Starbucks Says When Cost of Plant-Based Milks Come Down, They’ll Lower The Fees

|Updated Mar 30, 2020
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Will Starbucks drop the vegan tax? That's the question that remains unanswered after the 2020 shareholders call yesterday. The company continues to charge up to 80 cents more for plant-based milk in your latte or other beverage, even though it admits that traditional dairy is a large part of its carbon footprint. After weeks of ongoing protests against the company by celebrities like Alicia Silverstone, individuals, and PETA, at the shareholder's call in Seattle yesterday, Starbucks says it is going to "monitor" the situation closely. Meaning: No answer.

Starbucks won't say when it will drop the extra fees for plant-based milk in the coffees, just that they are looking at the extra amount that these milks cost them to procure, and when those costs come down, they plan to pass those savings onto the customer. A hedge.

In minute 40 of the open questions part of the call, answering a question from PETA, Kevin Johnson, the CEO read the question and then said, "Roz I am going to hand this over to you,"  (otherwise known as passing the buck.) At which point Roz Brewer (COO) explained that they are moving toward a "planet positive" initiative that gives back more than they take in terms of their carbon footprint, but she would not commit to a timetable for doing away with the surcharge on plant-based milk. She did say that Starbucks has introduced a variety of plant-based products including a Beyond Meat cheddar and egg breakfast sandwich in Canada and are planning to bring it to the US. but she did not say when.

Brewer reiterated their commitment to social responsibility but said the prices "are in line with the broader industry." Other companies do not charge the surcharge on plant-based milks, however, which she failed to add. "As you know the alternative milk costs more than dairy. We expect the costs to come down as the plant-based options mature and as the costs come down we can pass this on to our customers," Brewer explained. In other words, later.

“We’ll continue to innovate on plant-based alternatives and beverages,” she said: “We expect costs [of non-dairy milk] to come down as the supply chain for plant-based options matures and we will pass this onto our customers. We will watch this carefully.”

This is news. Just last month, consumers were protesting Starbucks because of its "vegan tax," even as the company attempts to offer more plant-based options. In December, a jackfruit grain bowl, vegan chocolate, and raspberry cake, and overnight oats were introduced to Starbucks locations in the UK. In January, the company added drinks made with almond milk, coconut milk, and oat milk.

PETA bought stock in Starbucks just to have a seat at the table. Their goal is to force the dialogue and represent the growing number of plant-based consumers. It appears to be working.

The 12 Best Non-Dairy Coffee Creamers For That Real Cream Taste

1. Califia Unsweetened Almond Milk Creamer

Califia Farms Almond Creamer is made with real almonds and coconut cream to give a rich, full-flavored texture and has 2 grams of added sugar. The consistency is so thick it’s more like a heavy cream rather than a creamer substitute. Regardless, it froths up well and is very creamy. The almond taste is noticeable but the creamer isn’t bitter or grainy. You don’t need to use a lot of it; a little goes a long way!

2. Silk Dairy-Free Original Soy Creamer

Silk Original Dairy-Free Original Soy Creamer has only 1 gram of added sugar, but sadly it does not froth up well when I heated it due to a thinner, more watery consistency. It didn't combine well with coffee, no matter how much was added. Because of the underwhelming flavor, this was my least favorite.

3. Coffee-Mate Natural Bliss® Unsweetened Plant-Based Half-and-Half

This Natural Bliss Coconut Milk Creamer/Sweet Cream is the best one I’ve found for both frothing and taste, especially if you miss the consistency and flavor of half-and-half. It’s creamy and has a hint of coconut, but no overwhelming coconut flavor. Note: it is made with pea protein, unlike the other ones, which is probably why it’s thicker. Always check ingredients if you have food allergies because unexpected ingredients such as peas can be hiding in the product, and you would never know by the taste.

4. So Delicious Organic Coconut Milk Creamer

So Delicious has been marketing dairy-free frozen desserts, yogurt alternatives, and smooth plant-based beverages for over 30 years. Besides the coconut milk, they also have “Original,” “Snickerdoodle.” “Caramel” and “Creamy Vanilla” flavors. I only sampled the coconut milk flavor. This is the only one in this taste test with 0 grams of added sugar. It has a very rich coconut taste and froths up nicely in coffee like milk. It’s not as thick as some of the others but is a good alternative to ultra-sweet creamers if you want to be careful about your sugar intake. The coconut flavor is powerful but not overwhelming.

5. CoffeeMate Natural Bliss Vanilla Oat Milk Creamer

Natural Bliss Oat Milk Creamer, Vanilla Natural Flavor, with 4 grams added sugar is similar to Coffee Mate’s Coconut creamer but without the coconut flavor. It’s super-rich and creamy with a hint of oat flavor but not bitter at all. My new favorite! This is the best one I’ve found for frothing and taste especially if you miss the consistency and flavor of half and half. It’s like the real thing as it’s creamy, fluffy and not grainy. Remember to shake it up before putting in your frother. Use a little and be happy with your non-dairy latte!

6. Original Oat-Ly Oat Milk Barista Edition

The Original Oat-Ly Oat Milk Barista Edition contains 4 grams of sugar but its full-flavored taste makes it a rich choice. It doesn’t market itself as a creamer but it does advertise as the choice for the barista community. It’s slightly less frothy than real milk when mixed but the flavor is pleasant, not bitter, and I would choose it again.

7. Silk Oat Yeah Oat Milk Creamer

Silk Oat Yeah Oat Milk Creamer, the Vanilla One has 4 grams of added sugar and is also at the top of my list. While it’s sweet, it’s also incredibly rich which means you can use less of it in your coffee. It was thick and creamy when frothed and it adds a fluffy cap to your coffee as lattes make with real cream. Note that pea protein is an added ingredient in this creamer as well. This can rival the real thing but choose this one only if you like a strong vanilla aftertaste!

8. Silk Vanilla Almond Creamer

The Silk Almond Creamer Vanilla boasts that it’s “America’s #1 Almond Creamer. But with 4 grams added sugar you may want to use it sparingly. It did taste sweet and was nice and thick, so someone who likes rich creamers will love it. The vanilla aftertaste was pretty strong. And it's a little too syrupy sweet for my taste.

9. Nut Pod Creamer Unsweetened Original

Nutpods is the closest you'll get to the real thing! Tasters immediately gave this dairy-free creamer a 5 out 5. The texture is smooth and mixes with coffee instantly. Unlike soy creamers, this almond and coconut-based creamer doesn't separate once your done stirring. Nut Pods is the most comparable to half and half in the whole list of creamers!

10. Forager Organic Dairy-Free Half & Half

Forager is cashew milk and coconut cream based that mixes for a unique and flavorful taste. The consistency was on the thinner side, and if you're a heavy cream or half-and-half devotee this is probably not the creamer for you, although those who like a lighter flavor will enjoy it.

11. Trader Joe's Coconut Creamer

This creamer is rich, round and doesn't taste too overtly of coconut. You only need a splash to achieve a nice, creamy effect in your coffee, and there's no watered-down consistency, so if you swear by heavy cream or half & half, give this Trader Joe's option a try! At only $1.69 per carton, this product is a steal.

12. Malk Organics Unsweetened Almond Malk

The thickest consistency of the bunch, resembling a heavy cream rather than half and half. Malk has only 5 ingredients, making it super clean and healthy! The almond flavor might be overpowering to those who like less flavor in their creamer. Add the Maple Pecan flavor to your coffee for an even sweeter taste.