Starbucks Corp. said Thursday it will replace whole milk with 2 percent for espresso drinks in all of its U.S. and Canadian stores by the end of the year.

Drinks in North America will soon be made by default with the lower-fat milk, but customers can still request their cappuccino with whole milk, the company said.

Starbucks said it made the switch based on increased requests from consumers for low-fat milk in stores, as well as increasing purchases of lower fat milk in U.S. consumers' homes.

The coffeeshop company tested the 2 percent espresso drinks in Jacksonville, Fla.; Orange County, Calif.; the state of Oregon; and London, Ontario, in Canada and said the results were "overwhelmingly positive."

A 16-ounce "grande" latte made with reduced fat milk has 190 calories, compared with 260 calories in one made with whole milk.

The company is also considering the switch to lower-fat milk in locations outside of North America.

Shares of Starbucks gained cents to $28.80 in afternoon trading.