Need a Starbucks fix? Not to fret…check out the Definitive Vegan Starbucks Guide!

*Updated 8/23/10*

*Updated 6/22/10:  The new Soy Milk Starbucks uses has been confirmed vegan via VegNews magazine in their May/June 2010 issue*

So we all know how easy and how difficult it can be to obtain simple ingredient information from a company.  Sometimes it’s as easy as slicing a tomato.  Other times, it’s like taking that tomato and making origami with it.  Good luck.  Here’s a sample of some correspondence with Starbucks.  I don’t have the original message I sent, but the other emails are verbatim.  I said something like this, “I was wondering if you could tell me if the sugar you use in your new frappuccino bases and syrups or any other products are processed with bone char.  I am vegan and am not interested in obtaining confidential proprietary information, I just want to know if I am inadvertently consuming animal products, or by-products.  Thank you very much for your time.”

Here is their response:

Hello Elisha,

Thank you for contacting Starbucks Coffee Company.

Unfortunately none of the products that we carry are vegan

Monday through Friday, 5AM to 6PM (PST)

If you have any further questions or concerns that I was unable to address, please feel free to let me know.

Warm Regards,

Kevin B.

Customer Relations

Starbucks Coffee Company

800 23-LATTE (235-2883)

Naturally I was a bit pissed, knowing that some of their products ARE vegan, whether they publicize it or not.  My response was as follows:

am I to understand that even the soy milk has animal derived ingredients?  Or were you just referring to the frappuccino bases and syrups (including sugar-free syrups)?  Your answer was a little vague and just wanted to make sure I understand.  Thank you for your time.

Starbucks response:

Hello Elisha,

Thank you for contacting Starbucks Coffee Company.

I have included the soy milk ingredients below for your information. With the possibility of cross contamination it is impossible to guarantee that handcrafted drinks or unpackaged food items are vegan, gluten free, or Kosher. It is possible a packaged product would meet the guidelines you are looking for as being Vegan, and would likely be labeled as such if it were.

Organic Vanilla Flavored Enriched Soymilk is offered in US Company Operated locations.

Ingredients: Organic soymilk (Filtered water, whole organic soybeans), organic evaporated cane juice, calcium carbonate, natural vanilla flavor with other natural flavors, sea salt, carrageenan, sodium citrate, sodium bicarbonate, vitamin a palmitate, vitamin d2, riboflavin (B2), vitamin b12.

My response:

I’m not concerned with cross contamination too much, I work at starbucks and know hoe that goes, I just wanted to make sure that the “natural flavors” and “b12” in soy are not animal derived.  If you could answer this, I would be most grateful.

And their final response:

Hello Elisha,

Thank you for contacting Starbucks Coffee Company. Please see below for information regarding requests for ingredient sources.

While we understand that some customers may have a need to know specific ingredient information prior to consuming a product, unfortunately we are unable to provide more in-depth information than what is currently available in the ingredient statement. If there are concerns about this product possibly containing an ingredient derived from a source that you do not wish to consume, we would recommend that product not be consumed.

So there you have it.  Being obviously not happy with those answers, I decided to do my own research, and since I work there, it was fairly easy.  Here is my extensive list.  I hope these categories make it easier for you Starbucks junkies.

Products or Ingredients that ARE VEGAN:

  • All whole bean coffee, including espresso and decaf espresso in handcrafted beverages
  • Soy Milk (specially formulated for Starbucks)
  • Starbucks VIA
  • Iced coffee (black)
  • Vanilla condiment bar powder
  • Nutmeg condiment bar powder
  • Cinnamon condiment bar powder
  • Sea Salt Topping (used on Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate, Salted Caramel Mocha)
  • Sugar In The Raw
  • Tazo Awake Tea (full leaf)
  • Tazo Chai Tea (full leaf)
  • Tazo China Green Tips Tea (full leaf)
  • Tazo Refresh Tea (full leaf)
  • Musselman’s Apple Juice (if you were to ask for apple juice from the bar)
  • Frappuccino Roast Coffee (the coffee pumps that go in a frappuccino, not the syrup base)
  • Starbucks Perfect Oatmeal
  • Oatmeal Nut Medley topping
  • Ethos Water
  • MetroElectro Micronutrient Water
  • San Pellegrino Water
  • Hint Flavored Water
  • Tree Top Organic Apple Juice Box
  • Odwalla Orange Juice
  • Naked Juices (except Protein Zone, Banana Chocolate Protein Zone, Tropical Mango, Very Berry)
  • Izze Sparkling Juices
  • Peter Rabbit Organics Apple and Grape Puree
  • Peter Rabbit Organics Mango, Banana and Orange Puree
  • Starbucks Dry Roasted Almonds
  • Stretch Island Fruit Strips
  • Two Moms In The Raw Blueberry Granola
  • Two Moms In The Raw Gojiberry Granola
  • Peeled Snacks
  • Lucy’s Cookies
  • Food Should Taste Good Sweet Potato Chips
  • Food Should Taste Good Multigrain Chips
  • Darling Spuds Crushed Natural Sea Salt Chips

Products or Ingredients that have only Natural Flavors (possibly animal-derived):

  • Tazo Iced Tea (Black, Passion and Green)
  • Tazo Calm Tea (full leaf)
  • Tazo Earl Grey Tea (full leaf)
  • Tazo Orange Blossom Tea (full leaf)
  • Tazo Passion Tea (full leaf)
  • Tazo Vanilla Rooibos Tea (full leaf)
  • Tazo Zen Tea (full leaf)
  • Tazo Organic Iced Green Tea (bottle)
  • Orange Mango Juice (used in Orange Mango Vivanno smoothie)
  • Strawberry Juice (used in Strawberry Vivanno Smoothie, Strawberries and Cremé Frappuccino, Blended Strawberry Lemonade)
  • Sugar Free Caramel Syrup
  • Sugar Free Cinnamon Dolce Syrup
  • Sugar Free Hazelnut Syrup
  • Sugar Free Vanilla Syrup
  • Peppermint Mints
  • Cinnamon Gum
  • Cinnamon Mints
  • Spearmint Gum
  • Spearmint Mints
  • Starbucks Salt & Pepper Popcorn

Products or Ingredients that have only Refined Sugar (possibly processed with bone char):

  • Starbucks Iced VIA (package)
  • Chocolate condiment bar powder
  • Dark Chocolate Curls (topping for Dark Cherry Mocha)
  • Cremé Frappuccino Syrup Base
  • Lemonade (used in Tea Lemonades, Blended Strawberry Lemonade)
  • Green Tea Matcha Powder (used in Green Tea Frappuccino, Green Tea Latte)
  • Mocha Syrup/Sauce
  • Oatmeal Fruit topping
  • Oatmeal Brown Sugar topping
  • Vanilla Bean Powder (used in Vanilla Bean Frappuccino, Cafe Vanilla Frappuccino)
  • Starbucks Simply Nuts & Fruit
  • Sahale Snacks Soledad Almonds
  • Sahale Snacks Cashews

Products or Ingredients that have Natural Flavors AND Refined Sugar:

  • Coffee Frappuccino Syrup Base
  • Caramel Syrup
  • Cinnamon Dolce Syrup
  • Classic Syrup (used to sweeten Teas, Iced Coffee, Green Tea Frappuccino, Strawberries and Cremé Frappuccino)
  • Dark Cherry Syrup
  • Hazelnut Syrup
  • Peppermint Syrup
  • Raspberry Syrup
  • Toffee Nut Syrup
  • Vanilla Syrup

Products or Ingredients that ARE NOT VEGAN:

  • All of the pastries in the food case, unless otherwise labeled (milk and/or eggs)
  • Cinnamon Dolce condiment bar powder (milk, sugar)
  • Sugar from condiment bar (Domino Sugar processes with bone char)
  • Caramel Sauce (milk, sugar, used in Caramel Macchiatos, Caramel Frappuccinos, Caramel Mochas)
  • Chocolate Chips (milk, sugar, used in Java Chip Frappuccinos, Double Chocolaty Chip Frappuccinos)
  • Coffee Light Frappuccino Syrup Base (milk)
  • White Chocolate Mocha Syrup/Sauce (milk, sugar)
  • Toffee Mocha Syrup/Sauce (milk, sugar)
  • Pumpkin Spice Syrup/Sauce (milk, sugar)
  • Protein and Fiber Powder (whey, used in Vivanno smoothies)
  • Tazo Chai Concentrate (honey, sugar, used in Chai Lattes, Chai Cremé Frappuccinos)
  • Doubleshot Canned Drinks (milk, sugar)
  • Frappuccino Bottles (milk, sugar)
  • Madeleines (milk, eggs, sugar)
  • Peppermint Gum (gelatin)
  • Dark Chocolate & Caramel Bar (milk, whey, sugar)
  • Dark Chocolate Bar (milk, sugar)
  • Milk Chocolate Bar (milk, sugar)
  • KIND bars (honey, sugar)
  • Walkers Shortbread Cookies (milk, sugar)
  • Two By Two Natural Vanilla Biscuits (milk, sugar)
  • Biscottis (butter, eggs, sugar)
  • Chocolate Grahams (milk)
  • Starbucks Butter Popcorn (butter)
  • Sahale Snacks Barbeque Almonds (milk)
  • Sahale Snacks Southwest Cashews with Chili and Cheddar (milk, sugar)
  • Sahale Snacks Almonds with Cranberries, Honey and Sea Salt (honey, sugar)
  • Food Should Taste Good White Cheddar Tortilla Chips (milk)
  • Darling Spuds Sour Cream with a Hint of Mexican Chilli Chips (milk)
  • Starbucks Assorted Jellybeans (milk, beeswax)
  • Starbucks Dutch Caramel Wafers (milk)

So there you have it.  Let’s do a quick recap on bar drinks if you are a little confused.

Frappuccino Lights are NOT VEGAN

White Chocolate Mochas are NOT VEGAN

Chai Lattes are NOT VEGAN (if you do not consume honey)

Pumpkin Spice Lattes are NOT VEGAN

Toffee Mochas are NOT VEGAN

Caramel Macchiatos are NOT VEGAN (if you keep the caramel sauce on top)

Java Chip and Double Chocolaty Chip Frappuccinos are NOT VEGAN

Vivanno Smoothies are NOT VEGAN (with protein & fiber powder included)

Whipped Cream is obviously NOT VEGAN

If you order a soy, no whip, Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate or Salted Caramel Mocha, there is NO dairy, only sugar and natural flavors.

As for the sugar and natural flavors, those are judgement calls.  I continue to drink the soy milk, since it’s much better than drinking milk and supporting the dairy industry directly.  I really hope this helped.  If you have ANY questions or comments, please leave them.  


17 thoughts on “Need a Starbucks fix? Not to fret…check out the Definitive Vegan Starbucks Guide!

  1. I get a StarBucks tall half caff nearly everyday. I’m non-vegetarian so I don’t care about the ingredients. What I don’t like is the big corporate could care less watch out for the blood sucking lawyers attitude exhibited by the Starbucks customer relations. Obviously, Kevin B could give a sh–. He’s a 9-5 lackie.

    If it weren’t so convenient, I’d go somewhere else. But, it is convenient (right in Target) and they have good tasting coffee. So I go right along like a good little puppy. It’s a little sad. But I like my coffee 😉

    Mike Rocha

    • Fortunately, not every company is like this. That is indeed the sad part, as Starbucks has specifically chosen to be this stubborn, even though I (the customer) just simply want to know WHAT I’m eating. We as consumers though still have the power in the end to choose where we spend our very much sought after dollar bills. Never let us forget that.

  2. Thank you this was extremely helpful. Im a vegetarian and about 70% vegan i think but im trying to slowly transition into 100 vegan. “someday” Im going to have to throw away my uggs, silk, and cute leather purses. How long have you been vegan? Oh and i guess no more old fashioned doughnuts for me 😦

  3. and i guess i cant have a Caramel Macchiato ?? i”ve been asking for soy but what about the caramel in it? does that have dairy too?

  4. It looks like Starbucks vanilla soy milk that they use has Carrageenan which is not a good ingredient. It may cause ulcers and cancers in the gastrointestinal tracts of both animals and humans. Starbucks can do better and purchase organic vanilla soy milk that doesn’t include Carrageenan!

  5. Hi. Thanks for such a detailed list. I am wondering about the caramel bits that can be sprinkled on top of drinks. I’m not sure what they are called. Thanks

  6. Hi, I know this was posted in 2010, but if you happen to see this and could give me an answer I would really appreciate it!! In the post, it says that the toffee syrup is not vegan, but salted caramel mochas were. I was told by Starbucks employees that I should order a mocha frappucino with toffee syrup when I wanted to have a salted caramel mocha while it wasn’t in season because that’s what it actually was. And I haven’t noticed a different taste. Sooooo are they vegan??

    • The “toffee mocha syrup” is not vegan in itself, but mocha syrup and toffee nut syrup just have sugar/natural flavors in them. No dairy/eggs. So it just depends on which toffee syrup you are talking about 🙂

    • I haven’t worked there in years, so if their recipes haven’t changed, you could order a vanilla bean frappucinno with soy or other non-dairy milk, and should be fine. It’s vegan, unless you’re concerned with how the sugar is refined (and of course, no whipped cream!)

  7. Hi! My question here is pretty simple but I couldn’t find a correct answer anywhere..
    There it is; How can I make a vanilla bean frappuccino vegan? Soy milk and no whipped cream obviously but doesn’t the powder have dairy products In it ?? Do I have to give up on my favorite beverage as a newly vegan ?

    • The Vanilla Bean Powder does not have dairy in it (or at least it didn’t years ago when I wrote this)–however, it does have sugar in it, which can’t be confirmed whether it’s processed with bone char. If you are not concerned with the sugar–then it’s vegan!

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