Another year has gone by without a vegan update to the iconic Pumpkin Spice Latte. It exists in the United Kingdom and some European countries (ahem, so we know it’s possible), but the American arm of this international coffee chain has yet to adopt the dairy-free Pumpkin Spice Sauce. Well, 2020 has been a bust anyway, so maybe next year. In the meantime, you can still create some semblance of fall cozy by ordering one of these nine autumnal, vegan-friendly Starbucks beverages.
1. Salted Caramel Mocha
There’s a lot going on in this seasonal beverage, and thankfully most of it is vegan. The complex tasting notes of espresso, chocolate, caramel, and sea salt are layered as the barista pours steamed milk over espresso mixed with mocha sauce and toffee nut syrup. The delicate foam is topped with whipped cream, caramel drizzle, and a mix of crunchy turbinado sugar and sea salt. Veganize it by asking for steamed non-dairy milk (oat, soy, almond, soy, or coconut), no whip, and no caramel drizzle.
Barista tip: Ask your barista to swap the caramel drizzle with a finish of mocha sauce. Also, because the drink is fairly sweet, opt for one of the less-sweet milk options such as almond or oat.
2. Cinnamon Dolce Latte
This item never leaves the menu, but the warming cinnamon spices beckon feelings of fall. Easily transform this drink into a vegan-friendly option by swapping in your favorite non-dairy milk and asking for no whipped cream or cinnamon dolce topping (it contains dairy). Feeling the weather effects of global warming? Order this over ice or as a blended Frappuccino.
Barista tip: Replace the cinnamon dolce topping with the turbinado sugar and sea salt topping that’s used for the Salted Caramel Mocha.
3. Hazelnut Latte
Hazelnuts are a bit more wintery than fall, but if you’re one of those people who start playing Christmas music in October, ring in the season early with this comforting drink. Custom order a regular latte with your choice of non-dairy milk, then ask for hazelnut syrup. The standard is three pumps for a tall, but if you prefer a pick-me-up that’s not so cloyingly sweet, ask for just two pumps.
Barista tip: Don’t confuse this for the Starbucks Reserve Hazelnut Bianco Latte—this can’t be veganized no matter how hard you try.
4. Toffee Nut Latte
Like the Cinnamon Dolce Latte, this flavor is available year-round, but Starbucks only promotes it when the leaves begin to fall. It’s a unique drink with a caramely, nutty flavor that’s sure to put a smile on your face. To veganize it, skip the whip and say no to the toffee nut sprinkles, which contain dairy.
Barista tip: Opt for oat or soy here—the creaminess of these plant-milks really elevate this beverage.
5. Flavored Mocha (or Hot Chocolate)
Gussy up a basic caffeinated hot chocolate (that’s what a mocha is) with the flavors of fall. Ask for a (insert your favorite non-dairy milk here) mocha with either hazelnut, cinnamon dolce, caramel, or toffee nut syrup and hold the whip. If you’re wondering, the caramel syrup is vegan but the caramel drizzle is not. We’re baffled, too.
Barista tip: Skip the Dark Chocolate Mocha—it’s made with ground chocolate that contains dairy.
6. Butterbeer Latte
Brought to you by our VegNews resident Starbucks barista—aka Senior Editor Richard Bowie—here’s how to hack your way to Hogwarts: order a tall soy latte with one pump each of caramel, toffee nut, and cinnamon dolce syrup plus extra foam and sea salt topping. The result is a delightful potion even Snape would award points to.
Barista tip: This beverage is best served hot. If you want an iced drink, save the butterbeer for another time.
7. Nutmeg London Fog Tea Latte
Trick out your typical tea latte by asking your barista to top your drink with a sprinkle of nutmeg. The warm spice will bring out the vanilla flavors of this mixed drink and add a layer of warm fuzzies to your morning.
Barista tip: This is really exceptional with oat milk.
8. Caramel Apple Spice
For many, fall officially starts with the first sip of hot apple cider. Starbucks’ rendition features steamed apple juice mixed with cinnamon syrup and topped with whipped cream and caramel drizzle. Veganize it by asking for no whip or caramel drizzle.
Barista tip: Add a depth of flavor by incorporating either a sprinkle of nutmeg or the turbinado sugar/sea salt mixture for a sweet-salty combo.
9. Cold Brew with Cinnamon Oatmilk Foam
This beverage was introduced during the summer, but anything with cinnamon deserves to be included on the fall menu. This lower-calorie, less-sweet option requires no modifications—it’s vegan as-is. Baristas top pure, unsweetened cold brew with a thick layer of cinnamon-spiked nitro oatmilk foam to create this cool coffee.
Barista tip: The ratio of foam to cold brew works best when you order a tall. Anything larger and you’ll be stuck sipping black coffee after the foam quickly fizzes off.
Tanya Flink is a Digital Editor at VegNews as well as a writer and runner living in Orange County, CA.
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