After being left with only ho-hum soy milk as a non-dairy option for years, Starbucks fans loosened their grip on their Lactaid pills when Starbucks began offering almond milk back in 2016.
The chain had introduced coconut milk the year prior, but almond milk is a much more versatile and viable alternative to dairy milk.
For those of us who live for our morning coffees, this news was huge — we didn't have to pretend to like soy milk anymore! We could try all the fun-flavored signature drinks! We might enjoy the taste of coffee again!
Almond milk has been so popular that Starbucks now releases almond milk-based drinks alongside their other seasonal promotional beverages, including almond milk macchiatos, Frappuccinos, and lattes.
As a shameless Starbucks stan with a shamelessly sensitive stomach, I take full advantage of the fact that I can make almost any beverage safely dairy-free with almond milk.
Should I, though?
Surely, some drinks simply aren't meant to be made with nut-based milk, right? We're about to find out.
I've tried 13 Starbucks beverages with their Califia Farms Barista Blend Almond Milk, and I'm here to tell you which ones to skip and which are worth sipping.
Trying Almond Milk in Starbucks Beverages:
1. Iced Coffee With Almond Milk
If the population is divided into people who are and aren't brave enough to tell a server that their order is wrong, loop me in with the politely-smiling folk quietly scraping the cheese off of their vegan burgers.
I hate asking a server or barista to have my order remade, but I was this close to doing just that when I received my iced coffee with almond milk.
As I reached for the cup, I instantly noticed little white granules floating around, making the coffee murky. If you've ever ordered almond milk from Starbucks, you may be familiar with this situation.
I'd assumed that milk only curdles in hot beverages, but almond milk actually curdles like this in cold coffee because of coffee's high acidity.
Unlike curdled dairy milk, almond milk is safe to drink like this. It doesn't taste too different, but I'd be lying if I said this didn't gross me out.
There was even a subtly grainy texture with each sip of the coffee, which was enough for me to throw the whole thing out. This might not happen every time you order almond milk, but I wouldn't risk it again.
2. Nitro Cold Brew With Almond Milk
Starbucks' Nitro Cold Brew is a coffee fanatic's dream. The cold brew is brewed with nitrogen gas, which might sound kind of scary, but it's actually pretty cool.
The nitrogen gas bubbles give the coffee a distinctly rich, creamy texture and a thick, frothy layer of foam. It's super satisfying and strong — it's not even sold as a venti because there's so much caffeine in it.
Since this is a smooth, creamy coffee on its own, I figured adding almond milk could only make it better. Despite having less acidity than iced coffee, I noticed right away that nitro cold brew will still make almond milk curdle.
The curdling was barely noticeable when I drank the coffee, but the almond milk taste was surprisingly detectable.
Since nitro cold brew is so strong and bold, I expected the notes of almond milk to take the backseat, but they sat right up front with the coffee.
However, the taste wasn't overpowering in a bad way, and the drink was enjoyable overall — frothy, bold, and very lightly nutty and sweet from the almond milk.
If you're like me and you already enjoy nitro cold brew on its own, you should probably just skip the almond milk.
3. Cold Brew With Almond Milk
I'm sure you can guess what I noticed when I picked up my cold brew with almond milk from Starbucks: curdled almond milk.
Since cold brew is naturally less acidic than iced coffee is, I hoped for a non-curdled miracle.
Despite the somewhat icky flecks of almond milk floating around in the cold brew, this tasted infinitely better than the iced coffee. Generally, cold brew has a bolder, richer, and smoother texture than iced coffee, so this wasn't a surprise.
As with most drinks, the almond milk added a bit of creaminess and sweetness that was enjoyable.
Although, the almond milk did separate from the coffee and settle to the bottom after a few hours in the refrigerator, which you can see in the above photo…do with that information what you will.
When it comes to avoiding dairy milk, I think the best route is to have Starbucks cold brew black. It has a nice rich flavor with subtle notes of chocolate.
With oat milk, it'd be very smooth and creamy, but potentially overly rich. As a non-fan of soy milk, I'd say that almond milk is the best non-dairy milk option for cold brew if you must have milk.
4. Salted Caramel Cold Foam Cold Brew
To be transparent, I drink almond milk (and coffee) a lot, so I know almond milk doesn't always froth well, especially when cold.
Thanks to lactose intolerance, I'm forced to miss out on the many varieties of rich, creamy cold foam that sit luxuriously atop cold brew at Starbucks.
Non-dairy java lovers like me perked up when Starbucks released its Dark Cocoa Almondmilk Cold Foam, but were sadly underwhelmed by it.
Almond milk simply doesn't make a thick, stiff foam like dairy milk. Since most locations discontinued the cocoa-flavored almond milk cold foam, I ordered a Salted Caramel Cream Cold Brew and asked the barista to sub almond milk in the foam.
They paused while typing in my order, and looked up at me with uncertainty before warning me that the drink wouldn't come out how it's supposed to.
I reassured the barista a few times that I knew what to expect and didn't mind, but they still seemed pretty hesitant to serve it to me.
They were right, of course. The foam — if you can call it that — was a thin veil of meager bubbles that dissolved into the coffee pretty quickly.
This drink tasted like a weird, watery, salty coffee.
The almond milk was barely detectable, and the saltiness of this drink wasn't complemented by the sweet, creamy foam as it should have been.
You should definitely skip cold foam with almond milk, but in Starbucks' defense, they did give me a fair warning.
5. Iced Toasted Vanilla Oatmilk Shaken Espresso
I know, this drink is made with oat milk, not almond.
When Starbucks first added oat milk to its lineup, it began selling out almost everywhere. As far as non-dairy milks at Starbucks go, it's the only one with a rich creaminess that's comparable to regular whole milk. The creaminess of oat milk can be delightful at times, but overwhelming at others.
Almond milk, on the other hand, has a thinner consistency. It's also much lower in calories, sugar, carbs, and fat, which means it's a little lighter on the stomach and the palate.
I've enjoyed Starbucks' signature Iced Toasted Vanilla Oatmilk Shaken Espresso before; it's sweet, creamy, and indulgent. It tastes good, but it's a little heavy and harsh on my sensitive stomach, especially in the mornings.
So, I figured I'd try swapping oats for almonds to see how the drinks would compare. The verdict: it's hard to pick a favorite!
Almond milk tasted great in this drink. It added the necessary milky creaminess to balance the bitterness of coffee and complement the sweetness. Plus, the slight nuttiness of almond milk was nice with the toasty vanilla flavors.
This version of the drink isn't as decadent or indulgent-tasting as the oat milk version, but it's perfectly tasty and much easier to sip without upsetting my stomach.
6. Cappuccino With Almond Milk
A classic cappuccino is made with equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk. Steamed milk might get a bit frothy, but the thick foamy top layer of milk is what characterizes a cappuccino.
I love a good cappuccino, so I was excited to see how almond milk might do in one.
Almond milk foams better when hot, but it doesn't foam as well as dairy milk. Still, I was pleasantly surprised by this cappuccino.
There was a good amount of foam on top, despite it being a bit more light and airy than thick and creamy.
The almond milk is slightly sweet, which helped the drink overall. Since this drink contains more almond milk than espresso, the milk's flavor somewhat overpowers the whole thing.
If you're not a fan of how almond milk tastes on its own, you might want to add some sweetener or skip this drink for a cortado, which contains equal parts espresso and milk.
7. Blonde Vanilla Latte With Almond Milk
Starbucks' Blonde Vanilla Latte is my favorite of their hot beverages. Spoiler alert: it's also my favorite hot beverage with almond milk.
Unlike a cappuccino, a latte contains mostly steamed milk and only a very thin layer of milk foam perched on top. As such, this is another drink in which the milk might overpower the coffee's flavors.
However, I think adding a sweetener (vanilla syrup, in this case) helps mellow out the almond milk's flavor nicely.
In this drink, the foamy almond milk you'll taste in the first few sips is sweet and vanilla-y with just the tiniest hint of earthiness from the espresso.
I might be biased towards Starbucks' Blonde espresso roast, but I believe it makes the perfect accompaniment to frothy almond milk. It's smooth, not too bitter, and lightly sweet.
Paired with the creamy (but not overly rich) almond milk and a hint of vanilla, I'd say that this drink is pretty perfect!
8. Almond Milk Caffé Misto
If you don't speak barista, you might wonder what the differences between these various kinds of coffee could be. We've learned the difference between a cappuccino and a latte, so what the heck is a caffé misto?
A caffé misto is similar to a regular coffee, except it's made with steamed milk instead of cold milk. It's also similar to lattes and flat whites, but the use of coffee instead of espresso makes the whole drink taste a bit less bold.
Coffee is more acidic and less smooth-tasting than espresso, so the almond milk's flavor was both overpowering and kind of bitter in this drink. I don't mind it terribly, but it does feel like drinking a cup of hot, coffee-flavored, semi-sour almond milk.
I think that adding a touch of sweetener could help mellow out the whole thing and make the frothy milk a bit more enjoyable.
9. Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino With Almond Milk
Starbucks' Frappuccinos are frozen coffees blended with milk and sweeteners. A Frappuccino's texture is usually somewhere between a milkshake and a slushie.
I chose a coffee-based Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino and subbed almond milk for whole milk. Unfortunately, doing so didn't mean I was ordering a dairy-free drink.
By default, all Frappuccinos come with whipped cream on top, which I had forgotten.
When I received my order, I figured I'd just scrape the stuff off the top and enjoy the rest of the drink.
Plot twist: the Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino is layered with whipped cream — go figure.
There's whipped cream pretty much throughout the drink, and, for the icing (or drizzle?) on top, I found out that Starbucks' caramel sauce is not dairy free — womp, womp.
I sipped this frozen drink a few times, and it was absolutely delicious. The almond milk didn't compromise the texture as much as I'd thought it would, so I'm sure it would make a good substitute in any of the Frappuccino flavors.
My lactose intolerance isn't necessarily a life-or-death condition; consuming dairy won't kill me, but it might make me appreciate living a little less for the several hours it takes my body to digest it.
I was able to give this drink a few cautious sips, but knowing that almond milk makes a decent non-dairy substitute, I'm excited to actually enjoy a flavor that won't wreak havoc on my organs!
Trying Signature Starbucks Almond Milk Drinks:
10. Honey Almond Milk Flat White
Time to add a new kind of coffee to your repertoire. If you're wondering what in the world a flat white is, I can assure you that it's much simpler than it sounds. It's the same thing as a caffé misto, but it's made with espresso instead of coffee.
Starbucks' signature Honey Almondmilk Flat White is made with steamed almond milk and honey-flavored syrup.
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this drink. As expected, espresso's boldness helped pull back the strong almond milk flavor, and a hint of sweetener made a perfect complement.
Something about the honey flavor was distinctly different from Starbucks' other sweeteners, and I loved that it tasted less artificial.
Overall, this beverage was smooth, frothy, lightly nutty, and perfectly sweetened. I'd say it would make a great morning coffee treat without being too indulgent.
11. Iced Chocolate Almond Milk Shaken Espresso
When Starbucks introduced its line of shaken espresso beverages, they were an instant hit.
Rich espresso combined with a touch of sweetener is made wonderfully frothy and foamy when shaken with ice and milk. Though several flavors have been released, only one is made with almond milk by default.
The Iced Chocolate Almondmilk Shaken Espresso is made with chocolate malt powder rather than chocolate syrup.
This helps it blend well throughout the drink, but I'll admit that this drink doesn't always come out great. Sometimes, the chocolate sits stubbornly at the bottom of the cup, and a lot of the time, the whole thing can get kind of watery.
In my opinion, the almond milk isn't thick or creamy enough to act as a good melding agent for the espresso and chocolate powder.
If it's shaken well enough, this drink tastes pretty good — kind of like an adult chocolate milk. Conversely, I've tried this drink with oat milk instead, and it's much better: chocolatey, creamy, and delicious.
12. Iced Sugar Cookie Almond Milk Latte
I love that we're now living in an era in which Starbucks releases dairy-free signature seasonal beverages in addition to their regular ones.
For the last couple of years, they've included a dairy-free, sugar cookie-flavored latte alongside their other holiday beverages.
I tried the Sugar Cookie Almond Milk Latte iced, and I loved it.
Espresso is less acidic than coffee, so almond milk doesn't seem to curdle in it, which is certainly an added bonus.
I'm not sure if it's because of potentially melted ice or the temperature, but almond milk's flavor is much more subtle in iced beverages.
Though this latte is made with more almond milk than espresso, I never felt like the taste of almond milk was distinctly detectable.
This drink is not too sweet, perfectly creamy, and adorably festive, thanks to the green and red sugar cookie sprinkles. I can't wait to have it again next year!
13. Cinnamon Almond Milk Macchiato
This is an older beverage that Starbucks promoted back in 2017, but you can still order it when Cinnamon Dolce syrup is in season.
To test my theory about almond milk tasting better in iced drinks, I ordered this one cold instead of hot.
A macchiato is similar to a latte, but with less milk. It's meant to include only a splash of milk, so the espresso is more at the forefront in flavor.
This signature drink is made with Cinnamon Dolce syrup, Cinnamon Dolce sprinkles, and caramel drizzle. Though most locations don't offer it on the menu anymore, I was able to create it myself by selecting these ingredients in the app.
This drink was super good, and that's honestly probably because I love cinnamon, and there's a lot of sugar in it. Caramel and cinnamon together could never taste bad.
Plus, this drink had the perfect milk-espresso ratio. I could enjoy the smooth, silky espresso thanks to a subtle mellow creaminess from the almond milk, and each swallow left a warm, sweet, cinnamon-y flavor in my mouth. I'd imagine that oat milk would be too rich to make this drink enjoyable, so I would consider this one pretty perfect and certainly worth the try!
Almond Milk for the Win
Shaken, stirred, steamed, and frothed —- I think I've tried almond milk in all its possible forms at Starbucks and have been reminded of its wondrous versatility. It's a fine mild-tasting non-dairy substitute in most drinks, and even when its flavor is a little overpowering, there's nothing a bit of sweetener can't help!