Going on a plant-based diet means giving up foods like meat, dairy products, and other animal byproducts.
Unfortunately, for coffee drinkers, that means milk, heavy cream, and certain flavored syrups can’t be added to their morning fix, which leads many to wonder what they are supposed to order from coffee shops like Starbucks.
Many people know that Starbucks offers several drinks that they can enjoy on a vegan diet. However, they may not know that any of their drinks can be made vegan if they know what to ask for.
There are plenty of alternative kinds of milk and plant-based additions that Starbucks baristas have on hand to craft a superb drink that tastes as good as the original.
This article will highlight some of the most popular coffee orders at Starbucks and teach you how to alter them to make the drinks vegan-friendly.
Check out some popular drinks on the Starbucks menu that are also vegan. If you don’t want one of these drinks, we’ll discuss how to ask for any drink to be vegan below!
Espresso-based coffee drinks like the caffe latte are not only Starbucks bread and butter but are some of the most popular drinks consumed in America.
The word “latte” means milk in Italian. A traditional caffe latte is made by combining a shot (or two, or three) of espresso with a large volume of steamed milk and minimal foam.
Caffe lattes are often adorned with patterns of milk foam on the beverage’s surface, called latte art. The drink traditionally has a rich and creamy texture.
You can easily make the caffe latte from Starbucks vegan-friendly by specifying alternative milk.
Oat milk is a popular choice and a favorite of baristas because it mimics the full body of regular cow’s milk. In addition, it blends nicely with the espresso in a caffe latte and can be foamed, which is not the case for all alternative kinds of milk.
Coconut milk’s high-fat content also makes it a great contender for latte milk alternatives. The milk usually has only a slight coconut flavor and is incredibly thick and creamy.
It doesn’t foam up as well as dairy milk or oat milk, but this is less important in a latte than it would be in a drink like a cappuccino.
An Americano is a coffee drink consisting of espresso and water that can be enjoyed either hot or over ice. It has a bold, rich taste that is a step above plain black coffee.
Americanos are vegan-friendly in their traditional form. However, many people prefer to add something extra to their order.
For example, they use non-dairy milk or ask for any of their clear syrups.
Generally speaking, clear syrups are absent from dairy products, whereas their mocha and pumpkin spice syrups contain animal byproducts. Starbucks has plenty of syrups to flavor your drinks!
All Starbucks brewed coffees are vegan-friendly.
Of course, just because you’re vegan doesn’t mean that you necessarily like the taste of plain black coffee.
I have never been able to get used to the bitterness in a plain cup of brewed coffee, even from a place with great beans like Starbucks.
The solution is to jazz up your black coffee with non-dairy creamer or milk like almond, coconut, soy, or oat.
If you want to add a little flavor to your coffee, Starbucks offers vegan-friendly syrups like vanilla, Irish creme, and hazelnut.
A flat white is an espresso-based drink traditionally made with steamed whole milk and ristretto espresso shots.
A ristretto espresso shot is created using the same amount of coffee as a regular shot of espresso but with less water. The result is a stronger, more concentrated shot.
When combined, a flat white has a similar texture to a latte but with a bolder coffee flavor from the ristretto espresso. It is usually topped with a thin layer of foam as well.
The simplest way to order a vegan flat white is to ask the barista to make it with your favorite non-dairy milk.
Blended Strawberry Lemonade
Sometimes when you’re out and about on a hot summer’s day, even an iced coffee doesn’t sound very refreshing.
In that case, you may want to consider trying Starbucks Blended Strawberry Lemonade. The drink is simply a mixture of their signature lemonade and strawberry puree, both of which vegans can enjoy.
The drink is also made with the company’s signature “Creme Frappuccino Syrup.” Contrary to what its name might suggest, the syrup does not contain dairy.
Instead, it is a blend of sugar, water, salt, xanthan gum, and other ingredients that are used as an emulsifier.
The drink is similar to the company’s blended acai refresher, but it is described as being both cheaper and more flavorful, which is likely because of the concentrated lemonade they use.
It has a slushie-like texture and makes for an excellent pool-side beverage. Check out other popular iced drinks from Starbucks for the summer.
Iced Sugar Cookie Almond Milk Latte
Starbucks Iced Sugar Cookie Almond Milk Latte is, as its name suggests, a vegan-friendly choice to enjoy when the holidays roll around.
It is a standard latte made with almond milk instead of whole milk and blonde espresso. It was the first Starbucks holiday-themed drink that is vegan without any substitutions.
Starbucks blonde espresso is made with their signature Blonde Roast. It is a medium-light blend from Latin America described as a softer variation of their regular coffee.
The drink has several layers of flavors that make it a joy to drink. It has a rich, buttery taste from the sugar cookie syrup and a mellow warmth from the espresso.
Surprisingly, it isn’t overly sweet. I also enjoy the little sprinkles they add on top, which remind me of decorating the sugar cookies I made around the holidays as a kid.
One of the most beloved unique drinks to come out of Starbucks is the Pink Drink. It first came on the scene in 2016 and was invented by the coffee shop’s customers.
Before long, it was a staple of the establishment’s “secret menu” before making its way onto the permanent menu the following year.
It’s a fan favorite for a reason. The drink combines the sweet and refreshing zing of Starbucks’ Strawberry Acai Refresher with coconut milk.
It has subtle accents of passion fruit as well. The result is a fruity, creamy concoction with a gorgeous soft pink color and topped with a scoop or two of freeze-dried strawberries.
Both coconut milk and the Refreshers, which we’ll talk about in a moment, are vegan-friendly items, so you won’t need to ask for any substitutions when ordering the Pink Drink.
Iced Brown Sugar Oat Milk Shaken Espresso
Another unique vegan beverage on the Starbucks menu is Iced Brown Sugar Oat Milk Shaken Espresso.
This espresso-based beverage is made with their signature oat milk blend, three shots of blonde espresso, four pumps of brown sugar syrup, and cinnamon powder.
Starbucks uses Korintje ground cinnamon, a type of Indonesian ground cinnamon. This particular cinnamon has a bittersweet, woodsy flavor that compliments the richness of the dark espresso blend.
It also goes well with various teas and milk-based beverages on its menu.
The barista will shake the syrup, cinnamon, and espresso together before adding the oat milk and topping it off with ice.
The final drink is light and refreshing iced coffee that tastes good any time of the year.
Cold Brew with Cinnamon Almond Milk Foam
Starbucks cold brew is made by slow-steeping a custom blend of coffee beans for 20 hours.
Then, the barista combines vanilla syrup and cinnamon and pours the drink over ice.
The drink is then topped with a thick layer of almond milk cold foam, a fan favorite for its smooth and vibrant flavor.
Since this drink is already vegan-friendly, you won’t have to order anything special.
However, if you have a nut allergy and can’t drink almond milk, oat or soy milk would be excellent alternatives.
Iced Shaken Green Tea Lemonade
The Iced Shaken Green Tea Lemonade is another incredibly refreshing vegan beverage on the Starbucks menu.
The recipe is simple. It combines herbal green tea with lemongrass, lemon verbena, lemonade, and mint, shaken together and served over ice.
The result is a bright, tangy drink that tastes just like the lemonade from childhood with a grown-up hint of green tea flavor.
It is guaranteed to cool you down on the hottest of summer days.
Starbucks isn’t just a place for coffee lovers. The restaurant also has a range of tea drinks on its menu, including brewed teas, tea lattes, matcha lemonade, etc.
While the brewed teas are vegan, some more complicated beverages require some creative substitutions.
For example, drinks like the Vanilla Chai Latte or the London Fog Tea Latte start with tea as their base and add steamed milk to create a creamy, frothy, tea-flavored beverage.
Substitute the dairy milk in any tea latte with your favorite plant-based milk and enjoy it as normal.
Starbucks also has a Matcha Green Tea Frappuccino on the menu. Frappuccinos are traditionally frozen coffee drinks made of ice, milk, and coffee.
You can still enjoy this refreshing herbal frappe, but make sure to order it with non-dairy milk to make it vegan.
Starbucks offers a line of fruity caffeinated beverages for their customers that don’t like the taste of coffee.
These Refreshers come in various tasty flavor combinations, are low-calorie treats, and are naturally vegan-friendly.
There are more than a dozen Refreshers to choose from, as well as versions with added coconut milk or lemonade. These drinks also contain inclusions or scoops of freeze-dried fruit that complement the theme of the beverage.
The Pink Drink, Mango Dragonfruit Lemonade, Strawberry Acai Lemonade, and Very Berry Hibiscus Refresher are some of the most popular.
Like the Pink Drink, many Refreshers have versions with color-specific names. For example, the Violet Drink is simply the Very Berry Hibiscus Refresher with ice and coconut milk.
The result is a light purple-colored beverage flavored with blackberries.
Overall, these fruity, colorful drinks are vegan-friendly and can be altered to accommodate your taste preferences.
If you’re an “order a single shot of espresso” kind of person, I salute your bravery and envy the caffeine buzz you get to enjoy.
Unfortunately, I have never been able to enjoy the flavor or benefits of plain espresso.
Espresso is simply water and coffee grounds. Therefore, it is a solid vegan-friendly option.
Starbucks makes their espresso with their Dark Espresso Roast blend, a smooth, strong, and dark taste.
If you are interested in drinking plain espresso but want to start with a more mellow option, try ordering a shot of their Blonde espresso.
Starbucks Non-Dairy Milk Options
Most Starbucks locations offer several non-dairy milk options, including almond milk, soy milk, oat milk, and coconut milk.
As we’ve discussed, not all non-dairy milk options are created equal. They vary in taste, flavor, and texture, and some foam up better than others.
So what type of non-dairy milk you order for a cappuccino may not be the same one you order for a latte.
They also have different nutrition elements. The soy milk at Starbucks contains 150 calories and 14g of sugar for a tall order.
Almond milk has 80 calories and 4g of sugar, coconut milk has 110 calories and 8g of sugar, and soy milk has 150 calories and 14g of sugar.
Unfortunately, most Starbucks locations also charge more for non-dairy milk substitutions. Although the final fee varies from region to region, you can generally expect to pay between 50 and 60 cents extra. Some refer to this as the “vegan tax.”