From Oat to Almond: A Guide to Starbucks’ Milk Alternatives

starbucks milk alternatives

Starbucks is many people’s top choice for coffee. One of the reasons for that is they offer a ton of customizability. For many people, using an alternative to traditional dairy milk is a must. Whether you’re lactose intolerant or want to avoid using animal products, Starbucks has options for you. 

Starbucks’ alternatives to traditional dairy milk are:

  • Soy milk
  • Almond milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Oat milk
  • Hemp milk

Each of these options can be added to any of the beverages on the menu. If you want something close to dairy milk, soy milk will have the closest texture. But all can work well in various drinks. 

In this guide, I’ll cover all these options in detail. By the end, you’ll have a better idea of which milk alternatives may be right for you. 

Key Takeaways

  • Starbucks offers five dairy-free and vegan milk alternatives. 
  • You can substitute different types of milk in any beverage. 
  • Consider taste, dietary restrictions, calories, consistency, and type of beverage to choose the best milk alternative for your needs. 

What Alternative Milk Does Starbucks Use?

As mentioned, Starbucks has five milk alternatives to traditional dairy milk. Those are soy, almond, coconut, oat, and hemp milk. Each has its pros and cons and preferred use cases for different drinks. 

Overview of Milk Alternatives Offered by Starbucks

The table below will provide an overview of Starbucks’ milk alternatives. Looking from left to right, you’ll see details on nutritional content, taste, and consistency. 

Milk AlternativeCalories (per 8 oz.)Fat (g)Protein (g)Carbs (g)Sugar (g)TasteConsistency
Soy Milk130471613Creamy, nutty flavorThick, slightly grainy texture
Almond Milk604265Nutty flavorThin, watery texture
Coconut Milk11011032Sweet, coconut flavorThick, creamy texture
Oat Milk12053167Mild, oaty flavorCreamy, smooth texture
Hemp Milk706211Nutty, earthy flavorThin, slightly gritty texture

As you can see, a lot goes into choosing the right milk alternative. The next sections will have more details on each of these to help you decide. 

Starbucks Soy Milk

Soy milk is made from soybeans. It is a completely vegan-friendly option. 

The main benefit of going with soy is it will substitute the best in terms of taste and texture. So, if you want your Starbucks latte to have the same creamy taste, soy may be your go-to. 

It has a nice thick consistency with a creamy and slightly nutty taste. I enjoy the flavor of it quite a bit when looking for a milk substitute to switch things up. 

The one downfall of soy is it is the highest in calories. It is even more calorie-dense than 2% milk. Soy milk has 130 calories per 8 ounces, whereas 2% milk is only 120 calories. 

If you’re on a diet, going for a different milk alternative may be a better idea. Otherwise, this option should work well. You’ll likely enjoy it as much as regular milk. 

What Starbucks Beverages Contain Soy Milk?

None of Starbucks drinks have soy milk as the default option. However, it can be added to anything on the menu. It tends to substitute best in teas and lattes but should work well for almost anything. 

Starbucks Almond Milk

On the opposite end of the spectrum, you have almond milk. This is the least calorie-dense milk alternative that Starbucks has on the menu. So if you’re looking to reduce the calories in your drink, this would be a good pick. 

The one downside to almond milk is its texture is very thin. So it won’t substitute as well in lattes or cappuccinos that benefit from thickness and consistency. 

The taste of this one is also much different than regular 2% milk. The flavor profile is much nuttier, which makes sense since it’s made from almonds. It’s also half the calories of 2% milk, so you can’t complain about that. 

What Starbucks Beverages Contain Almond Milk?

Starbucks has two beverages on the menu with almond milk as the default option. Those are the Iced Chocolate Almondmilk Shaken Espresso and Honey Almondmilk Flat White. That said, you can substitute it in any beverage on the menu. Besides the beverages where it’s the primary option, it also works well in teas and refreshers. 

Starbucks Coconut Milk

If you’re looking for a taste of the island life, coconut milk may be a good alternative. 

Coconut is a great vegan and dairy-free option. I personally find its texture much more appealing than almond milk. It’s very thick and creamy with a sweet coconut taste. 

This is a good pick if you’re looking for a soy-free option that’ll substitute the best for dairy milk. It’ll have the texture and consistency you want in thicker beverages. It’s also reasonable in calories, being ten calories less per serving than 2% milk. 

The one downside is you will be able to taste the coconut. If you like coconut, it won’t necessarily be a problem. However, it can take a bit of getting used to if you haven’t had it in coffee before. But I personally enjoy it quite a bit. 

What Starbucks Beverages Contain Coconut Milk?

There aren’t any beverages on the menu that contain coconut milk as a default. They used to offer the Vanilla Bean Coconut Latte, which is really delicious. However, you can still make this option by substituting coconut milk in a Vanilla Bean Latte. It can also be used in any beverage on the menu. Whether it’s tea, lattes, or refreshers, it should substitute quite well. 

Starbucks Oat Milk

Moving into a different flavor profile, you have oat milk. If you enjoy oatmeal, you may enjoy this one’s mild oaty flavor. It’s not a bad choice for a morning beverage. 

Oat milk has a very creamy and smooth texture. It’s different from 2% milk in that it doesn’t add quite the same thick consistency to drinks. But in terms of calories, it’s the exact same per serving. Overall, it substitutes pretty well for most beverages. 

What Starbucks Beverages Contain Oat Milk?

Starbucks has 2 beverages on the menu with oat milk as the default. They are the Iced Toasted Vanilla Oatmilk Shaken Espresso and Iced Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso. 

I’m personally a big fan of the Brown Sugar Oatmilk Espresso. It’s reminiscent of many people’s favorite brown sugar oatmeal with a bit more sweetness added. 

Oat milk can also be added to any other beverage of your choice. 

Starbucks Hemp Milk

Hemp milk is a newer alternative that Starbucks has added. This is a good vegan and dairy-free option made from hemp seeds. It’s also very low in calories, so it’s a nice calorie-conscious choice. 

That said, not everyone will love this one’s flavor and texture. I’m not much of a fan of it myself. It’s a very thin milk with quite the “earthy” flavor. You can definitely taste that it’s plant-based. 

Due to the thin texture, it may not substitute as well into beverages that require more thickness. So compared to 2% milk, it isn’t a perfect alternative. 

What Starbucks Beverages Contain Hemp Milk?

There aren’t any beverages that have hemp milk as a default. But you can request it as a substitute for any of the drinks on the menu. 

How to Choose the Right Milk Alternative at Starbucks

There are a handful of things to consider when choosing a milk alternative at Starbucks. The main considerations will be:

  • Calories per serving: Some may choose a milk alternative to lower the calories in their drink. Almond or hemp milk will be best for that purpose. 
  • Flavor and consistency: Each milk substitute has different flavor profiles and textures. Soy will be the most similar flavor and consistency to regular milk. Coconut milk is also close. Using alternatives can also be a nice change from familiar flavors if you’re looking for variety. 
  • Type of beverage: Soy and coconut milk will substitute well in most drinks. Others like hemp, almond, and oat will be best in thinner beverages like regular coffee, tea, or refreshers. 

Considering these aspects should help you choose the right option for your needs. 

How Do Dietary Restrictions Affect the Milk Alternative You Choose?

The most common reasons why someone would look for a milk alternative is if they’re lactose intolerant or vegan. If you’re simply looking for a vegan and dairy-free option that’s similar to milk, soy milk can be a great choice. 

However, some may be sensitive to soy. In that case, almond, coconut, hemp, or oat milk could all be viable options. 

If you have any kind of nut allergy, you should avoid almond and coconut milk. 

Also, watch out for any other dietary sensitivities that could cause issues. 

How Do You Customize Drinks with Milk Alternatives?

Starbucks makes the customization process very easy. All you have to do is ask the barista if you can substitute your preferred type of milk while ordering. 

For instance, if you want a Vanilla Bean Latte with coconut milk, all you have to do is say you’d like the Vanilla Bean Latte and ask if you can substitute coconut milk. They should have no problem using any type of milk for you. But they will let you know if you request a certain type of milk that isn’t in stock. 

Examples of Popular Drink Customizations Using Milk Alternatives

Other than drinks on the menu that come with milk alternatives as a default, there are some popular customizations that customers love. Some common ones are:

  • Toffee Nut Latte with Almond Milk
  • Espresso Con Panna with Coconut Milk
  • Caffe Misto with Soy, Coconut, Oat, or Almond Milk
  • Caramel Macchiato with Soy Milk

You can make many great combos with menu items and milk alternatives. If you want to get creative, it’s a great idea to shake up your morning coffee occasionally. 

Is Using Milk Alternatives at Starbucks More Expensive Than Regular Dairy Milk?

If you’re in the U.S., opting for a milk alternative at Starbucks will add an extra 70 cents to the cost of your beverage compared to using default dairy milk. 

Other Milk Alternatives Offered by Starbucks

Besides the dairy-free and vegan milk alternatives covered extensively in this article, Starbucks also offers alternatives to their standard 2% milk. Those alternatives are:

  • Whole milk: It’s the highest in calories, sugar, and fat. But it does add a thicker and more consistent texture to beverages. 
  • Non-fat (skim) milk: It has fewer calories and zero fat content. However, it will reduce the flavor quality. 
  • Heavy cream: This is a very thick and dense option. Many people add a splash of it to coffee as a substitute for coffee creamer
  • Half & Half (breve): This is the creamer you would typically add to a regular black cup of coffee. 
  • Sweet cream: It’s a combination of heavy cream, milk, and vanilla syrup. You can add a splash of it to your drink, or it’s commonly mixed in cold brew beverages. 

Each of these options is dairy-based and isn’t vegan-friendly. So be wary of that before adding one to your beverage. 

Conclusion

Overall, Starbucks milk alternatives offer great options to switch up your morning coffee. It’s also helpful for those who are vegan or have dietary sensitivities. 

Remember to consider the calories, flavor, and type of beverage to decide which one is right for your needs. 

If you’re sick of your regular coffee routine, give one of these milk substitutes a try! You might just find your new favorite combination. 

FAQ

What is the Healthiest Milk Alternative at Starbucks?

Almond milk is the lowest-calorie milk alternative that Starbucks offers. Almond milk is 60 calories per 8 ounces plus whatever calories are in other ingredients within your beverage. 

Are Starbucks Milk Alternatives Sweetened?

The milk alternatives themselves are not sweetened. However, some may have sweeter flavor profiles and more sugar content than others. Soy milk is the sweetest and has the most sugar. Hemp milk is the least sweet flavor, with only 1 gram of sugar per serving. You also must look at the type of beverage you order, which may have added sugar.

What is the Lowest Carb Milk Alternative at Starbucks?

Hemp milk is the lowest-carb option. It only has 1 carb per 8-ounce serving. 

What is Skinny Milk in Starbucks?

Beverages ordered with “skinny milk” at Starbucks use non-fat milk, sugar-free syrup, and no whipped cream.

Which milk alternative tastes most like milk in coffee?

Soy milk will taste the most like milk in coffee. Its texture is also the most consistent with regular milk.
Christopher Mize

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