On March 1st, Starbucks debuted a new non-dairy drink, and I had to sample it for myself. Here’s what I thought. I have been a long-time customer at Starbucks, getting a morning coffee before school or an afternoon pick-me-up iced matcha tea latte daily. While the coffee chain has always had some sort of dairy-free option, I was excited to hear about the launch of the exclusively non-dairy Iced Vanilla Oat Milk Drink.
This new Shaken Espresso drink joins two other dairy-free Shaken Espresso drinks on Starbucks’ permanent U.S. menu (the Iced Brown Sugar Oat Milk Shaken Espresso and Iced Chocolate Almond Milk Shaken Espresso). I packed my bag after my last class of the day and headed over to the nearest Starbucks on campus grounds, only to find out that this location had run out of oat milk! Of course, I had to go back the next day…
With no customizations, Starbucks’ Grande (16 fl oz) Iced Toasted Vanilla Oat Milk Shaken Espresso sits at 140 calories, with 11g sugar and 4.5g fat. It contains three shots of the brand’s signature Blonde Espresso shaken together with toasted vanilla syrup, creating a caramelized flavor. Finally, it is topped with oat milk and poured over ice to create a refreshing plant-based drink that costs $5.96.
Walking into the Starbucks — for the second time — I was greeted by signs all around the store advertising the new drink. As I told my order to the barista, she smiled and said “Everyone has been trying that this week!” I took that as a good sign that the drink was as delicious as advertised, and maybe an explanation as to why the store had run out of oat milk the day before. I waited in anticipation until the other barista called my name as she placed the drink on the counter.
At first glance, the shots of espresso sat at the bottom of the cup with the oat milk as a layer above it. After a quick swirl of the cup, the drink had mixed together, and I was ready for my first sip. I was greeted with a delicious roasted flavor that was filled with hints of caramel, which came from the special toasted vanilla syrup that is used. I was happy to see a layer of foam on the top of the drink as that is my favorite part of a coffee. After a few more sips, the creamy oat milk flavor came through as it blended perfectly to balance the bitterness of espresso — something that isn’t true of all Starbucks drinks. Once halfway done, I realized that the drink has a familiar taste of a sugar cone from a hot summer’s day; sweet and delicious, a perfect pick me up. By the time I was finishing the drink, it tasted a little watered down due to the amount of ice in the cup—maybe I will ask for light ice next time!
Overall, Starbucks’ Iced Toasted Vanilla Oat Milk Shaken Espresso is a great balance between a sweet and caffeinated drink. The toasted vanilla syrup adds a nice roasted sweetness flavor that blends well with the creamy oat milk. Because it is so sweet, the Grande was a perfect size to not send me into a sugar rush. So, would I get it again? While the Iced Toasted Vanilla Oat Milk Drink wouldn’t be my first pick for a morning coffee — because I don’t like to start my day with something sweet — I would definitely get it again as a mid-day energizer or treat!
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