Any day that I wake up and discover that a new coffee treat has arrived, giving me an ever-greater array of ways to caffeinate myself in the morning, is a good day — so hey, guess what? With news of Starbucks’ new Protein Blended Cold Brew drinks having just dropped this morning, it is a very good day, indeed. There, are however, a number of questions that have arisen in light of these blended treats' arrival: For example, are Starbucks’ Protein Blended Cold Brew drinks vegan? And it turns out that the answer is… complicated. For vegan folks, we’ve kind of got a good news/bad news situation.
Starbucks began trying out cold brew coffee as a menu option back in 2014 with a small test in the Boston area. Happily, it became a permanent menu item in 2015 — and ever since then, the company has been serving up not just straight-up cold brew, but a whole host of cold brew-adjacent treats: Nitro Cold Brew, Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew, Sweet Cold Brew Whipped Cream... the list goes on.
Now, two new blended drinks featuring the icy cold beverages have arrived on the menu — and they both pack a protein-fueled punch. Beginning Aug. 14, Almond Protein Blended Cold Brew and Cacao Protein Blended Cold Brew will be available at participating Starbucks locations across the United States for as long as supplies last. Made with almondmilk or coconutmilk, depending on the drink you order, they’re also both dairy-free — but let’s return to our original question: Are they vegan, too?
First, the good news: When made with the standard recipes, both drinks are plant-based and made completely of certified vegan ingredients — something which, notably, is a first for Starbucks. The Almond Protein Blended Cold Brew combines Starbuck Cold Brew, almondmilk, plant-based protein, almond butter, Banana Date Fruit Blend, and ice, while the Cacao Protein Blended Cold Brew blends up Starbucks Cold Brew, coconutmilk, plant-based protein, cacao powder, Banana Date Fruit Blend, and ice. Both feature pea and brown rice protein — 12 grams for the Almond Protein Blended Cold Brew and 10 grams for the Cacao Protein Blended Cold Brew.
However, although all of the ingredients used in the standard recipes for the Protein Blended Cold Brew drinks are certified vegan, the drinks themselves technically aren’t. Starbucks locations as a whole aren’t vegan establishments, which means that the drinks are prepared using shared equipment and tools which may also be used to prepare non-vegan drinks. As such, the final beverages have not been certified vegan — so, y’know, just… keep that in mind, vegan friends.
If you’re vegan, should you order Starbucks Protein Blended Cold Brew? Ultimately, the answer depends on how you feel about consuming something made with vegan ingredients that came from an establishment that isn’t strictly vegan. If that’s OK by you, then yes, you can safely order Starbucks Protein Blended Cold Brew. If, however, you’re only OK with consuming vegan food and drinks that come from places that only make vegan food and drinks, then you’ll probably want to skip these drinks.
Starbucks’ two Protein Blended Cold Brew drinks are available at participating Starbucks locations starting on Aug. 14 for as long as supplies last. A Grande size will set you back around $5.95. Oh, and if you want to customize yours, you can go ahead and do that, too: Feel free to adjust the amount of almond butter or cacao powder, ask to replace the Banana Date Fruit Blend with a whole banana, add extra protein, add a shot of espresso, replace the cold brew with some decaf espresso if you want something low-test… the possibilities are endless. What a time to be alive, am I right?