Starbucks' New Lavender Latte Is Made with Oat Milk—But It’s Not Dairy-Free

Spring is in the air and that means it’s time for new offerings on the Starbucks menu. This year, the coffeehouse giant is finally jumping on to the lavender latte trend with two new offerings, Iced Lavender Cream Oatmilk Matcha and Iced Lavender Oatmilk Latte.

Starbucks

These new beverages, both made with oat milk, are infused with the floral and delicate flavors of lavender and aim to capture the essence of spring’s rejuvenation and renewal. 

“Lavender is the perfect flavor to transition us from the winter season into spring,” Patrick Penny, a beverage developer at Starbucks, said in a statement. “Its soft sweetness, light floral notes, and beautiful color ignite feelings of rejuvenation and awakening associated with the change of seasons.”

Despite the refreshing concept, there’s a significant detail for consumers anticipating a fully plant-based experience: the presence of dairy in what might otherwise be perceived as vegan-friendly drinks.

Is the New Starbucks Oatmilk Lavender Matcha Latte dairy-free?

While the Iced Lavender Cream Oatmilk Matcha and its companion latte might seem like a vegan’s spring dream come true, there’s a catch. The use of oat milk suggests a dairy-free base, aligning with a growing demand for plant-based alternatives. The Lavender Oatmilk Latte is indeed dairy-free throughout and features Blonde Espresso combined with oat milk, ice, and a subtle note of lavender.

However, the introduction of lavender cream cold foam—made with Vanilla Sweet Cream—contains dairy, in the Lavender Cream Oatmilk Matcha creates a paradox for those adhering to a vegan diet.

VegNews.LavenderOatmilkMatcha.StarbucksStarbucks

“When creating the new Iced Lavender Cream Oatmilk Matcha, we wanted to capture the uplifting energy of spring in a cup,” Penny said. “The vibrant green matcha topped with lavender-hued cold foam delivers a delightfully colorful and unexpectedly delicious flavor combination.”

This approach, blending the green vibrancy of matcha with the floral notes of lavender, suggests a celebration of spring’s palette. Yet, the decision to include dairy in an otherwise plant-based drink points to a gap in fully embracing vegan-friendly innovations.

Customers took to social media to both celebrate the new beverages and also express confusion. “I’m confused by the (includes dairy),” one commenter posted on Instagram, adding, “If I order oat milk, I’m expecting it’s dairy-free.”

Another customer expressed a similar concern. “Why put dairy foam on a non-dairy drink?” the commenter posted. “That doesn’t make sense. Please bring non-dairy cold foam to the menu.” 

Starbucks did launch an almond milk cold foam back in 2020 but the item is no longer on the menu. 

“Starbucks does not currently offer non-dairy Cold Foams,” a Starbucks spokesperson tells VegNews. “For customers who are dairy-free, we recommend the Iced Lavender Oatmilk Latte or adding lavender powder to any favorite non-dairy beverages, such as an Iced Shaken Oatmilk Espresso.”

Both beverages are available for a limited time at Starbucks locations nationwide. 

Starbucks gets into dairy-free lattes

The shift towards non-dairy alternatives is becoming increasingly prevalent in the coffee industry, with major players such as Starbucks recognizing the environmental benefits of plant-based milk over traditional dairy—which accounts for a whopping 21 percent of the chain’s carbon footprint. 

In 2021, Starbucks expanded its vegan milk offerings by adding oat milk to its menu, showcasing it in the popular Iced Brown Sugar Shaken Oatmilk Espresso. 

VegNews.Oleato1.StarbucksStarbucks

Exploring the versatility of oat milk, Starbucks has since introduced a variety of beverages utilizing this dairy alternative. A notable innovation was the Oleato Gingerbread Oatmilk Latte, part of the Oleato series, which uniquely combines arabica coffee with Partanna cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil for a vegan-friendly twist.

Under its dairy-free milk beverage platform, Starbucks has been exploring a variety of options, including the Iced Hazelnut Oatmilk Shaken Espresso (a permanent addition); the seasonal Apple Crisp Oatmilk Shaken Espresso; and Iced Sugar Cookie Almondmilk Latte, which launched as the brand’s inaugural vegan holiday drink in 2021. 

Starbucks misses the mark with the pork latte

Starbucks’s newest Iced Lavender Oatmilk Latte adds to the coffeehouse giant’s dairy-free offerings. Yet, the launch of the Lavender Cream Oatmilk Matcha represents another instance where Starbucks has not fully aligned with sustainability goals this year.

The global chain aims to cut its waste, water use, and carbon emissions by half by 2030. 

“At Starbucks, we promise to give more than we take from the planet,” a statement on Starbucks’s Stories page reads. “Our comprehensive approach is built on our commitment to build a more sustainable, equitable, and resilient future for coffee, farmers, communities, and our planet.”

In a bold move last month, Starbucks China introduced the “Abundant Year Savory Latte,” created for the Lunar New Year, featuring an unconventional ingredient: a piece of pork. This beverage combines espresso with Dongpo pork sauce, a slice of braised pork, and steamed milk—offering oat and almond milk as alternatives to traditional dairy. 

VegNews.StarbucksPorkLatteStarbucks

This creation aims to weave traditional Lunar New Year customs into the coffee experience, promoting the consumption of meat as a symbol of prosperity for the year ahead. Despite this intention, the inclusion of pork in a latte has sparked a mix of curiosity and criticism among customers, reflecting the diverse cultural practices and dietary preferences in China. 

The choice for the chain to feature pork in a beverage, however, raises questions about the compatibility with Starbucks’ environmental commitments, given the significant impact of animal agriculture on global greenhouse gas emissions. 

For the latest vegan news, read: