Winter coffee flavors highlighted with milk alternatives

By Beth Newhart

- Last updated on GMT

"We love how the nuanced flavor you get with plant-based milks pairs with espresso, either hot or iced. It’s a new way to start your new year."
"We love how the nuanced flavor you get with plant-based milks pairs with espresso, either hot or iced. It’s a new way to start your new year."

Related tags Coffee Tea Starbucks Dunkin' donuts Peet's oat milk Almond milk

Winter flavors feature in US coffee chains at this time of year: with more oat, almond and coconut milk options than ever before.

The holiday and Christmas drinks have disappeared from store shelves and shop menus, making way for winter. Peppermint, spice and eggnog flavors are being replaced by honey, horchata and caramel at Starbucks, Dunkin’, Peet’s and the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.


Starbucks is kicking off the new decade with a few permanent additions to its US menu. The coffee giant has offered soymilk since 2004, coconutmilk since 2015 and almondmilk since 2016. It’s now expanding those plant-based ingredients by incorporating them into designated hot and cold drinks.


The new Almondmilk Honey Flat White and Coconutmilk Latte will be available nationally and year-round starting this week, while the Oatmilk Honey Latte is now testing regionally in the midwest.

Raegan Powell, product developer at Starbucks, said “We started with the coffee. Starbucks Blonde Espresso pairs well with the lighter texture of milk alternatives, especially almond milk. It’s a little bit nuttier, so it complements the almond-based milk.”

Oatmilk has been offered at Starbucks stores in Europe since January 2018 and at select Starbucks Reserve locations since March 2019. It’s now available as an ingredient at about 1,300 midwest locations.

“Customers are looking for more ways to personalize their beverages. We love how the nuanced flavor you get with plant-based milks pairs with espresso, either hot or iced. It’s a new way to start your new year,”​ Powell said.

Peet’s Coffee

This season, Peet’s Coffee is bringing back its annual Ethiopia Super Natural coffee. It is sourced from the Hambela region and features freshly harvested, ripe coffee cherry dried in the African sun. It’s available at cafe locations and bagged for retail for a limited time.


Doug Welsh, roastmaster at Peet's, said "This sun-dried coffee from Ethiopia tasted so other-worldly good, we dubbed it super natural. This spectacular single-origin brews a sweet and full cup that is memorably, fragrantly fruity, with a whiff of white flower, a concentrated dose of dried blueberry, and a shot of candied citron."

Also on tap this winter are new handcrafted drinks--the Oat Milk Horchata Latte, Vanilla Cinnamon Latte and Iced Vanilla Cinnamon Latte. They are available at Peet’s locations until early March.

Patrick Main, beverage innovator at Peet's, said "As far as dairy-free alternatives go, oat milk has transcended from a trend into a staple. With its creamy body and natural sweetness, it is a perfect ingredient base for espresso. We love how it blends with Madagascar vanilla and ground cinnamon to elevate our new Oat Milk Horchata Latte.”

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

Taking cues from the health and wellness-driven landscape every new year, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is introducing a Lightened collection of beverages. It’s an option for customers to modify their existing favorite beverages with fewer calories and less sugar.


The Lightened platform includes Coffee Bean’s Vanilla Latte, Mango Cold Brew Tea, Mocha Ice Blended drink and Matcha Iced Latte. They can be altered and made with nonfat milk, half-powder, less syrup or with no whipped cream.

Customers can also add Dulce de Leche syrup to Coffee Bean’s signature espresso drinks this winter, creating the Dulce de Leche Latte and the Dulce de Leche Ice Blended drink.

Nurit Raich, senior director of product innovation at Coffee Bean, said "Lightened allows our customers to enjoy many of the delicious flavors we offer, but with fewer calories and sugar. We created this after listening to our guests who wanted lighter options without sacrificing their favorite The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf drink."


Dunkin’s winter menu brings back its popular Girl Scout Cookie flavors for a third year, in partnership with the Girl Scouts of the USA. The Coconut Caramel and Thin Mints flavors coincide with Girl Scout Cookie season in the US.

dunkin GSA 2

They can be incorporated into Dunkin’s handcrafted espresso experience, and in the full lineup of hot and iced coffee, Cold Brew, frozen coffee and frozen chocolate.

Patty Healy, Dunkin’s senior director of integrated marketing, said “Girl Scout Cookie season is as welcomed and anticipated as the ball dropping on New Year’s Eve, and we’re thrilled to celebrate by bringing two smile-eliciting Girl Scout Cookie inspired flavors back to guests’ coffees in 2020.”

“We are proud to support Girl Scouts of the USA’s mission to build the next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders, as it’s the leadership and entrepreneurialism of small business owners that has fueled the success of our own brand, too.”

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