Starbucks Says So Long to Complimentary Soy Milk

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Alisa Fleming ~ At first, soy milk, rice milk, and sometimes even almond milk could be found on a whim at Starbucks across the country. My husband would request a shot, and the barrista would happily pour a little in, no questions asked. Then one visit to a local Starbucks turned my husband’s loyalty upside down – that little shot, would now cost him 50 cents extra, each and every time. It was still free for Starbucks Rewards Gold Card holders (frequent caffeine flyers), but that, my dear lactose intolerant, milk allergic, vegan, and otherwise dairy-free friends, is all coming to an end. At Starbucks soy milk will now cost extra for everyone.

The Starbucks announcement is ablaze with angry customers, some who only got the card for that free Starbucks soy milk perk (please, do go add your 2 cents in the comments here – Starbucks should hear from once loyal customers)! Starbucks has released the benefits of their new and “improved” rewards program, which promises to be more digital, but at the expense of your complimentary soy milk and syrups.

New Starbucks Rewards Program - Starbucks Soy Milk no longer Free

I realize that some of you are not soy consumers, but the mere availability of a dairy-free option on par with milk (cost-wise) was a huge step forward. Not to mention, have you seen the price of dairy lately? Starbucks reps would be hard-pressed to say that soy milk expenses are breaking the bank.

You can share your thoughts on the Starbucks soy milk uproar on their announcement page or tweet your concerns to @Starbucks.

About Author

Alisa is the founder of GoDairyFree.org, Senior Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

22 Comments

  1. Pingback: Guide to Dairy Free Starbucks Beverages and Food

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  3. If you don’t like the Starbucks Rewards changes, in which loyal customers must now pay extra for soy milk/nondairy drinks and syrups (both benefits now taken away), PLEASE post your suggestion that Starbucks give back these benefits:

    @ My Starbucks Idea
    mystarbucksidea.force.com

    It must be posted as an “idea,” not a complaint. Please let your voices be heard.

    Be forewarned, there is a little hardcore group of bullying posters there who will “vote down,” mock, harass, insult, and attack *anyone* who posts anything about 1)bringing back the free soy milk benefit or 2)offering any nondairy milks (almond, coconut, rice, etc) or 3)asking Starbucks to offer more vegetarian and vegan friendly, cruelty-free menu items.

  4. I don’t understand why Starbucks can’t offer almond or coconut milk as other options. I would go there a lot more if they had dairy free options other than soy!

  5. I was also upset when I first noticed this. However, as a gold card member, you get 1 free drink for every 12, not every 15, as before, so I think it evens out. That is good to know that Soy under 4 oz is free. I wish they would offer rice or almond milk, though 🙁

    • Catherine,
      Please do the math. If a lactose intolerant or vegan asks for soy milk in their blended beverage — a SUBSTITUTION not an extra — they’re paying 12 x $.55 = $6.60 extra for that “free” drink. Meanwhile, the person who drinks dairy doesn’t pay extra for their drink, so they get the full value of the frequent purchase reward. I can’t believe Starbuck’s corporation is trying to put this spin on removing soy milk as a reward – I’ve heard it repeated at a couple Starbuck’s, and now you, so apparently it’s the “company line.” Sounds like a bunch of you-know-what to me.

      Bottom line is that Starbuck’s is upsetting a lot of people. Do you know that approximately 70% of all American adults are lactose-intolerant to some degree? I don’t have any figures on vegans. Either way, Starbuck’s is not showing sensitivity or smart business sense, in my opinion. You can go to change.org and sign a petition to have them reverse their new policy; maybe if enough people sign, and if their sales drop, then they’ll listen.

  6. It’s such a bummer – my tall pumpkin spice latte with so is over $4! I do wish they would offer almond milk. I’ve never seen it in any coffee shop.

    • Sarah Corrigan on

      Apparently the pumpkin spice syrup contains dairy!!! I was glad the barista told me when I ordered it, but not all of the staff knew about it! Xx

  7. Hello,

    Being a Vegan at Starbucks is difficult to say the least. Quite a few times I had discussion with the baristas there when they would charge for soy milk. I called Starbucks corporate and found that if it is under 4oz then there should not be a charge. The cashier is trying to account for the soy milk usage and is not always aware that there is a button for soy at no charge. Many times this is a new person learning the job who is not fully aware. You may want to contact Starbucks yourself to confirm tha soy milk under 4 oz is free, as it replaces the dairy that is free on the condiment bar.

  8. Not that I care, never liked Starbucks. You have to pay for dairy free alternatives everywhere and that makes me mad. Many place charge up to 1.50! I know it is not that expensive, I buy it for myself everyday. To heck with it I’ll make my own for a fraction of the cost.

  9. As someone with dairy and soy intolerance, I had to resort to drinking my Americanos black a while ago, so this doesn’t specifically impact me, but I will say I highly recommend switching to a locally owned coffe shop vs. Starbucks anyway. You avoid lots of these little extra charges. And you support local business.

  10. Sherry belardinelli on

    Come on Starbucks. You buy in bulk when you buy milk, soymilk etc! I believe that is discrimination! If you do this you will certainly loose me as a customer! I think with your over inflated prices your still coming out waaaayyyyy ahead!

  11. Pingback: Starbucks Loyalty Program Makeover – October 16th – All Things Social

  12. This is ridiculous. As a gold member I didn’t have to pay for my soymilk which is cheaper than dairy and syrup which I only take one pump of for my latte. I save 1.10 every visit. Now my drink will be $7 every visit – that’s a bit much now. $5.90 was pushing it.. I’m very dissapointed with Starbucks now..

  13. Hi Alisa,
    Just want to say that I love your site and books! It has been very helpful to me as I struggle through my new found dairy allergy!
    This whole Starbucks thing is a travesty… especially when, I’ve found, alternatives like almond milk last much longer than regular milk, and is cheaper to buy! If it was 10 cents extra, fine, but 50 cents is excessive.
    For people living with a dairy allergy, such as myself, it’s not a choice to have a severe reaction… and this feels like I am being fined for having this allergy! Not happy with Starbucks and will be avoiding it from now on… though I have been a loyal customer.
    My friend (a Starbucks “Gold” card member) has also been avoiding Starbucks as she buys coffee at least twice a day and has recently found that she has a dairy intolerance.

  14. Just a couple of errors I found in your article:

    Starbucks has only ever offered soy milk. They have used several different brands before, but it was always only soy.

    Starbucks’ official policy on using milk, half-and-half, heavy cream, soy, etc. as a condiment is this: any amount of dairy/soy used in a beverage up to 4 ounces is free. So unless your husband was getting more than half a cup of soy added to one of his drinks, it should always be free, no matter what. Some baristas (one r, by the way) don’t know this and assume they are to charge no matter what, but this is the official policy. It isn’t rude to correct them if they’re trying to enforce a policy that doesn’t exist.

    “It was still free for Starbucks Rewards Gold Card holders (frequent caffeine flyers), but that, my dear lactose intolerant, milk allergic, vegan, and otherwise dairy-free friends, is all coming to an end. At Starbucks soy milk will now cost extra for everyone.”

    Again, only in amounts larger than 4 ounces!

    • Mr Who, I’ll have to correct your errors now, as not everyone lives in your specific world, and I do not publish false information. I also think we have a pretty clear idea of OUR experiences with Starbucks over the years. I’m sorry that they aren’t exactly the same as yours, but there are thousands of Starbucks across the country.

      My husband has gotten almond milk and rice milk at various Starbucks locations. What they carry, varies depending on the location. We are on the West Coast, and at many locations they even had a branded almond milk.

      He has been to three locations where they now charge everyone for ANY soymilk at all. No, he does not get 4 ounces, just a quick splash like most who add creamer. But they charge for it. He has emailed corporate about it, and they had said that it was extra unless you were a Gold Card holder – which is now gone also.

      If you are still getting less than 4 ounces free at your local Starbucks, then consider yourself lucky and don’t travel out of your area!

  15. My local Starbucks has always charge extra for soymilk, but I guess that might have something to do with being inside a grocery store and because all the coffee shops charge extra.

  16. I have always had to pay extra for soy milk there. That’s part of the reason I don’t like them. I used to have a trick – I’d ask for the soy at the counter after paying. Kind of like “oops, I didn’t realize you silly people wouldn’t have it out on the table by all the other coffee accoutrements.” Clearly , that should be the case. Says me.

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