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Starbucks Receives Tepid Reaction With Addition Of Coconut Milk

It’s been two days since Starbucks released their first coconut milk-based drink and the coffee-drinking world, on the whole, is pleased. Coffee lovers everywhere have been scrambling to get a taste of this new era in Starbucks beverages.

Myself included.

Lactose-free food and drink made up a $6.7 billion industry in 2015, and the trend has continued to rise into 2016, as well. To their credit, the giants of the food industry (i.e., Starbucks) have paid close attention to that profitable trend.

Although the Coconut Milk Mocha Macchiato is only being promoted as a summer drink, you can now officially ask for coconut milk in any of your Starbucks beverages. Because if you think Starbucks is going to turn down the opportunity to buy into this multi-billion dollar industry year-round, you have another thing coming.

Coconut Milk Sign

Image: Yelp, http://www.yelp.com/biz/starbucks-chevy-chase

If the reviews continue to be positive, Starbucks will undoubtedly keep coconut milk as a full-time player and maybe even come out with a line of coconut drinks.

Based on how delicious their first attempt is, it seems like a definite possibility.

The iced macchiato was everything I wanted it to be; sweet, but not too sweet, and refreshingly creamy. There was a hint of coconut in the drink, but not so much that it tasted like I was enjoying a pina colada for my morning coffee. And, on top of the great consistency and flavor, there was the encouraging thought that my drink was a little bit healthier than usual.

As it turns out, however, I had to think this last thought with a grain of salt.

While the Coconut Milk Mocha Macchiato has significantly less sugar than many of the soy latte drinks — according to the company website, a grande Starbucks latte with coconut milk has nearly a third less sugar than a grande soy latte — Starbucks’ coconut milk is not exactly what health nuts everywhere are endorsing.

Depending on the brand, most coconut milks contain coconut milk and water, maybe with some cane sugar added.

Starbucks’ coconut milk? According to popular health blog Rebooted Body, it contains water, coconut cream, cane sugar, tricalcium phosphate, coconut water concentrate, natural flavors, sea salt, carrageenan, gellan gum, corn dextrin, xanthan gum, guar gum, vitamin A palmitate, and vitamin d2.

We probably don’t have to go into too much detail on why this is an issue for some people.

It does make sense that Starbucks would need to do a little emulsifying to get a smooth consistency (no one wants chunks of coconut meat in their macchiato), but this much? And why corn dextrin and various gums?

Coconut Milk Order

Image: EcoWatch, http://www.ecowatch.com/starbucks-adds-coconut-milk-to-its-menu-but-should-you-order-it-1882012565.html

Despite the fact that the sugar and fat content of regular coconut milk has been severely reduced in Starbucks coconut milk, this doesn’t change the fact that Starbucks coconut milk has been seriously meddled with. And people are pissed.

Paleo blog Eat Clean has been displeased with Starbucks’ coconut milk since they included it as a latte option last summer, saying that it’s a more processed beverage than regular cow’s milk. Which is seriously saying something. As mentioned previously, Rebooted Body is very disappointed in Starbucks’ “failed” attempt with coconut milk, skewering the company for appearing to be a health conscious establishment when, in reality, they’re not. Health website Natural Society even breaks down what overly-processed ingredients are in Starbucks coconut milk and why each one is bad for you. Ouch.

Whether or not consumers will be willing to overlook the less-than-healthy aspects of this drink in favor of what they believe to be a “health conscious” option has yet to be seen. Admittedly, the drink is creamy and flavorful, so fans may be willing to turn a blind eye to the health concerns for the sake of a sweet treat and a super trendy Instagram post.

To be honest, Starbucks drinkers have been loving sugar-heavy frappucinos and machiattos for years without much complaint. So it stands to reason that this unhealthy drink in coconut milk’s clothing will be just as popular as its sugary predecessors.

By Tessa Newell

Tessa lives and writes in Sturbridge, Massachusetts where she hoards an obnoxiously large collection of scarves and puts queso cheese on everything she sees. Although she looks short and tiny, Tessa can eat several cheeseburgers in one sitting and will do anything for a spoonful of peanut butter. Or a whole jar, whichever.

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