starbucks

Starbucks Debuts Coconut Milk That Isn’t Coconut Milk

In an attempt to appeal to the non-dairy crowd, Starbucks is bringing “coconut milk” to the masses. After a successful trial run in select cities at the behest of their customers, Starbucks has decided to push forward with their dairy alternative.

Providing a non-dairy alternative to dairy and soy is the second most requested customer idea of all time from MyStarbucksIdea.com, generating more than 84,000 votes. Starbucks will deliver this additional customization with the introduction of Starbucks Single Origin Sumatra Coconut Milk, a creamy, delicious alternative to dairy and soy for handcrafted beverages, available beginning February 17, in Starbucks US company-operated and licensed locations.

Those who are committed to real food are no stranger to real coconut milk. It’s deliciously thick and creamy, full of healthy saturated fats, and low in sugar.

That’s real coconut milk, though.

When Starbucks said they were debuting coconut milk as an option, my bullshit radar started scanning. And it found what I thought it would find: Starbucks is debuting coconut milk that isn’t coconut milk.

It’s not just that Starbucks coconut milk is a watered down version (which would be perfectly fine if it was otherwise unadulterated), it’s that it’s basically sugar water with emulsifiers and a little bit of coconut product.

ingredientsIngredients: 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, vitamin d2.

Ingredients in most legit coconut milk: Coconut milk, water.

Now, in all fairness, Starbucks has to make sure the coconut milk consistency is very, well…consistent. Domesticated humans don’t like chunks of coconut fat floating in their lattes, so you have to do some doctoring—I get it.

But corn? Multiple gums? Carrageenan?

“Carrageenan predictably causes inflammation, which can lead to ulcerations and bleeding,” explains veteran carrageenan researcher Joanne Tobacman, MD, associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Illinois School of Medicine at Chicago.

That’s not to say that everyone is going to start getting ulcers, but carrageenan is known to cause gut inflammation and digestive distress in many people. I’d rather do without it.

What’s also annoying is that they sweetened it. Thanks Starbucks—now, people who enjoy the taste of coconut milk in their drink can’t enjoy Starbucks coconut milk without also drinking sugar.

That’s not where the annoyances end though. The fat content is severely reduced. This isn’t surprising considering the base of Starbucks coconut milk is water.

Real coconut milk would have four to five times the fat content. This is important because low fat, high sugar beverages are notorious for driving cravings later. A higher fat, lower sugar beverage would help balance hormones and sustain satiety.

This kind of thing is pretty typical of Starbucks though. They’ve done a masterful job marketing themselves as being health-conscious and high quality, both of which they’re really not.

Starbucks, you had a chance to debut a real non-dairy alternative here and you blew it.

Update: I apparently didn’t make my point well enough in the original. What really annoyed me about this announcement was the misrepresentation of the product by Starbucks, citing “single origin Sumatra coconut milk…from the tropical Indonesian island of Sumatra.” And they sell the “rich creaminess” line over and over again, along with a story about all the testing they did (which is nonsense because their product is no better than the cheapest coconut milk product on the market).

starbucks

Have a different take? Leave a comment.

Kevin Geary

Kevin Geary is the founder of Rebooted Body and host of The Rebooted Body Podcast. He helps men and women finally get a body and life they love with his unique blend of real food, functional movement, and psychology. To work with him personally, choose a program.

All stories by: Kevin Geary
154 comments
  • Mike

    Breve latte – keep it real. ๐Ÿ˜‰ And better yet, buy your coffee from local coffee shops. Not just to support local businesses, but because it’s usually much better coffee.

    After several trips to San Francisco and drinking the coffee there, coming home to starbucks was like drinking bilge water. Bluuugghhh.

      • Louis Dickerson

        Mike,

        What, exactly, is “local”?

        If I live in Seattle, is Starbucks “local”?

        I drink my coffee black, but I need to know which shops I should be frequenting!

        Thanks Mike!

        • Erica

          Louis, local just means more of a mom and pop type of coffee shop. And Mike is right. Nine times out of ten it is way better coffee. I’m sure Seattle has some great little shops too!

        • Lacey

          If you’re in Seattle, find a coffee shop that uses Stumptown, Ladro, Batdorf & Bronson. Those are three of my go to coffee choices, and they are all excellent black!

          • Roland

            Or come see us over at Jibe Espresso Bar in Seattle for excellent coffee and house made almond milk for your non-dairy alternative. This stuff is made fresh with organic almonds and delicious!

            Thanks,

            The Jibe Team ๐Ÿ™‚

        • Sarah Walsh

          I’m so glad people are frustrated about this mockery of a non-dairy alternative. The good news is that there are a number of coffee shops that are independent, specialty shops that don’t take these short-cuts.

          Barista Magazine has been compiling many of them for coffee lovers through their Coffee Scout app. It’s a great little gem of an app.

    • LeAnn

      This is part of the problem with American capitalism. Starbucks started as a local mom and pop type shop. Success has resulted in growth and so they then become the bad guys.

  • Derp

    While I would never consume this knowingly — save for a survival situation — we probably shouldn’t get too upset about this faux ‘coconut milk’. Sure, it’s important to get the education out about what it really is and what known good nutrition is, but let the idiots have their cup of ignorance. If they really cared they’d be more aware about their consumption — they were going to order something stupid sugary anyway.

    • Kevin Geary

      My main issue is with the constant “play” of quality and realness where neither actually exist.

      I don’t see “the masses” as ignorant or stupid. I just don’t think they’ve arrived at a place of caring…yet.

      So I have to commit to continuing to educate those who are willing to listen and when the time comes for the others, I’ll be here for them too.

      Thanks for your comment.

      • Magda

        Upsetting that they refortified it with synthetic Vitamin A derived from palm-oil. Thanks for writing this. This coconut milk is a disaster for the environment and for the trusting consumer.

        • M. McKinnon

          And for those who think they’re avoiding soy with this garbage, “natural flavors” are wrapped in soy lecithin, which is not just soy, but an industrial waste product from the manufacturing of soybean oil.
          The little Mrs. got one of these a few weeks ago thinking she was being healthy and avoiding dairy. I smelled it and thought something was fishy. I took a taste and knew it was junk. It tastes like the squirt bottle flavorings they use. Sugar and flavoring.
          And it just plain tastes like crap!

      • janereaction

        Thanks for taking time out to share, I love coconut milk and coconut water and was excited about the addition. Now that I know what it really is I won’t buy…ever.

      • melissa

        Maybe “smart” people will disagree but I care about what I am doing to my body, I just can’t keep up with all the science. So, thanks, Mike, for helping people like me.

    • Sarah

      I’ve never seen coconut milk with sugar added, so it didn’t occur to me to check it out until the day after my delicious Americano with coconut milk added….thank you for the heads up Kevin! I won’t be making that mistake again and will instead bring powdered coconut milk with me next time.

    • Lizzy

      No I don’t think that is true. I beleive that living in this awesome country should also come with the right to eat unadulterated food… Stop the trickery. Some people do not know any better.. If it says its coconut milk it must be coconut milk. I really despise how hard I have to search for food that hasn’t been ‘messed’ with.

  • ChefC

    I’m just curious as to where you obtained the picture with the list of ingredients?

    Understandably Starbucks is looking to help out those with intolerances and allergies.

    Not everyone is going to like ingredients that are in things. If you’re set on eating real food 100% of the time which is great, there are also those that choose to have a cheat once in awhile.
    A once in a couple months coconut latte that isn’t made with pure coconut milk from a can isnt going to kill anyone.
    Just my two cents.

    • Kevin Geary

      Hi Chef,

      I’m not sure I really understand your argument. It’s duly noted that Starbucks is trying to make an offering for people with allergies (and ride the recent wave of interest in coconut milk and healthier options at the same time).

      I don’t have any issue with that.

      I take issue with marketing something as one thing, when it’s clearly not. Especially when the thing they’re claiming they’re offering is very easy to offer in a quality way.

      Not everyone is going to like ingredients that are in things. If youโ€™re set on eating real food 100% of the time which is great, there are also those that choose to have a cheat once in awhile.

      Well, for one, we don’t call it “cheating” here. We’re not interested in eating real food 100% of the time (that’s not even possible). But that doesn’t really have anything to do with the argument.

      The argument is very simple: Starbucks had a chance to offer something of quality and chose not to (even though they are marketing it as such).

      A once in a couple months coconut latte that isnโ€™t made with pure coconut milk from a can isnt going to kill anyone.

      Nobody said it will. And most Starbucks people go daily, not once every couple of months, so the impact would be a lot greater than you’re alluding to if people are unaware of the issue, which is why I hope to bring awareness to the lack of quality and realness, right?

      • janereaction

        Either the whole article was not read or the part about the “carrageenan is known to cause gut inflammation and digestive distress in many people” was completely skimmed over…idk about you but digestive distress even once is once to many.

      • J

        People can afford to go to Starbucks daily? It must be a nice luxury, but I stopped going after a few recent trips realizing how much I was spending. Just make some coffee at home and carry it in a thermos. In all honesty, some people who go to Starbucks are in an income bracket where they do not realize they have the luxury to afford it, and I even read one blog where they were poking fun of people who ordered coffees with what they considered “cheat ingredients”. For instance, ordering a plain coffee and then using the condiment bar. One commenter on a blog said people who did not have enough money should go to Dunken Donuts to buy theirs. People who have the luxury to afford Starbucks coffee might not care, but sometimes their comments feel like they are in another world. I want to eat healthy and have good ingredients too, but just my two cents.

  • Louis Dickerson

    Kevin, the point of your article was informative. 16 months after committing to a Paleo lifestyle, combined with an emphasis on fitness, I’m 65 pounds lighter and free of medicine (blood pressure & type II).

    Thank you for bringing the ingredients list to light. It seems I temporarily fell asleep at the wheel when I recently added coconut milk to my program. I’ve begun to use it in an occasional smoothie. Now that you’ve pointed out the contamination I’m engaging in, can you recommend a reputable brand? I’m not seeing anything other than garbage in my local grocery store this evening. Again, you’ve reminded me of the need to be hyper-vigilant, and I thank you for that.

    With all that said, I’m not a fan of the Starbucks bashing. I grind it and drink it daily… black… from a French Press, and I’m totally good with that. I don’t care what comes out of San Francisco or anywhere else. Just like drinking a cup of sugar and calling it coffee, the choice to drink mine black is a personal one.

    Again, thank you for the info!

    Respectfully.

    • Kevin Geary

      Hi Louis,

      Real coconut milk comes in cans. Your grocery store should carry it. Try to find organic. If it’s in a bottle/carton, it’s probably adulterated.

    • Rebecca C.

      The only coconut I’ve found that it just coconut milk and water is “Natural Value” Organic coconut milk. I am sure there are others, but I haven’t found another without the “gums.” It’s often available on Amazon and at my local natural foods store. Be advised though, without the gums as emulsifiers, its consistency is a bit different and takes more blending/heating in order to come to a more familiar smooth consistency.

      • Danielle

        Hi Rebecca!
        This is exactly why Starbucks and your local coffee joints don’t use it. It’s not feasible to be used in commercial production. I think everybody would benefit from learning to drink coffee black. Problem solved…… Now where do they get their beans??…..

      • Sky

        We use Golden Star brand coconut milk daily. It is both guar gum free and in BPA free cans. We can find it fairly easily in Food For Less stores and sometimes in WalMart. It is also very inexpensive. Just an FYI as there are lots of higher priced, guar gum laden choices out there. carry on………

    • Shay

      Aroy-D coconut milk also comes in cartons and ALL it is is coconut milk and water. I work at a Paleo food cart and restaurant and this is what we use.

      • Kevin Geary

        Exactly. It can be done…when people care. Starbucks only cares about marketing. Which is surprising because it means they’re completely missing the trend of people caring about REAL food and REAL ingredients.

    • Elicia P

      Louis,

      You can find the cans in the supermarket. Just find coconut milk. When you make it place it in your blender with some added water. You can sweeten it with dates or vanilla bean if you would like.
      You have to play with the water amount to get the consistency that you like.

  • Danielle

    Sorry, but duh!! Who thought it would ever be coconut milk from a can? Of course it isn’t. This product is the same as most milk alternatives offered out there, including almond, soy, hemp, and so on. Nobody uses canned coconut milk. If you are interested in controlling what is in your food and drink, make it yourself. But don’t whine you find out that food and drink establishments aren’t following your strict adherence to Paleo diet. They have other things to worry about (heat tolerance, shelf stability, consistency) when it comes to preparing your coffee or food. And once again don’t eat or drink out if you want to be 100% in control.

    • Kevin Geary

      Hi Danielle,

      We aren’t Paleo, first of all. Second, as I’ve already said, this has nothing to do with being 100%.

      Starbucks markets this as extra special coconut milk, and it’s not. The fact that “everyone uses fake stuff” was an OPPORTUNITY for starbucks to step up and be different (kind of like they always claim they are).

      • Danielle

        Well, I apologize for assuming you are Paleo. But, it just seems to be a Starbucks bashing post then. Once again it is not feasible to use can coconut milk in this type of large establishment. In fact, I can’t think of any local organic coffee joints utilizing canned coconut milk either. Nor have I ever seen people using grassfed cream or half and half either. Perhaps somebody out there has. I find conventional milks just as negative. So, it then becomes a choice between the lesser of the evils. I have learned to break the addiction of “creamy” coffee and drink mine black. But if there is ever an occasion Id like a “special ” drink this Starbucks coconut milk latte is a possible option. But I do feel calling it a fake coconut milk is misleading. That is unless you call most almond, hemp, cashew milk the same. Maybe we should stop trying to “milk” non-milk items all together.

        • Kevin Geary

          It’s a fallacy to say that it would have to be canned to be decent quality. Thy could have easily had a high quality product…if they cared. It doesn’t have to be perfect coconut milk to be FAR more acceptable than what they’ve offered. Yet they tell us this grand story of “Sumatra” sourcing, blah blah. You’re still missing the point.

          • Adam

            Kevin Geary. Man, you have a lot of time on your hands to respond to each comment on this blog.

            First of all, you didn’t answer the question above: where did you get the photo for the ingredients in their coconut milk?

            Secondly, totally agree that this is Starbucks bashing. Any milk substitute you can buy at the store has – more or less the same ingedients, notably carageenan and various gums as well as cane sugar:

            http://silk.com/products/original-coconutmilk
            http://silk.com/products/original-almondmilk
            http://sodeliciousdairyfree.com/products/coconut-milk-beverages/original

            It is not the responsibility of Starbucks to re-define the milk substitute universe. They are taking the only reasonable step (any) coffee shop would take to listen to their customers and provide them with reasonable accommodations. If 95% of the milk substitutes people would drink at home are too full of bad stuff, you can’t possibly go out for a coffee drink in any public place and expect otherwise.

            I also wanted to point out that there is no concrete evidence that carageenan causes any intestinal maladies in humans. There are some suspicions, but this is definitely not a proven fact. See below:

            http://chriskresser.com/harmful-or-harmless-carrageenan

            http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/melissa-ramos/almond-milk-carrageenan_b_4719193.html

            I’m not a Starbucks employee and I don’t ever go to Starbucks, but I’m getting sick and tired of the alarmist bs when it comes to food additives. Some caution is warranted, but think about the alternatives.

            Be smart, everyone. Don’t listen to scare tactics.

          • Kevin Geary

            Hi Adam,

            This is not a hobby blog. We run this platform and brand full time and engaging with those who take time to leave a comment is one of our top priorities.

            First of all, you didnโ€™t answer the question above: where did you get the photo for the ingredients in their coconut milk?

            I actually did answer the question >> http://rebootedbody.com/starbucks-coconut-milk/#comment-149667

            Secondly, totally agree that this is Starbucks bashing. Any milk substitute you can buy at the store has โ€“ more or less the same ingedients, notably carageenan and various gums as well as cane sugar.

            1) “Any” is not “all.”
            2) Those brands you linked to don’t claim to have superior sourced quality coconut milk with fancy names, do they?

            It is not the responsibility of Starbucks to re-define the milk substitute universe.

            No, it’s their responsibility to not misrepresent the quality of their product. It’s also, as I’ve stated numerous times now, an OPPORTUNITY for them to LISTEN to the marketplace and provide a real solution to a challenge they faced. They chose not to do that.

            If 95% of the milk substitutes people would drink at home are too full of bad stuff, you canโ€™t possibly go out for a coffee drink in any public place and expect otherwise.

            I DO expect it, if it’s “Sumatra” coconut milk “made from single-origin coconuts from the tropical Indonesian island of Sumatra.”

            Again, this is mostly about misrepresentation (and hidden sugar).

            And again, I drink quality coconut milk at home and so do most of the people who have committed to eating real food. When someone says they have single origin coconut milk from an Indonesian island, they don’t immediately think “chemical sugar water.”

            I also wanted to point out that there is no concrete evidence that carageenan causes any intestinal maladies in humans.

            It hasn’t been significantly studied in humans. A lack of evidence doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem, it means there is a lack of evidence in either direction. I know from experience working with clients in 26 countries around the world that it’s a problem for many people. How many people have you worked with?

            Iโ€™m not a Starbucks employee and I donโ€™t ever go to Starbucks, but Iโ€™m getting sick and tired of the alarmist bs when it comes to food additives. Some caution is warranted, but think about the alternatives.

            Calling a company out for their over the top marketing and lack of quality (when they market quality) is not alarmism. I don’t think you know what that word means.

          • Kyla

            Starbucks puts sugar in everything, even their green tea which is matcha powder has powdered sugar already built it.

            The ingredients in the coconut milk they are allegedly going to use are pretty standard to most store bought milk alternatives. It’s unfortunate but it’s easier for the average consumer to take plus makes for consistency and its preserved for shelf life.

            Gross in my opinion, I use canned organic coconut milk and make my own nut milks but you can find relatively clean products out there if that’s what you are looking for.

            Starbucks is the McDonalds of coffee shops, don’t go there if you are looking for a healthier alternative!

          • Kevin Geary

            Hi Kyla,

            Don’t you think the sugar was unnecessary though? They have heavy whipping cream and didn’t put sugar in that…it was possible to do this without sugar. If people want sugar, they can add it separately. That was a horrible move IMO.

          • Crystal

            Hi Adam, Thankfully, the Silk brand of Almond milk does NOT have carrageenan in it. I’m one of those people who usually experience digestive upset whenever I ingest anything with carrageenan in it, I’ve been drinking Silk Almond milk for awhile now.

        • Sarah Walsh

          My small coffee company uses milk from grass-fed dairy cows. We focus on ethically sourced and nutritionally dense ingredients. There are coffee companies out there who DO really care about these things.

          As a consumer, if you are jaded by the coffee industry, that’s okay. Coffee, as the worlds number two traded commodity after oil, isn’t going away anytime soon. There are certainly places in every city where great coffee is being served with great ingredients. Please look for us. These types of specialty coffee shops and companies do care deeply and want to serve our customers who are educated on these issues.

          Look for us. We are out there and we care.

  • Jenna

    Hi Kevin!

    Very informative. I was excited to hear that Starbucks was coming out with coconut milk, but with the added sugar, I think I’ll skip it…. Wondering where you got the ingredients picture from?

  • julie

    interesting piece, thank you for highlighting the true situation. Confirms my base rule which is “don’t consume what I can’t pronounce” – since several or more of the “ingredients” in that list are unfamiliar to me, and sound more appropriate for a science lab than my kitchen cupboard, think I’ll be giving the “coconut milk” the swerve for the foreseeable.

  • Adam

    Kevin,

    Thank you for taking the time to thoughtfully respond to my statements. I like what you have to say and I agree that we all eat terrible things and the world would be better off without all these additives. I also agree that this is all a marketing ploy and perhaps they shouldn’t be patting themselves on the back for creating a “healthy latte”.

    I’m going to have to ponder this concept to figure out what is the responsibility of a company like Starbucks to be honest with their marketing materials and what is realistic for them if they really do want to make a healthier option for folks.

    People should just make their own food and coffee drinks. It’s as simple as that, right? Isn’t that what you are promoting with this blog?

    My apologies for insinuating that this was a hobby blog, I read your About section after posting.

    • Kevin Geary

      Thanks for you reply. Here’s the context of what I teach: If you’re stopping by a Starbucks and know that you tolerate carrageenan and don’t mind having a little sugar in your coffee, then go with their coconut milk. I could totally see myself putting it in my coffee on any given day (not a regular basis).

      This isn’t about dogma. It’s not about perfection. That’s not what I teach. This is about an informed public and holding companies accountable for their promotions and standards.

      If it didn’t have sugar in it and it appeared that they made all attempts to use the fewest emulsifiers required to get a consistent product, then I probably never would have written this article.

      Instead, it was clear to me that they chose a coconut milk *product* that’s no better than some of the worst brands and promoted it like it’s gold: “single sourced from tropical Indonesian islands.”

      That’s not cool with me.

      I’m not a Starbucks basher either. I wrote another article about Starbucks and their food options that started out with me saying that I go to Starbucks often, drink their coffee from time to time, etc. I have no problem with Starbucks other than what I’ve described in my articles.

  • Louis Dickerson

    And, after more research, I’ve learned about bisphenol-A.

    It seems like a fella’s really gotta try if he wants to find quality coconut milk.

    And again, it’s another reminder that real food doesn’t come in a package anyway.

  • Rachel Gulotta

    Where do you buy coconut milk that doesn’t include gums? Whole Foods doesn’t even carry anything like that. I’m allergic to gums and genuinely interested. I’ve scanned so many cans of coconut milk, but have never been able to find one with two simple ingredients.

    • Lisa

      HI Rachel,
      Trader Joe’s sells Light Coconut Milk for .99 a can with just two ingredients: coconut and water. The regular, full-fat coconut milk has extra additives. Hope this helps! –Lisa

  • Chelsey

    Just wondering how you found the ingredients list. I tried searching online and could only find nutritional info (which obviously shows that something has been added, based on the amount of sugar it contains). But I couldn’t find full ingredients. I completely agree with you that it’s annoying and misleading to market this as healthy natural coconut milk. I basically just wanted to verify the ingredients list before I post a link to this. Thanks for exposing stuff like this to help make people more aware of what’s being added to our food.

  • Erica

    I’ve worked for advertising agencies for some time now, including foodservice and food retail advertising and what you’re describing is unfortunately totally legal because the coconut milk very well could come from Sumatran single origin coconuts, regardless of the percentage of the coconut milk in the product. Similar to leaves of bread that boast 100% whole grain that still contain preservatives and other chemicals. The point people are missing is that Starbucks’ customers are lead to believe they’re getting something nutritious when there’s much more to it. And because it’s described the way it is, fewer people will be inclined to dig deeper and see what they’re actually putting in their bodies. Great article, I can’t wait to peruse the rest of the site!

    • Kevin Geary

      I get that it’s totally legal. My argument was never that it wasn’t legal, only that it’s disingenuous. It’s really unfortunate that a company like Starbucks who claims to be “hip” to the current culture doesn’t recognize that the real-food movement is growing by leaps and bounds and that this kind of misrepresentation is unacceptable.

      Thanks for your comment.

  • Jason

    Kevin, Thank you for this article. Great information and I appreciate your interaction with the readers. I was also skeptical when I heard about the coconut milk at Starbucks.

    I agree 100% that it is about educating and knowing exactly what you are ingesting. If your readers know the ingredient list and the effects these ingredients may cause then they can make their own choices.

    It is the deception we must uncover and be diligent about.

    In this case I urge people to simply ask the barrista to take a quick look at the coconut milk carton he is pouring from. They will give it to you.

    Great work Kevin!

  • Lisa

    Dear Kevin,
    This is my first visit to your website and I appreciate your candor, clarity, and patience.

    I love Starbucks. Truly. I am a university professor who is very friendly with the Starbucks outlet in the building where I teach. Not only do I have a Starbucks Gold Card with my name on it; if I see my students standing behind me in line before class, I call them up ahead of me and buy their drinks too. (It saves time and no one late for class that way.)

    I saw the “Now Serving Coconut Milk” poster and nearly swooned. I’d just completed a 28-day clean/local/slow eating program for the first time (www.28tolife.com) and was weary of all the new things required for the adjustment. (Making your own applesauce? A hassle, but finally delicious. No sugar? Shoot me now, thanks) I’ve finished the program, but plan to continue because the results were good for me. I have a PhD and can read all manner of large words so the “don’t eat what you can’t pronounce” was not a persuasive strategy for healthful living, but ultimately, I grew accustomed to reading labels and started caring what guar, xantham, and other gums were.

    So, it was with a sinking heart that I read the arm’s length of ingredients on the Coco”NOT”milk label. Disappointment turned quickly to outrage when I realized that Starbucks was simply casting a Health Halo (see Brian Wansink’s book *Mindless Eating* for a gloss of that term) over their product and using it as a lasso to capture people who actually care about their food coming from a “single origin.” Already, I have seen health food blogs sing of the praises of this product as Paleo-friendly, vegan, and otherwise dietarily substantive.

    I hope that more exposure of the problems with this coco”NOT”milk will lead Starbucks to re-craft its formula, but I doubt it. It is much easier for Starbucks and its many fans to label its critics as “haters.” Is it also easy for Real Food lovers to say “skip Starbucks, buy local.” But this marketing problem has relevance beyond Starbucks: it’s about the ethical obligations, if any such obligations exist, of a billion dollar food/beverage industry. This “single origin” strategy is a lie based on the tiniest kernel of truth and easily exposed. It remains to be seen if anything will change.

    Thank you for reading all this and I apologize for taking up so much space here. I was just glad to see someone talking about it. Thank you.

    p.s. Anyone can buy clean light coconut milk from Trader Joe’s for .99 a can. Ingredients: Coconut, Water.

  • Lisa

    Dear Kevin,
    This is my first visit to your website and I appreciate your candor, clarity, and patience.

    I love Starbucks. Truly. I am a university professor who is very friendly with the Starbucks outlet in the building where I teach. Not only do I have a Starbucks Gold Card with my name on it; if I see my students standing behind me in line before class, I call them up ahead of me and buy their drinks too. (It saves time and no one is late for class that way.)

    I saw the “Now Serving Coconut Milk” poster and nearly swooned. I’d just completed a 28-day clean/local/slow eating program for the first time (www.28tolife.com) and was weary of all the new things required for the adjustment. (Making your own applesauce? A hassle, but finally delicious. No sugar? Shoot me now, thanks) I’ve finished the program, but plan to continue because the results were good for me. I have a PhD and can read all manner of large words so the “don’t eat what you can’t pronounce” was not a persuasive strategy for healthful living, but ultimately, I grew accustomed to reading labels and started caring what guar, xantham, and other gums were.

    So, it was with a sinking heart that I read the arm’s length of ingredients on the Coco”NOT”milk label. Disappointment turned quickly to outrage when I realized that Starbucks was simply casting a Health Halo (see Brian Wansink’s book *Mindless Eating* for a gloss of that term) over their product and using it as a lasso to capture people who actually care about their food coming from a “single origin.” Already, I have seen health food blogs sing of the praises of this product as Paleo-friendly, vegan, and otherwise dietarily substantive.

    I hope that more exposure of the problems with this coco”NOT”milk will lead Starbucks to re-craft its formula, but I doubt it. It is much easier for Starbucks and its many fans to label its critics as “haters.” Is it also easy for Real Food lovers to say “skip Starbucks, buy local.” But this marketing problem has relevance beyond Starbucks: it’s about the ethical obligations, if any such obligations exist, of a billion dollar food/beverage industry. This “single origin” strategy is a lie based on the tiniest kernel of truth and easily exposed. It remains to be seen if anything will change.

    Thank you for reading all this and I apologize for taking up so much space here. I was just glad to see someone talking about it. Thank you.

    p.s. Anyone can buy clean light coconut milk from Trader Joe’s for .99 a can. Ingredients: Coconut, Water.

  • Maria Reid

    Hi, I am a Starbucks addict. While I appreciate you looking out for us addicts, and pointing out the cocoNOT milk now being peddled by Starbucks, it is important to note that a cup of coffee with PURE coconut milk is nothing but a cup of nasty-looking, clumpy, greasy nastiness (trust me, I tried to make it work). Therefore, in order to provide a viable alternative to dairy, soy, and other nuts, Starbucks has developed a substitute that can emulsify and blend with the different types of beverages they offer.

    Note that the ingredients list on the soy container is also a “blend”, in order to make it actually work. Also, note that if us consumers were to dissect all advertising claims, we would never buy anything…ever. They. All. Lie.

    Frankly, I think you are making a much bigger deal about this than warranted, and I imagine it’s for one of two reasons (or both): 1) you are sincerely ignorant to the facts on how to blend beverages that remain STABLE after consumers leave the drive-thru windows, or 2) you are trying to stir the pot in an effort to increase your internet presence. In either case, it does not negate the fact that I want Starbucks to make my delicious beverage, with a dairy-soy-nut alternative that won’t cause me to become ill all day.

    So, while I appreciate the heads up on the extras in my cocoNOT-based beverage, I will continue to weigh the pros and cons of drinking my latte sans “pure” coconut milk.

    • Kevin Geary

      Hi Maria,

      Just because you don’t care about misrepresentation and chemical sugar water doesn’t mean others shouldn’t. It also doesn’t mean I’m writing articles to “increase my internet presence” or because I’m “ignorant about blending beverages.”

      Perhaps you could rephrase your thoughts in a way that’s not so one-up, disrespectful, and dismissive?

  • Sky

    Kevin,

    Thanks for all the info, thought, research and heart you put into this. First time visitor here and it won’t be my last.

    I am one of those who cannot stand the taste of coffee in any form so I could give a rats ass about SB’s.

    However, the point from my perspective was providing information to the masses that we once again are being pandered to by a corporation who is jumping on the proverbial “health” bandwagon by selling us something that is not what they represent it to be. Meh…..go figure.

    To that end I say “thanks man!” for watching out for us sheep (well some of us anyway…..wink), who will buy anything if the company in question just uses the right buzz words.

    Carry on!!!! Looking forward to more of the blog.

  • Mandy

    Thanks for the information, it was helpful. I was wondering what the ingredients were going to be in the new coconut milk. Added sugar for me is a no no. Sounds like a lot of ingredients for coconut milk! Most of their drinks already have tons of sugar. If I get a chai latte I get half sweet. I agree they could have done better.
    Not everyone gets coffee, some get a chai latte, hot chocolate for their kids, a sugar free milk with less additives would have been better option. I am trying to get myself off Starbucks in general. They use too much sugar, their soy milk is not the greatest either in terms of nutrition. Some people have or two a day so it can add up the system.

    • Kevin Geary

      Yeah, I’m not sure what the thought process was on sweetening it. If people want it to be sweet, they can add sugar. It ruined it for everyone who wanted an unsweetened version.

  • Jean

    I found your article very enlightening since I had heard that Starbucks was considering offering coconut milk as an option. I too have been a very loyal Starbucks customer and appreciated that they were considering adding this healthy choice to their menu. Over the past year I have been learning about the amazing health benefits of anything coconut related and more specifically coconut oil. I found out that a lot of people added coconut oil to their coffee and thought that would be a nice option to have. I now take packages of 2GO Coconut Oil with MCT Oil with me and add it to my Starbucks. It is pure coconut and MCT oil with nothing else added. It’s the perfect amount for me and I carry it with me all of the time. Reading your article provides insight into Starbucks idea of “healthy” and gives reason to ask questions about what is actually in “healthy” products being offered to the public.

    • Kevin Geary

      Forgive me, but I’m struggling to see the relevance of your comment Daniel.

      I don’t advocate for people putting milk in coffee. And the amount of sugar in anything that’s not coconut milk has no bearing on the fact that coconut milk shouldn’t have sugar in it.

  • Krista

    They just need to add unsweetened Almond milk. It is only 30 calories a cup and tastes so good. It is low in sugar and helps those who are pre-diabetic or diabetic, non dairy, non soy, non corn and carageean(sp?). And gasp! It is good for you – that is unless you are allergic to almonds, but I’m not so it works for me! Please?! I can beg if it comes to that.

  • Jamie

    So….to sum it up, Starbucks did a wonderful marketing job, trying to appeal to those that are non-dairy, in an attempt to include them in their billion-dollar enterprise of expensive hot water.

    Just in case people weren’t aware: you can make coffee at home, and control what goes into it, for pennies.

  • Tracey

    Do you happen to have the full image of the nutrition information? Curious about how much sugar ended up in a given serving and how big a serving is. Thanks!

  • Katie

    I was so excited to try one of these, I asked for coconut milk latte from the Starbucks Barista a few days ago and they told me that although it wasn’t officially launched that they could make me one. I ordered a simple latte with just espresso and coconut milk, no syrup and it was sweet….like really sweet. I knew something was up and I was interested in tracking down this ingredients list, thanks so much for posting…I’d rather drink my bulletproof anyway.

  • Dave

    That picture of the label doesn’t say anything about the source of the coconuts. Is there something else on the package that indicates they are not from Sumatra?

    • Kevin Geary

      I never said they weren’t from Sumatra. I clearly said the representation of the product does not align with what’s actually being provided. The SUM of the product is no better than the cheapest coconut milk beverage on store shelves. That’s not what’s being sold with the story about “single origin coconut milk from tropical Indonesian islands.”

  • Dr. Cat

    Your headline is super-misleading. I saw it and clicked on the link to read this story expecting to react “Wow, there’s no coconut in there and they used some weird vegetable oil plus artificial coconut flavoring or god knows what”? But then I read the story and two of the ingredients are coconut! Then you complain about their marketing (annoying but expected hype from big companies) – and be honest, do you have any proof the coconut cream and coconut water ingredients in there are NOT “single-sourced from Sumatra”? Because you sure sound like you’re complaining about that too, even if you didn’t mean to sound that way. As for them putting sugar in there… I don’t think it makes a lot of difference whether they make one of their sugary coffee drinks by putting sugar in the coffee drink and then adding pure coconut water, or by putting sugar in the coconut water AND the sugary coffee drink and then mixing the two together. Be honest, anybody who doesn’t know that they’re getting “liquid candy coffee” from that place with all their caramel and whipped cream mixed in just isn’t paying attention. Would I drink the stuff? No, I don’t even like coffee, and I avoid sugary drinks for my health. But do I think Starbucks is “tricking” me with their marketing? No, I expect a sugary drink there whether they add their new creamer alternative or not. Wake up and smell the, um, vaguely coffee-ish think milkshake sugar drink. Seriously. At least they put some actual coconut in what they claim to be coconut – which YOUR misleading marketing bullshit headline implies there’s none of in there. Go with a less inflammatory, click-baity exaggerated headline and go with a more honest headline like “Starbucks coconut creamer contains icky extra ingredients”, not “Starbucks coconut creamer isn’t coconut”. It is too god-damned coconut, twice on the ingredient list, as shown by your own evidence. YOU are performing marketing that is more misleading than the Starbucks marketing you decry.

    • Kevin Geary

      It’s pretty clear you’ve missed the point. Since I can’t write another article for you, I’ll have to simply direct you to try and read the original one slower the second time and try your best to connect the dots.

      I’d also recommend that you stop acting like a spoiled eight year old. If you disagree with something, you can do so without cursing and name calling.

  • Gary

    You state that Starbucks’ coconut milk is watered down compared to “legitimate” coconut milks, which have “coconut milk” and “water” as their first two ingredients, respectively. Assuming we’re looking at cartons, not cans of coconut milk, two leading brands are So Delicious and Silk, and they subdivide their “coconut milk” ingredient into sub-ingredients, the first two of which are “water and coconut cream” – the same as the first two ingredients in the Starbucks coconut milk.

    So actually the first ingredient in these “legitimate” brands is water, and the only apparent difference is that the Starbucks coconut milk is a bit more straightforward with their ingredients.

    Does Starbucks over-hype? Yes, like just about every corporation. I agree with your basic point there, but compared to say, KFC and other companies with non-stop TV commercials, Starbucks is subdued with their marketing. In fact, at my local Starbucks, as far as I can tell, most of the customers don’t even know there’s a coconut milk option. (I use it as a second home office, so I overhear a lot of ordering, and I also asked the baristas).

    Also, I don’t consider dairy to be real food. We breed cows to grossly overproduce milk, we forcibly impregnate them (basically by shoving a fist and instrumentation inside them), we keep them pregnant and lactating almost constantly, we take their babies from them and prevent the babies from nursing with their mothers, and we kill the mother cows at about five years old in high-volume slaughterhouses. These are all standard practices; factory farms heap on additional cruelties. The worst coconut milk is a step up from this.

    • Kevin Geary

      This has already been explained. Why do I get the feeling, that with the latest rash of aggressive comments, that this got shared on a Starbucks support forum somewhere…

  • jont

    Just not sure how “real” a lot of these other milks are that people buy..pretty sure many soy.almond,rice,cocnut and Hemp milks have more than just the named source and water..so Is starbucks doing anything worse that “silk” or “soydream/Ricedream” (popular brands around my area) with their “coconut milk”??
    I’m asking this as a question not saying it or it isnt the same.
    Thank you!

  • Traci

    I was excited for maybe a Nano second. Than I read that it really is not coconut milk just sugar water. Than I read what carrageenan does to your body and with a sensitive system anyway I will have to pass.

    If there was any locally owned coffee shops here I would not even comment on this as I try not to do any business with Starbucks. But a vanilla cappuccino sounds really yummy right now.

  • dennis bullard

    We recently had a Starbucks open in Australia…. My God the coffee is like train station coffee….pig swill! Can’t see what all the hype is about when it comes to people being addicted to “Starbucks” I think it’s just a yuppy thing that gets thrown into conversation in the US to sound upmarket, I’ll never grace their shop again, I can get better coffee at the Italian shop down the road

  • Kmoore

    Wish they would simply provide almond milk for us mom-dairy peeps.
    Of course, it sounds like they’d sweeten that, too!
    Both coconut milk and almond milk in their pure, unsweetened, unrefined form would seem to be no-brainers.
    Usually, health conscious people read labels!!!

  • Stephanie

    I kicked Starbucks to the curb years ago. They are not going to do anything that is more expensive to them, as real coconut products would be. Chemicals rule when cost-cutting. The only benefit here, perhaps, is that fewer animals will be harmed if it catches on. In all fairness, it looks like they’ve made a “coconut-based non-dairy creamer,” not coconut milk. Even at the grocery store, when you look at the aseptic packages of coco-creamer, it’s got a lot of pretty cruddy stuff in it. I would agree with the point that most people willing to swill Starbucks don’t give a damn about health. But it is nice that those who seek to avoid animal products now have a choice. (I used to get so tired for having to pay $0.40 extra/cup for soy milk, just because I didn’t want to use “cow titty juice,” as we sometimes call it around here.) I do agree the marketing is repugnant.

  • Dietrich

    This is not out of the ordinary for commercial non-dairy “milks”– read the ingredients for any Almond, Soy, Rice, etc “milk” and the same emulsifier laden content appears. Across the board, boxed non-dairy milk is comprised of calcium carbonate or tricalcium phosphate, some form of gum (arabic, acacia, or gellan), some form of lecitihin (soy or sunflower), carageenan, and other texturizers, plus some miniscule amount of the nut-base itself. All in the name of mouth-feel for exactly this type of ‘creaminess’. Why would a commercial coconut milk be any different? This does not seem very surprising. Even in stores, the boxed coconut milk used as a dairy replacement is like this. The genuine article comes almost exclusively in cans for cooking…

  • KTOWN

    Ah, it must be nice to be the kind of person whose biggest issue is that Starbucks’ coconut milk has water and sugar in it… #firstworldproblems

    • Kevin Geary

      Oh, I see what you did there. You believe that we shouldn’t care about anything in our lives because there are children in Africa who don’t have clean water.

      I’d love for you to share some more of your dismissive, shaming, minimizing beliefs…

  • Cheryl

    Part of the problem is that the organic standards have been relaxed – at the behest of the huge corporations which own the organic brands – so that you will now find gums and fillers even in certified organic products, much less conventional items like “coconut milk” and “almond milk.” Thanks to corporate priorities – money – sales = shelf life, fillers – you have to make it yourself if you want pure food. Shame on Starbucks for their false claims. Add to that the fact that they don’t offer recycling, and they don’t brew organic fair-trade coffee, I only go there if I’m in a pinch.

  • Amy

    Vitamin D2 has been shown to be just as beneficial as vitamin D3. Maybe you should consult a Regustered Dietitian to review your blog for accuracy. Also saying Saturated fats are healthy is inaccurate. Unsaturated fats are heart healthy, as Saturated fats lead to high cholesterol and heart disease.

        • Kevin Geary

          Yes, your saturated fat data is about 20 years out of date and comes from a debunked study linking saturated fat with heart disease >> http://rawfoodsos.com/2011/12/22/the-truth-about-ancel-keys-weve-all-got-it-wrong/

          This is a myth that is still widespread thanks to the fact that the USDA adopted it…the same USDA that was caught completely manipulating the food pyramid to benefit their Big Agriculture contributers >> http://www.whale.to/a/light.html and if you want to go REALLY in depth >> http://www.amazon.com/Death-Food-Pyramid-Politics-Interests/dp/0984755128

          Your Vitamin D data is about 70 years out of date >> http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/84/4/694.full

          “The case that vitamin D2 should no longer be considered equivalent to vitamin D3 is based on differences in their efficacy at raising serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D, diminished binding of vitamin D2 metabolites to vitamin D binding protein in plasma, and a nonphysiologic metabolism and shorter shelf life of vitamin D2. Vitamin D2, or ergocalciferol, should not be regarded as a nutrient suitable for supplementation or fortification.”

          Sorry Charlie…I do my homework. Maybe it’s you who needs to be more inquisitive and less arrogant…

          • Amy

            The Mayo Clinic is state of the art, so it’s funny you’re questioning their research. Maybe you should review your rat studies, meta-analysis, and Internet commentary and decide if you really know what you’re talking about. Good luck, and please stop giving false nutrition information to the public.

            P.S. I am a Registered Dietitian and have a Bachelor’s degree in Dietetics. I did my internship at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and was hired on staff full time. If you have any nutrition questions, you can always consult a Registered Dietitian.

            ๐Ÿ™‚ Amy RD, CNSC ( Certified Nutrition Support Dietitian)

          • Kevin Geary

            Okay, now I have a MAJOR problem with you.

            I posted well-respected scientific research and you simply dismissed it with an appeal to your original links, which I’ve shown to be both out of date and manipulated.

            I’m sure you they taught you in school (or maybe not), that “The Mayo Clinic is state of the art…” is not an argument, nor is it research, nor is it proof.

            This bothers me greatly, because it shows that you have a complete unwillingness to objectively look at research that is presented to you, which means that you are misguiding those you work with.

            I understand you paid dearly for your education, which is why you’re hell bent on protecting it. I’ve interviewed more than a dozen RDs on my podcast. Do you know what they all tell me? They had to sit through their bullshit education to get the credentials and then start showing people the TRUTH about nutrition, which is very different from what they were “taught.”

            What’s [mostly] taught in schools is bought and paid for by Big Pharma and Big Agriculture.

            I’d HIGHLY suggest that you stop blindly falling back on your education and start looking at the research objectively and inquisitively. I’d HIGHLY suggest you stop being blindly dismissive of anyone with an opposing view, especially when they post clear research. Your clients deserve better from you.

  • Jason

    Well if they have to have additives to make it creamier etc and you don’t like what they are using but you didnt offer a replacement? What would you use? Just curious.

  • Nick Shelly

    Can you cite verifiable sources for this discrepancy of the coconut milk? This seems egregious if true, especially considering the press release from Starbucks.

  • Jeanie

    While I prefer limited ingredient items as well, I have to say that the “coconut milk” ingredients in Starbucks blend are essentially the same as those found in many of the commonly found supermarket coconut milks (Silk, Almondbreeze, Blue Diamond, So Delicious, etc.) I am certain that they have simply gone into an agreement with one of these companies to supply their coconut milk.

    It is one reason why I have actually been pulling away from using as much coconut and almond milk as I used to. Most of the commercially available products should be more properly labeled as “coconut milk beverages” as opposed to traditional coconut milk (coconut, water only type blends). Unfortunately, many people think that nut milks should have the same mouth feel as dairy so a lot of additives are used to produce a similar consistency, in addition to adding calcium, etc.

    I think this is just another case of know what you are consuming. A lot of people have embraced the non dairy milk offerings for a variety of reasons but often are not aware of what they are actually consuming.

  • Andy

    Reality: most/all coffee places (both low and high quality) use the same garbage nut/coconut milks with all sorts of stuff in it. Ask to see the cartons they use to fill the pretty jugs, and you will see for yourself.

      • Chantelle Pinder

        Over generalization Kevin. Re-read the comment as you may have taken the comment personally.

        I believe the point is that a person could criticize every food morsel in the world for its unworthiness and therefore we should not eat it. Debating over this or that does not make someone happy… unless they are debating to “win” – the one who feels he/she won may feel happy, though fleeting the sensation would be.

    • Kevin Geary

      Do you have a source for the claim that milk contains pus and blood? Other than that, I usually recommend heavy whipping cream or half/half for people who can tolerate dairy.

  • Chantelle Pinder

    After seeing this article, I started looking at the ingredients of other coconut milk offerings and find many of them contain similar if not the same ingredient list as the Starbucks list presented in this article. I find it odd that Starbucks was targeted for this and not the coconut milk industry itself as Starbucks is hardly the instigator nor aggressor in how coconut milk is produced.

  • Erika

    You DO realise, however, that even soy has the similar ingredients? that if Starbucks happen to get REAL coconut milk the latte itself will be about $1.50 to $2 more? I do like the fact they don’t bring in any nut milk to rid away the high allergen risk, but those who are intolerant to milk, it’s not the worst thing, it’s not great, it’s decent. I admit, it tastes good cold, but otherwise, if people want the really thick, creamy, real coconut milk, let’s see you fork over $8 for a grande coconut latte.

    • Kevin Geary

      Soy is unhealthy in itself. But again, this isn’t an ingredient comparison contest. I’m fully aware of what others brands are doing. If you read the paragraph in italics, it’ll offer you more context for why I felt this was important.

  • Art

    Thanks for the informative piece. Has anyone figured out how many grams of sugar are in a serving of the “coconut” milk? Thanks!

  • pamela reed

    Just tried the Starbucks coconut milk with plain coffee. The instant reaction it induced caused me to wonder if it was reallycoconut milk. This is a serious breach of trust and very dangerous to those of us with severe corn alergies.

  • so completely furious

    i just tried it for the first time today. three sips in i couldn’t shake the fact that my cappuccino tasted way too sweet even though i didn’t add any sugar. so i googled it and came across your post – thanks for doing the investigative work; wish i had looked into it before i placed my order. i gave up all refined sugars, dairy & processed foods three months ago & would never have ordered this had i known. this stuff is pure junk. what an infuriating reason to break a three month clean eating streak.

  • Annie

    Thank you for this article. I will pass the info to my daughter who thought she was being healthy (and introduced me to coconut milk lattes yesterday). I wondered why I liked the taste so much and why it was so inexpensive. But, the biggest reason for me to research this today? The constant trips to the bathroom!!! Never again. My stomach is a mess. Thanks again for the research you did, Annie

  • Heather

    Shame on you Starbucks. I buy from you less and less. Everything you have is packed with sugar. Just take a look at your customer base!!!

  • Beth

    Wish I had googled this BEFORE ordering my coffee with “coconut milk” to try it! Thought the taste was off, so I googled the product and found this article. Definitely frustrating!

  • sarah

    I cannot find a coconut milk that is just water and coconut. The one I found online was $50 for 4 cans and I’m sorry but I can’t justify paying that amount. Anyone out there have a brand they can suggest and where to find it at a reasonable price?

  • Allison

    I usually make my own lattes at home, with coconut milk. Today I was in a rush and stopped at Starbucks for my morning latte since they now serve coconut milk. One sip and I knew this was not normal. This is by far, the worst latte I have ever had. I can just taste the chemicals. Never again!

  • Karen welch

    I asked a Starbucks Batista what kind of coconut milk they used and she had no clue and was too busy to check. So I googled and found this article. After reading this information I will never order their coconut milk again and my coconut laden chai tea went down the drain!

    Carageenan and added sugar are ingredients I banned from my nondairy milks a long time ago. Too bad Starbucks is not as health-wise as they claim to be!

  • Gabriel

    After reading about this I was a little peterbed that I had been “had”. I’m an almond milk drinker but I was excited to have at least some other option aside from dairy and soy at Starbucks. So after reading all the hype out there about Starbucks not having “real” coconut milk and adding ingredients like Carageenan, I did a quick search to find out what the typical coconut milk you’d buy in the grocery store contains. But all I could fine was more of the same ingredients.
    Can you share what type of coconut milk you have found that just contains coconut milk and water? I might give it a try, if it exists.

    Thanks!

  • Alexis

    Thanks so much for this post! I had a customer at my small coffee stand tell me that our coconut milk drinks were not as good as Starbucks. I was surprised since I always hear the opposit about all our drinks. So I set out to see what we could do better. And after reading this I’m sticking with what we have because it is much more natural than Starbucks.

  • Mc Gregor

    Plus, the presence of corn (and at least maltodextrin as well) indicates Starbuck’s willingness/eagerness to keep using GMO ingredients.
    #StarbucksFail

  • Karen

    I’m testing out an extremely limited autoimmune diet to help combat Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and food allergy symptoms. I’m only about seven weeks in, and am still learning. Coconut projects (flour, oil, etc.) are a large percentage of my diet since I have given up dairy, grains, nuts, and eggs, and I was excited to try Starbucks coconut milk in a coffee (I have stopped drinking coffee, but figured ‘this one time…’)

    I only had a few sips to test it, but about an hour later, the familiar muscle burning sensation and digestive issues that were about 70% better have returned ๐Ÿ™

    I know it’s my own fault for being so naรฏve to think it would be actual coconut milk, but I never would have thought there are SO MANY additives. I’m hoping the inflammation and fatigue will only last for a couple of days.

    Thanks for posting this!

  • debby doucette

    I knew it!! I was on vacation in Vegas and when I asked if the Starbucks in Aria had almond milk (my fist choice at home but only unsweetened), and they offered soy or coconut. I use coconut oil all the time at home, but had never tried coconut milk in my coffee so I thought it would be nice to try. I don’t eat sugar and found my Late a bit sweet so next day I asked them if their coconut milk was plain or sweetened and they told me it was real coconut milk, but would not show me the ingredients on the package, just the front which does not say “sweetened” that I could see.
    No wonder I gained 5 lbs on my vacation and had sugar withdrawal when I got home!!! Damn you again Starbucks! (their Opra Chai tea is suspiciously sweet too).

  • Lin

    I’ve gotten some good tips from this site in the past, but this article has finally done it for me.

    Look, I’m not saying that Starbucks is right or that you should go there. They ARE fast food after all. I do think it’s funny that people are surprised and outraged that a fast food chain didn’t opt for an all natural food and did the capitalist thing by marketing it to sound better than it is.

    But I’m well past over the smug sense of superiority that you and the other users of this site have. Eating 100% real food is a very expensive undertaking that not everyone can do. Some relatives of mine made the switch to a clean and paleo diet about a year ago and when I went to them for advice they were happy that I was interested in doing it….and then flat-out told me not to. Why? Because their grocery bill more than doubled despite the fact that they’re actually eating less food overall now. Each one of them makes easily three times what I do (since I’m a year out of college and working a predictably low paying job), so they advised me against it knowing I wouldn’t be able to afford it.

    So no, not all consumers who don’t eat clean/real are ignorant or apathetic. A lot of us know and care that we’re eating a lot of crap, but we’re too poor to spend twice as much on organic/local/ethically sourced foods. I can get pesticide ridden produce and hormone fed meat at my grocery store and keep my bill to under $50/week so that’s what I have to do to survive.

    Another thing is that the whole rally against all chemicals and the “don’t eat what you can’t pronounce” idea is complete and utter bull. Anyone with a basic understanding of chemistry can tell you that. Obviously not all chemicals are good or safe for humans, but most of what’s in food isn’t actually bad either.

    I could break down the chemical ingredients of a raw coconut without telling you what it was and 90% of the users on this site would be absolutely disgusted because it’s full of those super scary unpronounceable chemicals. Oh NO! Everything in the natural world is made up of chemical compounds because that’s how organic chemistry works! WOW! Isn’t that neato?

    So yeah. Like I said this site has been helpful to me in the past, but I could do without the snide remarks and complete ignorance of basic chemistry.

    • Kevin Geary

      You obviously haven’t read as much on this site as you claim to if you think we advocate for 100% “clean eating.” For one, we never even use the term clean eating and don’t advocate for the use of that term. We also advocate for a bank account philosophy for anti-perfectionism. We also teach people how to succeed on ALL budgets and note that you don’t have to buy the highest quality, most expensive food available to be successful.

      I also haven’t written any articles about not eating what you can’t pronounce. I’ve pointed out SPECIFIC ingredients and have shown why they are destructive.

      So yeah, you haven’t actually read what we teach. You’re completely out of line.

  • Jennifer

    I was SO disappointed in Starbucks when I learned their “dairy alternatives” are actually worse for me than the dairy was! I have a history of Sarcoidosis of the lungs, and have recently given up all sugar and dairy as part of an anti-inflammation diet. I had switched to soy milk in my Starbucks drinks because soy is a natural anti-inflammatory. However, I didn’t realize that the Starbucks version of soy milk had so much added sugar! No wonder my inflammation response has not diminished! Then, I thought I would try their coconut milk, until I read this article. Thank you for opening my eyes that in order to adhere to my new diet, I must stay away from Starbucks completely (unless I can find a way to stomach plain black brewed coffee, in which case I have plenty of other, better alternatives!).

  • Jasmine

    Hi Kevin,
    I got a coconut milk based SB beverage this morning. I like the taste so much that I decided to look it up a DIY recipe since they’re expensive. A good note for you, when I looked up ” Starbucks coconut milk frap recipe” you’re article came up. Now, I have read through about half of the comments from the page and get what others are saying. I live in the greater Seattle area and let me tell ya, I like my coffee and unfortunately not black coffee. I hear people saying its impractical to make coconut milk that’s consistency fits all SB beverages, hence all the additives. But if anyone has had success with a DIY recipe to make a type of creamy coconut milk-like recipe to put in coffee, I would appreciate a quick post with a link or instructions.
    However, the main argument of this article about the misrepresentation (5% coconut milk on something labeled Coconut Milk is misrepresentation) is an issue that needs to create an effective law, parameter to corporations when labeling an item. The fact that we all know that big food/beverage corps do misleading marketing, is sad but we DO NOT have to accept it. As this was not the point of this article to change things, I believe it should be a reaction of many of you who, you would think, would be tired of being mislead, lied, etc. by corporations.
    And for those who think sugar is a captain obvious at SB. Sugar is a problem in the US, for heaven’s sake we put in in bread! Literally, it doesn’t take much looking to understand the vicious circle between the corporations of food and drug and medicine.
    Kevin, I appreciate your thoroughness and attention toward all opinions. I would like to see more articles about clarity of mass corporation ingredients and what those ingredients do to the body, like you’ve done here with Starbucks.

    Thanks

  • Dougalsgirl

    Like quite a lot of people who have left feedback, I found your article whilst investigating the new coconut latte that has appeared on the menu board at my most frequented Starbucks.

    I live in the UK, and they’ve just launched it this week alongside the autumn PSL.

    I was really most interested in the calorie content, as I’m trying very hard currently to be careful about what I’m eating to lose some serious weight. The Google search has led me straight to this article, and although I haven’t seen what the UK coconut milk blend ingredients as (and I’m sure they will be different as the UK and U.S. seem to have wildly different ideas of what additives are bad for you) I didn’t even consider that they would have added sugar to it! If I want sugar in my coffee, it’s right there on the side counter. I hate how it’s being veiled as an alternative choice that could fit in with diet philosophies.

    Thank you for lifting me out of the fog! I will definitely not be trying it now. My two skimmed milk lattes a week will do just fine!

    P.S. I’m not quite ready for the truth about PSL’s yet, and just how much sugar they pack in that… I’ll google that another day!

  • Esther

    SO glad you posted this! The last couple of times I ordered their new Cold Brew with coconut milk and each time I got completely sick to my stomach. Thought maybe it was the coffee, but realized it’s because the coconut milk has Carrageenan in it, which I’m allergic to. #Fail Starbucks…Fail.

  • Maggie

    So frustrating! Just discovered that Starbucks offered coconut milk…yay! Bought my first coconut milk latte today, my bullshit meter went off as well. Why why why do they have to sweeten everything? They don’t even offer a soy milk that isn’t sickeningly sweet vanilla garbage. I guess for now I will go back to black…or carrying little containers of coconut milk in my purse.

    Thanks for the research and article. It’s hard to do right by our bodies with all the phony offerings around town.

Comments are closed.

Get Our #1 Guide For Fixing the Critical Mistakes That Make Getting a Body & Life You Love Impossible...

This is a free download. Enter your details below and we'll send a download link to your email address immediately....
SEND ME THE GUIDE

Never Miss a Rebooted Body Podcast Episode...

SEND ME EPISODES 
FREE DOWNLOAD
Enter your details below and we'll email you a direct download link.

SEND ME THE GUIDE
Your information will never be shared
FREE DOWNLOAD
Enter your details below and we'll email you a direct download link.

SEND ME THE GUIDE
Your information will never be shared
GET THE GUIDE...
Enter your details below and we'll email you a direct download link.

SEND ME THE GUIDE
YOUR INFORMATION WILL NEVER BE SHARED. NO SPAM.
FREE MASTER CLASS REGISTRATION
RESERVE YOUR SPOT
Enter your details below and we'll reserve your seat for Wednesday, October 5th at 9pm Eastern.
RESERVE MY SPOT (FREE)
Only 100 spots available. There will NOT be a recording of this class--you must attend live.
WELCOME TO REBOOTED BODY
It's Time to Finally Get a Body & Life You Love...
Learn how to reach all of your fat loss, fitness, and health goals without rules, restriction, shame, or guilt...
YES, SHOW ME!
Give it a try, you can unsubscribe anytime.
DONT LEAVE WITHOUT JOINING THE TRIBE!
It's Time to Finally Get a Body & Life You Love...
Learn how to reach all of your fat loss, fitness, and health goals without rules, restriction, shame, or guilt...
YES, SHOW ME!
Give it a try, you can unsubscribe anytime.

NEW! Find Out How Badly You've Been Programmed By the Dieting Industry...

Our FREE "Dieting Dogma" Assessment will show you all the ways bad advice has been killing your success for years and will give you clear guidance on how to "decode the dogma."
START MY EVALUATION
It's fast, free, and extremely powerful.
Click Me

Starbucks Debuts Coconut Milk That Isn't Coconut Milk