Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte is as synonymous with Fall as leaves changing colors. However, vegan customers have been excluded from the autumnal celebration since the drink's inception in 2003. Despite introducing several new plant-based beverages, Starbucks has yet to revamp its Pumpkin Spice Latte to cater to dairy-free customers. This year, the company revealed that its ushering in Fall with a dairy-free seasonally-inspired beverage, the Apple Crisp Oatmilk Macchiato.

Starbucks will officially launch the vegan beverage on August 30, joining the company's long-standing Fall menu. The oat milk macchiato uses the Blonde Espresso base, combined with apple, cinnamon, and brown sugar flavors. Customers can order the new beverage cold, hot, or blended. To mirror the traditional dessert, the beverage is finished with a spiced apple drizzle.

“Crafting the Apple Crisp Oatmilk Macchiato with Starbucks Blonde Espresso gives the beverage a soft and smooth foundation that ties all the flavors together,”  Starbucks beverage developer Harvey Rojas Mora said in a statement. “The oat milk adds a creaminess and brings forward the oat flavors of a traditional apple crisp topping.”

Last year, the company debuted the Apple Crisp Macchiato with a dairy base for its Fall menu. The specialty drink was inspired by apple cider doughnuts, apple pies, apple crisps, and apple maple syrup.

“As you know, the Apple Crisp Macchiato was first introduced last year, and is returning this year with oat milk and Starbucks Blonde Espresso as the standard recipe,” a Starbucks spokesperson told VegNews. “We are always listening to our customers and partners (employees) and evolving our menu to meet their unique tastes and preferences. As interest in alternative dairy continues to grow, we’re thrilled to bring our customers Starbucks' first non-dairy fall beverage.”

Protesting Starbucks' Vegan Milk Upcharge

While Starbucks continues to introduce plant-based specialty drinks to its main menu, the company is facing serious backlash for failing to drop the vegan milk upcharge at its stores. This May, actor James Cromwell even superglued his hand to a counter of a Manhattan Starbucks to protest the plant-based upcharge.

In January, the Seattle-based coffee company removed its surcharge at about 1,000 locations in the United Kingdom but has yet to announce plans to drop the charge in the United States. Even Sir Paul McCartney pleaded with then-CEO Kevin Johnson to drop the surcharge before he retired from his position.

Starbucks is slowly testing new plant-based options in the United States, but its international branches have accelerated its vegan-friendly options. Most recently. Tata Starbucks in India partnered with Imagine Meats to develop a fully plant-based menu featuring vegan sausage croissant rolls, vegan croissant buns, and vegan hummus kebab wraps.

More Dairy-Free Starbucks Drinks Than Ever

Currently, Starbucks offers four different plant-based milk options, including coconut, oat, almond, and soy. Starbucks intends to expand its plant-based offerings worldwide to meet its goal of cutting its carbon footprint by 50 percent.

Beyond in-store plant-based food and dairy-free drinks, the company is also expanding its retail sector. For Pumpkin Spice lovers who gave up the drink to go vegan, Starbucks launched a Dairy-Free Pumpkin Spice Creamer to replicate the beverage at home last year.

Before the Summer ends, check out The Beet's picks for the best-selling vegan cold beverages at Starbucks! 

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Fast-food restaurants have finally got the memo that their customer base isn’t just coming through for a burger, fried chicken, or a beef taco. Many now have plant-based foods and are coming up with creative, delicious ways to get more greens on the menu. Here are the 6 best fast-food chains with plant-based options on the menu.

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