Food

A Complete Guide to Vegan Starbucks #PinkDrinks

A pink trend is sweeping Instagram, and it comes in a 24-ounce cup.

Even though it’s a relatively new phenomenon, Starbucks’ Pink Drink has already amassed more than 100,000 posts on Instagram. People everywhere are flocking to the green coffeehouse to snatch up one of these pastel, berry-filled beverages and plastering them all over your feed before sipping away at the sweet drink. But what exactly is the Pink Drink? It’s 100-percent vegan, that’s what!
 
Grab a cup simply by ordering a Strawberry Açai Refresher with coconut milk instead of water. The result is a fruity, creamy bev—with a flavor reminiscent of Starburst candies—that’ll give you a java jolt as well. Although tea-like in flavor and appearance, Refreshers are made with green coffee extract—that is, raw coffee beans that retain caffeine without the roasty, bitter flavor. Single-origin Sumatran coconut milk is added before being topped off with real slices of strawberry, it’s shaken with ice, and then sloshed into your Instagram-friendly clear cup.
 
But what to do to keep your pink drink game strong (and vegan) even after the buzz has died down? Let a veteran Starbucks barista show you the top six pink picks.
 
Strawberries and Crème Frappuccino
This Frappuccino favorite can be made vegan by switching out dairy for vegan milk (soy or coconut) and omitting the whip. Starbucks’ strawberry purée is made from vegan-friendly tomato-based lycopene for color—the company eliminated crushed beetle-based cochineal extract from the recipe a few years ago after animal-free eaters led a campaign for its removal.
 
Shaken Iced Passion Tango Tea Lemonade
Another everyday offering, Passion tea—a lip-smackingly tart herbal tea made from hibiscus flowers, rose hips, mango, licorice root, lemongrass, and cinnamon—is combined with all natural lemonade, shaken with ice, and sweetened, if you so choose. Classic simple syrup is standard, but try it with raspberry or seasonal flavors such as peach or citrus mint.
 
Very Berry Hibiscus Refresher
The cousin of the Strawberry Açai provides the same green coffee boost but is flavored with blackberry and hibiscus and shaken with whole blackberries. Give it the Pink Drink treatment by replacing water with coconut milk or, depending on availability, ask your barista to give it some fizz with the store's Fizzio soda machine.
 
Strawberry Cake Frappuccino
Start with a Vanilla Bean Frappuccino (made from soy or coconut milk), add two pumps of hazelnut syrup and a healthy splash of strawberry juice. Ask for one less scoop of vanilla bean powder if you like your drinks a little less sweet.
 
Strawberry Banana Smoothie
Starbucks bought Southern California based-Evolution Fresh cold-pressed juice company in 2011, which is where its newer line of smoothies gets a nutrient-rich boost. A premium fruit base made from strawberry, apple, banana, and beet is blended with ice, a whole banana, non-dairy milk, and a dash of nutmeg for a 24-ounce healthier option that’ll pack more protein and fiber than most other blended picks. Take note, though, because the standard recipe calls for nonfat Greek yogurt, so be sure to have it replaced with your milk of choice.
 
Captain Crunch Frappuccino
A secret menu item before there even was an official secret menu, this cereal-inspired hack actually tastes more like Cap’n Crunch’s little sister Crunch Berries, but it’s a nostalgic favorite all the same. To your Strawberries and Crème Frappuccino, add one pump each of hazelnut, toffee nut, and caramel syrup in place of the customary classic syrup. If your barista is old school, they might offer to add chocolaty java chips or even caramel sauce—be sure to avoid these, as they contain dairy.

Need more veg-inspiration for your next coffee run? Check out our guide to 10 cool-down Frappuccinos, sweet and savory snacks, and better-for-you beverages!

Photo courtesy of @jessica.benavidez

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