Answer: Yes. Starbucks Vanilla Bean Powder is completely vegan. None of its contents are derived from animals. Also, unlike most flavor additives in sweetened products, it does not contain hidden dairy.
Starbucks is undeniably the biggest coffeehouse chain in the world. With its wide selection of specialty coffee, this multinational mega-corporation has attracted loyal customers in over 80 countries. Aside from to-go hot and cold beverages, Starbucks also sells the premium ingredients they use to create the house specials off their menu.
One of Starbucks’ most popular product items today is vanilla bean powder. It is the special ingredient present in the current lineup of Starbucks beverages. Those who wish to recreate the unique sweetness of their favorite Starbucks drink in their own house can do just that with Starbucks vanilla bean powder.
However, not everyone feels that this product is suitable for them. Many vegans are unsure if Starbucks Vanilla Bean Powder is made only of plant-based ingredients, even though Starbucks has already stated that their vanilla bean powder is vegan.
Despite the speculations, we can confirm that Starbucks Vanilla Bean Powder is vegan-friendly. In this article, we will discuss the source of every component of this product and the other vegan choices at Starbucks that you can also try.
Table of Contents
What Is Starbucks Vanilla Bean Powder Made Of?
Starbucks Vanilla Bean Powder is not too different from store-bought vanilla bean powder packs. Vanilla bean powder is the outcome of grinding the entire vanilla bean. Many people find it convenient to use the powdered form of vanilla beans rather than the whole bean because there is no need to manually extract the tiny seeds inside the bean and then crush them finely to get the extract.
With vanilla bean powder, you can add it directly to your mixture to bring out the classic vanilla flavor in your food or drink. You will notice small black flakes of crushed beans in the powder, showing that the entire bean was used to make this product. Half a teaspoon of vanilla bean powder should be equivalent to two inches of vanilla bean in your recipe.
Vanilla bean powder is the preferred ingredient by many people over the whole bean because it is relatively cheaper and much easier to use in cooking, baking, or fixing a drink. Keep in mind, though, that vanilla bean powder is different from plain vanilla powder. As mentioned, vanilla bean powder has speckles of crushed vanilla beans, while vanilla powder is mostly white. Hence, the latter is chosen by those who want to maintain a pure white color for their baked goods or beverages.
Another catch for vanilla bean powder is the amount of flavor and aroma that it can add to your recipe. While vanilla powder effectively introduces natural sweetness to any food or drink, vanilla bean powder packs the complete flavor of both vanilla bean pods and seeds.
As for Starbucks Vanilla Bean Powder, you can expect the same taste of vanilla goodness but with only slight modifications. This vanilla bean powder is suitable for drinks, whereas the usual vanilla powder is more compatible with cooking and baking.
Based on the available information about the product, Starbucks Vanilla Bean Powder is not only made of vanilla bean grounds. It contains other components to establish the taste and scent of vanilla. Of course, there is nothing more than natural vanilla itself, but in the case of commercially available vanilla powder, the purer extract is usually the more expensive.
Other manufacturers include a synthetic vanilla flavoring and other sweeteners to make the production less costly. The same is true with Starbucks vanilla bean powder. According to Starbucks, their vanilla bean powder contains natural flavor besides vanilla bean pieces. This so-called natural flavor can be partly synthesized in the lab to mimic the taste of the pure vanilla extract.
Why Is Starbucks Vanilla Bean Powder Vegan?
We already mentioned that Starbucks Vanilla Bean Powder and vanilla bean extracts have a natural flavor. The third known content of this product is sugar. If we look at the origin of each one of them, we can confirm that none of these components can be traced to an animal source. The vanilla bean pieces and sugar are plant derivatives. The natural flavor is mostly created in the lab, as said in the previous section.
Given these details, we can now be more confident declaring Starbucks Vanilla Bean Powder as a vegan. Although, some people can be very strict about their vegan practice. They don’t fully trust claims that a particular ingredient is derived from plants.
There is a valid reason to be a little more cautious if you’re a vegan. Taking vanilla bean powder as an example, some food corporations that make vanilla-flavored snacks and beverages use an alternative source that vegans would frown upon.
Surprisingly, the artificial vanilla flavor can also be obtained from an animal source. Specifically, the castor sac of a beaver is known to give off a strangely sweet fragrance similar to vanilla. This aroma is due to a chemical compound called castoreum, created by the mixture of castor gland secretions and the urine of a beaver.
We can attribute this to a beaver’s diet, comprised only of plant materials like bark and leaves. The castor sac can be extracted from beavers without killing them, but extraction can inflict unnecessary pain and suffering on the animals. It is a form of inhumane exploitation; that’s why any vanilla flavoring with castor sac must be shunned by vegans.
That being said, Starbucks is unlikely to use castor sacs or animal derivatives to give their vanilla bean powder a strong flavor. The Starbucks company has its own lab where dozens of their classic and special flavors are made. The natural flavor of the Starbucks vanilla bean powder is expected to be chemically formulated in the lab as well. A synthesized vanilla flavoring is called vanillin.
Perhaps the biggest reason Starbucks Vanilla Bean Powder is vegan-approved is the absence of dairy. Vegans would know that dairy easily sneaks into every food and beverage we encounter. Even if we are assured that a certain product is dairy-free, a little research would reveal later that dairy was actually used as a natural sweetener.
Starbucks Vanilla Bean Powder being dairy-free is a big deal since most food products in the market today rely on lactose for a little kick of sweetness.
Which Starbucks Drinks Contain Vanilla Bean Powder?
Starbucks has used vanilla bean powder in some of its specialty drinks since 2013. Some of the hot and cold beverages containing vanilla bean powder were already discontinued, but new ones also appeared.
Fortunately for vegans, special Starbucks beverages sprinkled with vanilla bean powder are usually suitable. You will not find any trace of dairy in them, just the purely plant-based creamers and sweeteners such as sugarcane syrup and soy milk.
Here are some of the popular Starbucks drinks that contain vanilla bean powder:
- Vanilla Bean Coconut Latte
- Iced Toasted Vanilla Oatmilk Shaken Espresso
- Vanilla Creme
- Cafe Vanilla Frappuccino
- Ice Blonde Vanilla Latte
Are All Starbucks Drinks With Vanilla Bean Powder Vegan?
At this point, we have already established that Starbucks Vanilla Bean Powder is good for vegans. You can now enjoy the taste of this product without guilt. However, you should still be careful in choosing the right vegan drink for you, even if it has vanilla bean powder.
What Ingredients Make A Starbucks Drink Non-Vegan?
While Starbucks Vanilla Bean Powder is absolutely vegan, other ingredients can break the vegan status of your favorite drink. You must look carefully if there are known non-vegan elements in the beverage you are about to choose.
PETA listed down all the non-vegan Starbucks ingredients that are usually present in a drink, along with vanilla bean powder.
- Whipped cream
- Pumpkin spice sauce
- Java chips (same chips used in Java Chip Frappuccino and Double Chocolaty Chip Crème Frappuccino)
- Protein powder (used in the smoothies)
- Caramel drizzle (in Caramel Macchiato and Caramel Frappuccino)
- Cinnamon dolce topping (with butter)
What Starbucks Drinks Are Non-Vegan?
Dairy is the number one enemy of vegans when they order at a Starbucks coffeehouse. Good thing that servers are aware that plenty of their avid customers are vegan. They will be happy to help you enjoy a tasty frappe or latte with strictly vegan ingredients.
Take note that most Starbucks drinks are potentially non-vegan because of the ingredients that come from an animal source. The biggest non-vegan contributor here is cow’s milk, which can come in many forms in your drink, such as whipped cream or sweetened condensed milk.
Nonetheless, you can ask the servers at Starbucks to provide your drink with only vegan ingredients. You can have coconut milk or soy milk as a vegan alternative.
Some drinks can’t be modified for vegans. For example, those cold beverages with white mocha, caramel brulee, and chai latte are already non-vegan. Aside from dairy, these elements also contain honey as an organic sweetener. Unfortunately, honey is another anti-vegan ingredient because of the exploitation of bee colonies.
Starbucks Vanilla Bean Powder is just one of the many products Starbucks uses to make your drinks special. You have the option to buy one from the store and enjoy drinking your coffee at home but with a superior vanilla taste.
Everyone can enjoy Starbucks Vanilla Bean Powder, particularly vegans who are often challenged in choosing the right drink.