Coffee giant Starbucks has announced it is launching a line of dairy-free bottled frappuccinos. Historically slow to react to plant-based demand, Starbucks is making up for lost time. The Frappuccino announcement comes after a slew of new plant-forward releases this year.
Frappuccinos have long been a favourite item on the Starbucks menu but this will be the first time ready-to-go versions will be vegan. Two flavours have been announced: Dark Chocolate Brownie and Caramel Waffle Cookie. Both will remain exclusive to the oat milk line. A ready-to-go plain coffee Frappuccino has not been announced, though can be made to order behind standard Starbucks counters.
Playing catch up
Dairy-free Frappuccinos are not the only new release to be announced. Alongside, a ready-to-drink oat milk cold brew has been unveiled. It will also be a Dark Chocolate flavour style.
“Starbucks has been a leader in the ready-to-drink coffee category since 1994 and we continue to focus on beverage innovation with the highest quality coffee and ingredients,” Chanda Beppu, vice president of channel development Americas at Starbucks said in a statement. “This year, we’re excited to provide customers with their favorite ready-to-drink Starbucks beverages in new flavors and formats, like Starbucks Cold & Crafted on Tap and the new Starbucks Frappuccino with Oatmilk.”
The new bottled drinks are touted for release into various retailers, including service stations and convenience stores in the U.S. The launch comes ahead of Starbucks’ new line of energy drinks that will use caffeine extracted from coffee fruit.
Plant-based problems for Starbucks
2021 saw the company targeted by the nonprofit Switch4Good. A fake press release was sent out claiming that Starbucks was dropping its surcharge for plant milk, in a bid to alleviate dietary racism that was propped up by the extra cost. The company was forced to issue a statement denying the move, creating backlash.
In the U.K. the plant milk charge has since been removed. It comes long after fellow coffee chains Costa and Pret A Manger dropped their surcharges in 2020. The U.S. continues to be at the mercy of extra costs for dairy-free drinks. Starbucks is trialling removing the surcharge in 1,000 of its locations, though it is unclear why it cannot make a country-wide gesture, as it did in the U.K.
The changing face of coffee
Just as dairy-free Starbucks fans are getting a bigger slice of the action, multiple studies are revealing that the future of coffee is somewhat unknown.
Last year, Compound Foods closed a $4.5 million funding round to continue their efforts to ferment coffee sustainably and without beans. It claims to be the same in terms of taste, experience, and even caffeine levels, just with none of the environmentally dubious activities.
Later the same year, scientists revealed data that predicted coffee will start to taste and smell different, as a direct result of climate change. The news neatly paves the way for developments within the cell-based sector, where coffee has been successfully grown already.
Most recently, scientists have claimed that coffee will become increasingly hard to source and expensive to buy. Again, the root cause is climate change. For this reason,cell-based developments may prove to be a viable alternative to regular bean harvesting, if price parity can be achieved.
lead photo by Juli Lianna from Pexels.