With a new year, comes a bevy of exciting new beverages — if you’re Starbucks anyway. This year, Starbucks is rolling out an entire menu full of drinks sans dairy. The world-famous coffee chain started serving soy lattes way back in 1997, added coconut milk to its lineup of milk alternatives in 2015 and almond milk joined the family in 2016. The addition of these dairy-free milk alternatives saw the rise of fan-favorite drinks like the Coconutmilk Mocha Macchiato and the Horchata Almondmilk Frappuccino blended beverage. Now, Starbucks is adding two new drinks to its new dairy-free menu and a new plant-based milk alternative: oatmilk.
Let’s talk about those new drinks first. Starbucks has added an Almondmilk Honey Flat White and a Coconutmilk Latte to their line up and naturally, we had to try them. According to Starbucks, “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.” The coconut milk latte is made with shots of Starbucks Blonde Espresso combined with steamed coconut milk and is then finished with a strike of cascara sugar. Unfortunately, we could not find the strike of cascara sugar in our Coconutmilk Latte (the drink to the left in the picture below).
So how did they taste? Our deputy editor Erika tried the Coconutmilk Latte. “I was pleasantly surprised by this drink, because I don’t normally like coconut milk in coffee, despite the fact that I love coconut. But this tasted creamy and not overpoweringly coconutty or too sweet — perhaps because my order didn’t come with the promised ‘strike of cascara sugar’ on top.”
One of our video producers, Sam tried the Almondmilk Honey Flat White but first pointed out that it felt kind of weird that Starbucks is now advertising a dairy-free menu, despite offering milk alternatives for fifteen years. “First of all, I’ve been getting my Starbucks drinks with either soy or almond milk for years and years, so I was initially a bit confused about the idea of their new dairy-free menu. To me, the entire menu is dairy-free, as long as you order something with a milk substitute and don’t get whipped cream. But I guess the representation of dairy-free alternatives is nice, as a lactose-intolerant consumer. I feel seen.”
As far as the taste of the new beverage, Sam found it ever so slightly lacking. “I will say that I would think a drink called the Almondmilk Honey Flat White would be a bit sweeter with the addition of the honey but that’s not the case. The drink actually doesn’t taste sweet to me at all. It just tastes like a normal flat white. It does taste a bit nutty, as almond milk itself has a nutty flavor. In my opinion, it’s also not as rich as a lot of milk alternatives (soy, oat, and coconut are all creamier). If you’re someone who is a fan of hazelnut flavors and doesn’t mind sacrificing a little richness in your coffee, you might consider giving almond milk a try.”
OK, so we enjoyed but weren’t blown away by the new beverages but the dairy-free options are definitely nice. Now back to that oatmilk. It was without a doubt, the trendiest beverage of 2019 and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere in 2020.
According to Starbucks, oatmilk “is known for its mild flavor and velvety foam” and “starting today, approximately 1,300 participating stores in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin will begin to offer oatmilk as an additional non-dairy option, along with the featured Oatmilk Honey Latte.” The Oatmilk Honey Lattes aren’t offered here in New York so we weren’t able to try them but Starbucks describes them as “made with Starbucks Blonde Espresso infused with Honey Blend and steamed oatmilk with a honey topping that is both sweet and savory.” Sweet and savory is definitely something I would be willing to try. Starbucks, please bring these to New York soon!