Starbucks Ramps Up Plant-Based Beverages For 2020

Posted On: 1/8/2020

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SEATTLE -- It’s been 15 years since the first Starbucks soy latte just as plant-based milks were starting to gain in popularity. Little did the coffeehouse giant – or vending and OCS operators -- know the extent to which the trend would explode.

Starbucks added coconut milk to its lineup in 2015 and almond milk in 2016. The company’s research and development team also began creating new beverages to highlight the flavors of the non-dairy milks like Coconutmilk Mocha Macchiato and Horchata Almondmilk Frappuccino blended beverage. 

Now, the first new Starbucks beverages of the decade feature these plant-based milk alternatives with the arrival of the Almondmilk Honey Flat White and Coconutmilk Latte. The beverages join the permanent menu in stores in the United States and Canada starting Jan. 7 as part of the new winter food and beverage lineup. Jan. 7 also marks the regional introduction of oat milk as a new non-dairy option as the Oatmilk Honey Latte arrives in select U.S. markets in the Midwest.

When thinking about creating Starbucks newest beverages, product developer Raegan Powell knew just where to begin.

“We started with the coffee. Starbucks Blonde Espresso pairs well with the lighter texture of milk alternatives, especially almond milk. It’s a little bit nuttier, so it complements the almond-based milk,” Powell said.

She created a coffee-forward beverage with real honey to complement the almond flavor with a touch of sweetness. The Almondmilk Honey Flat White combines shots of Blonde Espresso with a Honey Blend and steamed almond milk, finished with the Flat White’s signature dot of foam.

For the Coconutmilk Latte, Powell and the team crafted the beverage using shots of Starbucks Blonde Espresso combined with steamed coconut milk and finished with a strike of cascara sugar.

“Coconutmilk is such a star on its own, we leaned into highlighting the coffee and the [coconut]milk,” Powell said. “We found that the cascara sugar on the top added a bit of sweetness without overpowering the beverage.”

Oatmilk, a fast-growing milk alternative, is known for its mild flavor and velvety foam, and has been on the menu at Starbucks stores in Europe since January 2018 and select Starbucks Reserve locations since March 2019. Starting today, approximately 1,300 participating stores in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin will begin to offer oat milk as an additional non-dairy option, along with the featured Oatmilk Honey Latte.

The Oatmilk Honey Latte is made with Starbucks Blonde Espresso infused with Honey Blend, and steamed oat milk with a honey topping that is both sweet and savory.

“Customers are looking for more ways to personalize their beverages,” Powell said. “We love how the nuanced flavor you get with plant-based milks pairs with espresso, either hot or iced. It’s a new way to start your new year.”