Whether you’re eating plant-based for the first time or you’ve been vegan long before “being vegan” was a thing, Starbucks has more options than you’ll know what to do with. In addition to menu items that happen to be plant-based, there are lots of Starbucks vegan drink hacks that will keep you plenty caffeinated as well as animal byproduct-free.
Starbucks is no stranger to vegan drinks. In 2018, the company offered a limited-time plant-based blended cold brew. The Starbucks Protein Blended Cold Brew came in two flavors, almond and mocha, and was made with non-dairy milk and a vegan protein. Unfortunately, the drink is no longer available, and it should be noted that Starbucks’ current protein drink powders are not vegan.
But fear not vegan friends, there are still plenty of options if you’re looking for dairy-free and plant-based Starbucks drinks. For starters, if you’re wondering whether a sauce or topping uses animal byproducts, try using the Starbucks customize feature online. You’ll be able to see details like whether a specialty drink sauce is made with dairy (e.g. mocha sauce is vegan-friendly while caramel sauce uses milk). If you need some more inspiration, here are nine vegan hacks for Starbucks you’ll want to try ASAP:
1. Try The New Dairy-Free Drinks (just make sure to avoid honey)
At the start of 2020, Starbucks introduced two new non-dairy drinks including the Coconutmilk Latte. The vegan latte combines Starbucks Blonde Espresso with steamed coconut milk. It’s topped with a dusting of cascara sugar, which is made from the fruity outer layer of the coffee cherry.
Unfortunately, the second new drink — Starbucks Almondmilk Honey Flat White — is dairy-free but not vegan as it uses honey. However, you can order a normal Flat White made with almond milk to keep your drink plant-based.
2. Sub Out Sauces For Syrups
Unlike their sauces, many of Starbucks’s syrups are vegan. If you’re craving something chocolatey, ask for a Coconutmilk Mocha Macchiato with a regular Mocha base, instead of the White Chocolate Mocha base, and caramel syrup instead of caramel sauce.
3. A Seasonal Drink With No Whip, Please
As PETA points out in a blog post about vegan Starbucks drinks, a handful of seasonal drinks are vegan including the Peppermint Mocha, Chestnut Praline Latte, and Toffee Almondmilk Hot Cocoa. Just make sure you ask for your non-dairy milk of choice and no whip. Unfortunately, the famed Pumpkin Spice Latte is not vegan as its sauce includes dairy. However, you can order a makeshift vegan PSL by asking for a Vanilla Latte with Soy milk, Almondmilk, or Coconutmilk topped with a few shakes of the Pumpkin Spice topping mix, which is vegan.
4. Order A Frappuccino But Avoid Java Chips
Like Starbucks Lattes, many of the Starbucks Frappuccinos can be made vegan with a few simple swaps. Ask for no whip, your non-dairy milk of choice, and make sure to sub out sauces for syrups. Also, Starbucks Java Chips are made with milk. You can still get a Java Chip Frapp, which starts with a mocha base that happens to be vegan. Just make sure you ask for no Java Chips.
You can also try vegan Frappuccinos like the Salted Caramel Mocha Frappuccino (ask for caramel syrup instead of the sauce) or the secret menu Nutella Frapp (a mocha frappucino with hazelnut syrup, non-dairy milk, and no whip).
5. All Oatmilk Everything!
Starting January 2020, 1,300 Starbucks locations in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin will start serving oat milk. Please rejoice accordingly. The company’s blog post on Starbucks introducing oat milk doesn’t specify whether it plans on making it a permanent option on menus across the country. However, if you happen to live in the Midwest, you can hold this sweet, vegan news over the heads of your coastal friends.
6. Start With An Americano And Build From There
If you know you’re craving caffeine but aren’t sure what else, start with espresso and go from there. Add coconut milk and hazelnut syrup to an iced Americano for a nutty, cold drink. Ask for a pump of mocha syrup in your hot Americano for a subtler vegan mocha.
7. Want Something Pretty? Get An Ombré Iced Coffee
Just because you can't partake in whipped cream and cold foam doesn't mean you can't get a pretty drink. Ask for an iced coffee with your non-dairy milk of choice on top and say you don't want the two mixed.
8. Want Something Frothy? Try The Nitro Cold Brew
While the Starbucks cold foams are dairy-based, you can still get your caffeine and "cream" fix with a Nitro Cold Brew. The texture is smoother than your standard cold brew or iced coffee, and the bubbles from the nitrogen add a foamy head to the drink. Add a pump of your favorite syrup to make it even sweeter.
9. Want Something Else Entirely? Go For Something Fruity
If you're looking beyond coffee but still want to stay caffeinated, many of Starbucks fruit-based drinks happen to be vegan. The beloved Pink Drink, which went from the secret menu’s worst kept secret to actual menu staple? Vegan! A Grande Matcha Lemonade? Plant-based as well. Have you tried the Starbucks violet drink? This not-so-secret menu item combines the Very Berry Hibiscus Starbucks Refresher and coconut milk and is topped with a mix of berries and hibiscus. It is the dictionary definition of “Instagram-worthy.”
And Starbucks drink hack tip number 10 is to tip your barista. Happy caffeinating!