Starbucks Adds Dairy-Free Iced Toasted Vanilla Oat Milk Drink to Menu
Starbucks is trying its hardest to make your dairy-free coffee dreams come true. The international coffee chain has doubled down on its vegan development recently, integrating exciting new plant-based milk specialty drinks into its selection. Now, Starbucks is welcoming Springtime with the launch of the Iced Toasted Vanilla Oat Milk Shaken Espresso drink. The new dairy-free drink will join the company’s growing list of dairy-free shaken espresso drinks and vegan-friendly beverages.
The coffee giant currently offers four types of dairy-free milk alternatives including coconut, soy, almond, and oat milk. Last spring, the company teamed up with Oatly to introduce oat milk to its stores worldwide and subsequently caused a dairy-free frenzy that drained all of the company’s oat milk supply within weeks. Since then, Starbucks has recovered its supply and continues to introduce brand new oat milk specialty drinks.
The new Iced Toasted Vanilla Oat Milk Shaken Espresso drink will feature a signature Blonde espresso shot mixed into oat milk and infused with caramelized vanilla flavoring. This beverage is distinguished from other menu items because of its aerated texture, which is achieved by mixing the ingredients together using a handshaking technique similar to a martini.
Alongside the new Iced Toasted Vanilla Oat Milk Shaken Espresso, Starbucks’ menu also features two other flavors: The new Spring classic will join the Iced Brown Sugar Oatmilk and the Iced Chocolate Almondmilk on the permanent shaken espresso menu.
Starbucks’ Dominant Plant-Based Shift
Last year, Starbucks' CEO Kevin Johnson announced that the company had realized the higher demand for plant-based and dairy-free products, promising that it intended to cater to this rising demand with a "dominant shift" toward plant-based menu items. Following this announcement, Starbucks has worked to develop its retail, beverage, and food categories companywide.
Most recently, Starbucks debuted a dairy-free version of one of its most iconic products: The store-bought bottled Frappuccinos. The company unveiled two new flavors including Dark Chocolate Brownie and Caramel Waffle Cookie. The two flavors will be exclusive to the Oatmilk variety, marking the first time the company focused on ready-to-go vegan items.
Overall, the plant-based beverage market is increasing at an unprecedented growth rate of 14.3 percent, expected to reach $66.5 billion by 2028. Starbucks' new product model aims to capitalize on the growing industry, developing plant-based beverages with all four alternative milk offerings.
Starbucks has faced backlash for maintaining its dairy-free milk surcharge. Worldwide, the coffee giant continues to charge customers extra for substituting dairy milk for the four vegan milks on the menu. Late last year, the plant-based activism group Switch4Good released a prank press release that fooled news outlets, announcing Starbucks had reversed the surcharge so that customers didn't have to pay extra for dairy milk. Although the press release was debunked, Starbucks almost immediately announced that it would remove the plant-based surcharges from 1,020 locations in the UK, making its plant-based milk options more accessible than ever before, although the charge still remains in the US.
Alongside its strides in dairy-free beverage offerings, Starbucks is also working to expand its plant-based food category. The company recently teamed up with OmniFoods to launch vegan crab cakes at 170 Hong Kong locations, marking the first time the coffee chain had offered seafood. The company has also tested vegan food items within the United States, including Miyoko's vegan cream cheese.
Even more impressively, Starbucks launched a Greener Stores initiative that tested out a 50 percent vegan menu. The campaign aims to open 10,000 environmentally friendly stores by 2025. While many vegan food options have yet to be added permanently to menus, Starbucks' abundant tests signify a change coming in the near future.