Starbucks adapts to consumer demand, adding almond milk to its menu

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

Almond milk will be the newest addition to Starbucks' non-dairy alternatives come September 2016.
Almond milk will be the newest addition to Starbucks' non-dairy alternatives come September 2016.

Related tags Coffee

Starbucks will offer “Starbucks Almondmilk” in more than 4,600 US stores come September, answering the top crowdsourced demand on its website. The almond milk recipe was developed by Starbucks’ R&D team.  

“We created our own almond milk recipe to complement our hot, iced and Frappuccino blended beverages,”​ said Yoke Wong, manager on Starbucks beverage R&D team.

“It was designed so that when steamed, it creates a rich foam for hot beverages and it is delicious and creamy when served in cold beverages.”

Starbucks Almondmilk will initially be available in company-operated and company-licensed stores in the Pacific Northwest, Northern California, New York, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, kicking off a nationwide rollout that will be complete by the end of September this year. It will be available for use in Starbucks’ handcrafted beverages, including hot or iced drinks and Frappuccino blended beverages.

Starbucks introduced soymilk, its first non-dairy milk alternative, in 2004, followed by coconut milk in February 2015.

An 8-ounce serving contains three grams of sugar, compared with 12 to 13 grams of naturally occurring sugar in 2% dairy milk. It can be used in any handcrafted Starbucks beverage for an additional 60¢ charge.

Inspiring customization

The introduction of coconut milk last year inspired customized beverages including the social media craze surrounding the consumer-created “Pink Drink” ​(a Strawberry Acai Refresher substituting water with coconut milk).

The company believes that almond milk will elicit similar cultural phenomena because it is considered the preferred non-dairy option. According to Mintel data, more than 58% of all US adults consume non-dairy milk and almond milk ranks as the most popular option, with 60% of the non-dairy market.

“The almond butter in our almondmilk adds body and complements the roasty notes of espresso,” ​Wong said. “Because it’s unflavored, customers can customize to their taste preferences.”

Crowdsourced demand

The company said it receives thousands of ideas submitted through “My Starbucks Idea,” the company’s platform for crowdsourcing customer and barista suggestions. Among the top product requests was for almond milk, citing its low-calorie content and a convenient way to reduce animal product intake.

Hundreds of requests for almond milk were made through the platform dating back to 2011. 

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