There was a time, in the not so distant past, when the idea of having one dairy-free option in a major, commercial food or beverage chain was ticker tape parade worthy. But, oh times they are a’changin’. Rolling out nationwide on February 17th at Starbucks, those who choose to avoid dairy in their wicked fancy coffee drinks can not only opt for soy but….wait for it….coconut milk!
We mean, we guess that’s cool and stuff. Piloted successfully at select stores in 2014, adding coconut milk to the menu was the second most requested consumer idea via their online platform, receiving 84,000 votes. If that doesn’t tell corporations that people are interested in non-dairy alternatives, we just don’t know what does!
Everthing appears to be spelled correctly on this cup…are we sure we’re at Starbucks?
Starbucks is merely the latest in a growing string of large, chain coffee shops that are moving away from soy while adding to their non-dairy arsenal. Peet’s Coffee, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Dutch Bros. and Dunkin’ Donuts all have non-dairy alternatives like almond milk or coconut milk at their locations. With both soy and milk sales expected to continue their downward sales trajectories, these establishments serve as a powerful case study of how consumer demand drives product availability.
In the case of Starbucks, they’ll be using Starbucks Single Origin Sumatra Coconut Milk, a certified vegan product sourced from single-origin coconuts from Indonesia. While the upcharge for the product will still remain solidly at the 60 cents people have been used to for soy milk, having another choice when you’re out and about with friends and in need of a trenta, iced, low-acid, shaken-not-stirred, half caf/half decaf, non-dairy, sprinkle-of-cinnamon, delivered-with-a-sweeping-rendition-of-“Pump up the Jam” coffee is always encouraging.
We applaud Starbucks for listening to the their customer base and including products that they want, but it’s important to keep one thing firmly in mind. Starbucks would not have made this change if it wasn’t clear that it would be good for business. Corporations are, shockingly, not in the business to lose money and thusly make moves such as these only after careful consideration of their bottom line.
As consumers who want to see real change in the way our food is processed, procured and consumed it has never been more imperative to put our money where our mouths are. Literally. By continuing to request the things we want to see on menus and demonstrating with our purchasing power just which items we want and which ones we don’t, we communicate with companies in the language they understand. Money. So let’s raise a coconut-y cup of joe to this success, and caffeinate up for a future with a little less dairy in it.
Lead Image Credit: Glamour