Starbucks won’t be tardy to the plant-based party

Starbucks Impossible Breakfast Sandwich
Image: Starbucks

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.

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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.

Staff writer @ The Takeout, joke writer elsewhere. Wrangling dogs and pork shoulder in Chicago.

DISCUSSION

Now, Restaurant Business reports that the coffee giant is testing out an entirely plant-based location in Seattle.”

Well, THAT narrows it down!

I tried to figure out which location out of Starbucks’ approximately 40,000 within the Seattle city limits it was, and even the Internet doesn’t seem to know (Thrillist asked its readers the same question last month and didn’t get an answer.)