Veganuary additions at Starbucks

I am not a coffee drinker, so I don’t tend to frequent coffee shops unless they a) have really big cups of tea or b) they have new vegan options on sale that I have to try. Starbucks would be one of those places. They tend to have quite a good vegan range, and also recently announced that they would no longer charge extra for vegan milk alternatives (about time!!). They also tend to do quite a lot of seasonal treats so I do find myself stopping in every season or so if something takes me fancy.

Until now, I had only ever had soya milk in my coffees because that was usually the only milk alternative that places do not charge extra for (and I include Starbucks, Costa and Cafe Nero in this, although there may be others) so when I saw that Starbucks were doing a whole new oat latte line for their festive new year drinks, I was quite excited! I have heard that oat milk is best in coffees, as it thickens up and froths up the nicest out of all of the non-milk milks.

On offer they have chocolate and orange oat latte and strawberry and vanilla oat lattes. They are also offering a honey and hazelnut oat latte but since I do not consider honey to be vegan friendly (more on this topic to come later!) I don’t include this in their vegan menu. I therefore went with the chocolate and orange latte, as it sounded the nicest option. Plus who doesn’t love chocolate orange??

It was actually quite disappointing. It had the tiniest hint of chocolate, but tasted more like a standard mocha than it did chocolate orange. I will admit the oat milk did seem a lot frothier and fluffy than my usual soya latte, but it didn’t add any flavour to it. Maybe coconut milk would add a little bit of sweetness? I tend to find coffee a bit too bitter to have in large amounts, so anything to sweeten it up is all good in my books. I got zero orange flavouring from this latte, so overall it was just a nice mocha. It wasn’t awful, but it also wasn’t anything to get too excited about.

I also tried the vegan carrot cake that looked way better than it tasted. Carrot cake is probably my favourite type of cake (true vegan choice right there!) and I have still not yet mastered the perfect home baked carrot cake. So I therefore have to make do with what is on offer when out shopping. Surprisingly (to me anyway) carrot cake is not a very popular flavour (???) so I think I have only had carrot cake maybe twice in the 6 years I have been vegan. They also had on offer for Veganuary a chocolate and caramel muffin (groundbreaking), a cherry crown pasty (this did look pretty nice to be fair to them), a pecan and caramel brownie and a caramel and date cookie. So out of those offering, only the cherry crown pastry is even remotely exciting. Unless again you like caramel everything.

This carrot cake was so dry and it was THICK. It was almost like a bread it was so thick. It is actually quite small by snack standards but I was more or less full by about half way through it. You definitely needed a drink with this though as the cake itself managed to find every bit of moisture in my mouth and suck it away, meaning I had to really work to chew and swallow each bite. Combined with the coffee, it wasn’t the worst, but it definitely was not the soft and light spongy cake that I had been expecting.

Now I know that Starbucks are not the best business – they have routinely been outed for paying little to no taxes in the UK and they are also one of the big companies that took a covid bail out payment, despite being a multi-million dollar company. In my high street alone there are 3 Starbucks stores – and all 3 are pretty big with quite a number of staff – so it is not like they are struggling for money as much as they claim to be. That side of the ethics aside, they are one of the more expensive coffee shops out there: I had only a tall latte (the smallest size) and the cake and that alone was around £6. Which personally I could get a way better snack and a way better drink at literally any other store for less money than that. I do feel glad that I am not a fan of coffee because the idea of drinking Starbucks every day would genuinely bankrupt me – £4 every day for a tiny coffee?? What do people have to earn to be able to afford such spending!?

Now I am quite a forgiving person though so I may still go back and try some of their other options. I am also a big believer in supply and demand, so if it takes me trying multiple vegan options in their stores to convince them to create more exciting and readily available vegan coffee and cake options, then so be it. Again though, I will not expect anything special….but hopefully something at least passable.

Overall: 4/10. It’s fine. Definitely not the best option out there but good in a pinch.

T xxx

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