Starbucks' New Spring Drinks Are A Low-Key Success

The new lavender lattes have a subtle vibe for spring that totally works.

Spring has sprung... or at least for Starbucks it has. While some of us continue to yearn for warmer days ahead, Starbucks has debuted two new limited-time drinks meant to usher in springtime with a bit of flowery flavor: the Iced Lavender Cream Oatmilk Matcha and the Iced Lavender Oatmilk Latte.

I know what you're thinking. "Lavender? Florals for spring? Groundbreaking." Devil Wears Prada jokes aside, the coffee chain is really on to something with these.

According to the press release, the idea for this floral drink duo came from a beverage developer at Starbucks who took inspiration from a company trip to a lavender farm in Sequim, Washington, also known as the "Lavender Capital of North America."

"[Starbucks employees] have been asking us to introduce lavender, and it's a concept we've been working on for some time now," said Patrick Penny, a lead beverage developer for the brand. "We're hoping to have captured the feeling of springtime with this flavor."

We'll be the judge of that.

Iced Lavender Cream Oatmilk Matcha

Starbucks describes its new Iced Lavender Cream Oatmilk Matcha as "smooth and creamy matcha and oatmilk served over ice, and topped with lavender cream cold foam, which creates sweet and subtle floral notes." Though the drink is made primarily with oatmilk, the company notes that the cold foam does contain dairy.

Advertisement

Normally, I'd say that it's not enough for a flavor to be contained only in the topping, but in this case the cold foam topping is just right. As with any iced drink at Starbucks, part of the appeal is the visual. Seeing the contrast between the pastel purple cold foam and the green matcha is pretty cool, and when the foam melts down into the drink is when the magic happens.

This drink has made me more matcha-curious than I've ever been. The light sweetness of the lavender mixed with a tiny bit of earthiness from the matcha and creaminess from the oatmilk is exactly what you'd want from an iced drink on the first warm day of the year. Normally, taste testing multiple menu items can be daunting, and so I rarely finish everything—but I downed this drink in a matter of minutes.

Advertisement

Lavender Oatmilk Latte

Although the press release mainly touts this drink in its iced format, the Lavender Oatmilk Latte also comes as a hot beverage, and that's how I tasted it (it was pretty cold outside, to be fair). Unfortunately, it paled in comparison to its iced matcha sibling.

Advertisement

Starbucks describes this drink as one that "combines the soft, beautifully balanced flavors of Starbucks Blonde Espresso with creamy oatmilk, ice, and sweet and subtle floral notes of lavender." The latte was enjoyable, but when Starbucks (or any chain, for that matter) launches a new flavor, it's important the menu item delivers on that flavor specifically.

The lavender in this latte is definitely present, but you have to be hunting around for it; it's just barely detectable, and it took a few sips to even earn that description. I had to go back to the matcha beverage and then sip a little more from this latte to confirm if I could taste the lavender. That's because the lavender in this latte exists almost entirely as an aftertaste, which can't be what Starbucks was aiming for. I suspect the oatmilk is more to blame here than anything else.

Advertisement

Oatmilk definitely makes for a less bitter sip of coffee, but it also makes it hard for other flavors to shine through. And given that Starbucks is promoting the iced version so heavily, the underwhelming lavender taste would likely be even less apparent if I had tried the beverage over ice.

Regardless of the new latte's imbalance, what's most impressive about both seasonal drinks is that Starbucks managed to nail the subtle flavor it was intending to deliver. Prior seasonal offerings such as the Iced Gingerbread Oatmilk Chai Latte (which seemingly lacked a real infusion of gingerbread to begin with) or the new pumpkin spice items of its 2023 fall menu, failed to live up to the titles given to them. In this case, Starbucks has finally managed to nail a new flavor that tastes like what it promises, without being too syrupy, too sweet, or too artificial. Maybe florals for spring really are groundbreaking.

Recommended

Advertisement