Starbucks has jumped bean-first into the plant-based scene in recent years, with a growing menu of options like the Impossible Breakfast Sandwich and oat milk lattes. Now, Restaurant Business reports that the coffee giant tested out a whole new slew of plant-based recipes at an undisclosed location in Seattle.
Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson told Restaurant Business that the site’s menu was 100% plant-based, serving as a sort of test kitchen for the company’s new vegan-friendly creations. “We use that as sort of a test area when we innovate, create things here in our support center,” he said. “The No. 1 trend that I would highlight here is just the consumer shift and consumer preferences around plant-based.”
The new concept reflects an ongoing shift in the Starbucks business model—a shift that began way back in the late 1990s with the addition of soy milk. It took a few decades for Starbucks to kick the plant-based options into high gear; the chain didn’t offer coconut milk until 2015, with almond milk following the next year. But in 2020, the company’s slate of non-dairy drinks increased significantly (the Honey Almondmilk Flat White, for example). Finally, after rival Dunkin’ became the first chain to introduce a plant-based breakfast sandwich, Starbucks rolled out the Impossible Breakfast Sandwich and then added oat milk to Starbucks menus nationwide.
To be clear, Starbucks isn’t actually opening an entirely plant-based concept. However, we might see some new plant-based creations from the chain soon. Vegan croissants, perhaps? A line of pea protein smoothies? Whatever Starbucks does next, you know we’ll be trudging out into the Chicago winter to test it out.