means, each one is $1.19 per serving.
So the home-made version costs about 30% of the real deal, and it’s sugar-free to boot! Not too shabby.
And if you end up using other sweeteners for the Xylitol, it’ll be even less.
4) It’ll Be There Any Time You Want It!
The thing that bothered me most about the Starbucks VIA Caramel Iced Coffee was that it was supposedly a special promotion, which means, it might become unavailable at some point – i.e., late summer. Yikes!
Thanks for getting me addicted to this stuff and then pulling it off the market and making me wait till next summer, when it MAY reappear!
I like the idea of being able to enjoy this concoction at ANY time, without having to raid all the Starbucks stores to build up enough supplies to last me through winter.
Or run around all the grocery stores to find one that sells it too. My neighborhood Kroger only sells the regular VIA iced coffee, not the caramel kind.
And now, I won’t have to worry about any of that anymore.
I’ll still buy the “real thing” every now and then, but I’ll supplement it with plenty of home-made sugar-free decaf “Starbucks Via Caramel” Iced Tea!