Starbucks serves approximately 60 million customers every week, but plant-based customers in the United States typically have a harder time ordering food, despite the company revealing that 25 percent of all beverage sales are driven by dairy-free options. Now, with a growing plant-based customer base, Starbucks is testing out vegan food to accompany your oat milk latte.

This week, Starbucks revealed that its testing 18 new menu items at three stores in Washington, D.C., and Virginia, and six of the menu items will be fully plant-based! Starbucks customers will be able to order lunch items featuring Daring's signature vegan chicken and JUST Egg's famous mung bean-based egg replacer for the first time. These plant-based lunch items include:

  • Plant-Based Chicken Sausage and Pepper Sous-Vide Bite: Special plant-based breakfast featuring a never-before-seen Daring jalapeño chicken sausage paired with JUST Egg's signature egg replacer.
  • Plant-Based Smoky Poblano & Black Bean Sous-Vide Bite: A small bite with a base of high-protein JUST Egg mixed with black beans, lime zest, sweet corn kernels, roasted poblano peppers, and smoky chipotle chili.
  • Plant-Based Chicken Sausage & Pepper Sandwich Mini: Starbucks' first-ever vegan chicken sandwich in the U.S., featuring the Daring chicken and JUST Egg's mung-bean plant-based egg.

“Starbucks continues to transform the way we drive innovation for the future of the company,” a Starbucks spokesperson told VegNews. “One of the ways we do this is by focusing on elevating the Starbucks Experience through testing and expanding our food menu.

"Testing is a way of life at Starbucks, and we continue to introduce new drinks and food to menus globally while innovating across key platforms like espresso, cold brew, refreshment, food, and more,”

Starbucks is also testing three additional plant-based pastry items in the new menu. The three bakery items are labeled with a "V" for vegan ingredients.

  • Warm Oatmeal Bite with Granola Crunch: Bites inspired by morning oatmeal, topped with crunchy granola.
  • Golden Ginger Coconut Boba Bite: A sweet treat inspired by Taiwanese boba tea featuring tapioca pearls, ginger, and turmeric.
  • Mocha Coconut Boba Bite: Another bit inspired by boba tea complete with coconut milk and chocolate.

Starbucks Testing Vegan Food and Drinks

This August, Starbucks debuted its first plant-based autumn-inspired drink with the Apple Crisp Oatmilk Macchiato. The dairy-free espresso drink joined the menu on August 30. However, fans expected to see a plant-based version of the iconic Pumpkin Spice Latte, which features a dairy-based syrup.

Despite commitments to reduce its carbon, water, and waste footprints by half by 2030, Starbucks' vegan menu lacks a variety of plant-based options. The company partnered with Impossible Foods in 2020 to release the Impossible Breakfast Sandwich. But this sandwich cannot be ordered vegan because it features dairy cheese and chicken eggs.

Last year, Starbucks added a vegan lunch option with the Chickpea Bites and Avocado Protein Box. This plant-based lunch item comes with avocado spread, carrot sticks, dried fruit, nuts, snap peas, and chickpea bites. When Starbucks initially tested the chickpea bites in 2021, the company also unveiled a Plant Powered Breakfast Sandwich made with vegan sausage and mung-bean egg, but the vegan sandwich has not appeared on national menus.

Starbucks Keeps the Plant-Based Milk Surcharge

Starbucks currently offers four different plant-based milk to cater to its plant-based or lactose-intolerant customers, including coconut, soy, oat, and almond. However, the Seattle-based coffee chain refused to discard the vegan milk surcharge. This April, Paul McCartney authored a letter that demanded the leaving Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson finally remove the surcharge. The letter was not met with a response.

Shortly after, Succession star James Cromwell teamed up with PETA to protest the vegan milk surcharge. The actor superglued his hand to the counter of a Midtown Manhattan Starbucks, where he advocated against Starbucks' dairy-free milk surcharge on a Facebook live stream.

“My friends at PETA and I are calling on Starbucks to stop punishing kind and environmentally conscious customers for choosing plant milks,” Cromwell said in a press release from PETA. “We all have a stake in the life-and-death matter of the climate catastrophe, and Starbucks should do its part by ending its vegan upcharge.”

Ordering dairy-free milk at Starbucks can cost up to $1 extra for espresso drinks and regular coffee. While Starbucks US has kept the surcharge, the company removed the surcharge at 1,000 locations in the United Kingdom, following a prank press release conducted by Switch4Good.

To see what's vegan at Starbucks, check out The Beet's Guide to Everything That's Vegan at Starbucks. 

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