Starbucks offers a range of dairy-free beverage options for customers with dietary restrictions or preferences. One popular drink that customers often inquire about is whether Starbucks has a dairy-free hot chocolate option. The quick answer is yes, Starbucks does offer dairy-free hot chocolate beverages.
The Basics of Starbucks’ Dairy-Free Hot Chocolate
Starbucks has a few different ways to order a dairy-free hot chocolate depending on your specific dietary needs:
- Ask for a kids’ hot chocolate made with soy milk instead of 2% milk
- Order an in-store “Hot Chocolate” and request it be made with almond milk or coconut milk instead of 2% milk
- Order a steamer made with mocha sauce, water, and your choice of dairy-free milk
The standard hot chocolate recipe Starbucks uses contains milk. However, by substituting one of Starbucks’ dairy-free milk options like soy milk, almond milk, or coconut milk, you can enjoy a dairy-free hot chocolate beverage.
Some key points about ordering dairy-free hot chocolate from Starbucks:
- Not all stores carry dairy-free milks, so check with your local shop
- There may be an upcharge for alternative milks
- Let the barista know you need a dairy-free option
- The kids’ hot chocolate contains the least amount of upcharges for substitutions
Does Starbucks Have Official Dairy-Free Hot Chocolate Beverages?
While Starbucks allows you to customize standard menu items to be dairy-free, they do not have an official dairy-free hot chocolate beverage item. The kids’ hot chocolate and in-store “Hot Chocolate” are both made with 2% milk by standard recipe.
Starbucks does not market a dedicated dairy-free hot chocolate beverage option or list it on their official menu boards. However, customers have come to learn that they can order customized dairy-free versions of standard hot chocolate items.
Why Doesn’t Starbucks Have an Official Dairy-Free Hot Chocolate?
Starbucks likely does not have an official dairy-free hot chocolate item for a few key reasons:
- The core Starbucks menu and recipes rely on using dairy-based milk and ingredients
- Developing an entirely new dairy-free hot chocolate recipe is time-consuming and costly
- Since customization allows for dairy-free options already, a separate menu item may not have been necessary from Starbucks’ perspective
The customizable approach allows Starbucks to meet customers’ dairy-free needs without having to change their core hot chocolate recipe that contains milk and invest resources into a new proprietary dairy-free version.
What Are the Dairy-Free Milk Options at Starbucks?
If you wish to order a customized dairy-free hot chocolate at Starbucks, the main milk options include:
- Soy milk – Made from soybeans, naturally lactose-free and vegan
- Almond milk – Made from almonds, naturally lactose-free and vegan
- Coconut milk – Made from coconuts, naturally lactose-free and vegan
- Oat milk – Made from oats, naturally lactose-free and vegan (only available seasonally)
These dairy-free milk options allow customers to enjoy Starbucks hot chocolate beverages regardless of dietary restrictions relating to dairy, lactose, milk allergies, or vegan preferences.
Keep in mind that availability of nondairy milks can vary by location. Larger Starbucks stores tend to carry more variety and inventory of alternative milks.
How to Order a Dairy-Free Hot Chocolate at Starbucks
Ordering a dairy-free hot chocolate beverage at Starbucks is easy, just follow these steps:
- Decide if you want the kids’ hot chocolate or the standard in-store “Hot Chocolate” item as the base
- Choose your preferred dairy-free milk – soy, almond, or coconut are available year-round
- Alert the barista that you need a dairy-free milk option and specify which one
- For best results, politely confirm they are using dairy-free milk before they start making your beverage
- Enjoy your dairy-free hot chocolate! Add any other customizations like whipped cream, flavored syrups, or toppings as desired
The baristas are typically very accommodating of custom beverage orders at Starbucks. Don’t be afraid to kindly ask them to make sure your hot chocolate gets made with the dairy-free milk to suit your dietary needs.
Tips for Ordering a Dairy-Free Hot Chocolate
Use these helpful tips for a smooth experience ordering a dairy-free hot chocolate at Starbucks:
- Check if the store has your preferred dairy-free milk in stock and available
- Go during off-peak hours if possible to allow more time for custom orders
- Repeat your order back to confirm the barista understands it is dairy-free
- Thank the barista for their help in accommodating your custom order
- Order the kids’ hot chocolate to minimize upcharges since it is the smallest size
- You can customize and add your own toppings like cinnamon or chocolate shavings
Being polite, patient, and clearly communicating your order to the baristas goes a long way. They want to get your beverage made correctly and will work with you to accommodate your dairy-free needs.
How Much Does a Dairy-Free Hot Chocolate Cost at Starbucks?
Pricing for a customized dairy-free hot chocolate from Starbucks will depend on a few factors:
- Size of the hot chocolate – kids’ size vs regular size
- Type of dairy-free milk you choose
- Whether you add any extra toppings or customizations
- Your location, taxes, and menu pricing
A kids’ size hot chocolate with dairy-free milk may cost between $2-$3 before taxes depending on location. A regular size modified with dairy-free milk may cost between $3-$5 before taxes.
Expect to pay roughly $0.50-$1 extra to substitute the dairy-free milk compared to regular milk. Added toppings will increase the total as well.
Does Dairy-Free Cost More at Starbucks?
Yes, typically modifying a Starbucks beverage to be dairy-free costs a little bit extra. Here’s why you’ll pay more for dairy-free milk options:
- Non-dairy milks are more expensive for Starbucks to purchase vs regular dairy milk
- Charging a bit more helps Starbucks offset the higher ingredient costs
- Making beverages dairy-free requires extra time and customization from the baristas
- The upcharge helps account for the extra labor required
The upcharge is typically small, around $0.50 extra compared to regular dairy milk. Many customers feel this nominal fee is reasonable for being able to customize their drinks to fit their diet.
Does Starbucks Have Any Allergy Information on Their Hot Chocolate?
Yes, Starbucks does provide some allergy and nutritional information about their standard hot chocolate offerings:
- Their in-store “Hot Chocolate” contains milk, sugar, chocolate syrup, water, and salt
- The kids’ hot chocolate contains 2% milk, mocha sauce (sugar, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, milk), vanilla syrup, water, sea salt
- Neither standard version is gluten-free as they contain trace amounts of wheat
- Starbucks cannot guarantee dairy-free or gluten exposure during preparation
Always inform your barista about any food allergies so they can take precautions to minimize cross-contact during preparation. Do not rely solely on menu information for allergen details.
Does Starbucks Offer Any Official Dairy-Free Drinks?
While there is no dedicated dairy-free hot chocolate beverage, Starbucks does offer some officially dairy-free drink options:
- Iced Shaken Espresso can be customized dairy-free with various milks and flavors
- Cold brew coffee can be ordered black or with dairy-free milk
- Iced teas unsweetened are dairy-free by default
- Refreshers come in dairy-free Very Berry Hibiscus, Strawberry Acai, and Mango Dragonfruit flavors
- Starbucks seasonal Blonde Roast Coconutmilk Latte is dairy-free
The wide range of customizations using dairy-free milks allows you to find multiple dairy-free choices at Starbucks beyond just hot chocolate. Always double check ingredients and preparation with the barista when ordering.
What About Vegan Hot Chocolate at Starbucks?
For customers looking for a vegan hot chocolate, Starbucks can accommodate that with a few adjustments:
- Order the kids’ hot chocolate or standard hot chocolate
- Ask for it to be made with dairy-free milk like soy, almond, or coconut
- Request no whipped cream on top
- Ask them to hold the caramel drizzle if applicable
- Specify no chocolate shavings so they don’t accidentally use milk chocolate
With those modifications, you can enjoy a delicious vegan-friendly hot chocolate at Starbucks. The key is opting for a dairy-free milk and no whipped cream or other non-vegan toppings.
Can You Order Dairy-Free Hot Chocolate With the Starbucks Mobile App?
Unfortunately, the Starbucks mobile app does not have a designated dairy-free hot chocolate item you can directly order. However, you can still use the app to customize a hot chocolate beverage:
- Add your base hot chocolate drink – either the kid’s size or standard size
- Choose your dairy-free milk option if it’s listed – may vary by location availability
- Enter any other customizations like no whipped cream in the notes for your order
- The barista will see your dairy-free notes when preparing your beverage
While not as direct as having a true dairy-free menu item, the Starbucks mobile ordering can still be useful. Just make sure to clearly add the dairy-free customizations in the notes.
Should You Inform Your Barista About Dairy Allergies or Intolerances?
Definitely! Let your barista know about any dairy allergies, intolerances, or sensitivities you may have when ordering. There are a few good reasons to be upfront:
- Allows them to take extra care to avoid cross-contamination
- They can ensure all equipment gets thoroughly cleaned and sanitized first
- Gives them a heads up your drink must be 100% dairy-free due to medical condition
- Shows them you have a serious dietary restriction for legal/liability purposes
Most baristas want to go above and beyond to make sure your beverage is safe and meets your needs. Don’t be shy about informing them if it is for allergy purposes.
Tips for Enjoying Your Dairy-Free Hot Chocolate
Here are some great ways to enjoy your customized dairy-free hot chocolate from Starbucks:
- Stir the hot chocolate well with the spoon or straw to combine the dairy-free milk
- Request an extra shot of mocha sauce if you want an extra chocolate kick
- Top with cinnamon or cocoa powder for extra flavor
- Warm up with the hot, comforting beverage during cold weather
- Pair your hot chocolate with a dairy-free bakery item
- Set up a mobile order ahead of time during your commute or lunch break
- Add your own dollop of dairy-free whipped topping once you get your drink
Savor your dairy-free hot chocolate just as you would any other – it’s delicious! Customizing at Starbucks gives you lots of possibilities to get creative.
Common Questions About Ordering Dairy-Free at Starbucks
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about getting dairy-free beverages at Starbucks:
What if my local Starbucks doesn’t have my non-dairy milk of choice available?
Politely ask if they can request and stock it regularly. Otherwise, go with your next dairy-free preference for now. You can also request they add it for future inventory orders.
Does dairy-free cost extra for customization at Starbucks?
Typically there is a small upcharge of around $0.50 to $1 for non-dairy milk substitutions at Starbucks.
How do I know if ingredients or prep surfaces are truly dairy-free?
Unfortunately, cross-contamination can happen. Do your best to inform staff of allergies, but know Starbucks cannot guarantee a 100% dairy-free environment.
Can I customize other drinks at Starbucks to be dairy-free too?
Yes! Many Starbucks coffee, espresso, tea, and other drinks can also be customized to be dairy-free with non-dairy milks and modifications.
Enjoy Your Starbucks Dairy-Free Hot Chocolate!
As you can see, you have multiple options for enjoying dairy-free hot chocolate from Starbucks. The key tips are:
- Choose the kids’ hot chocolate or standard hot chocolate as your base
- Substitute your preferred dairy-free milk like soy, almond, or coconut milk
- Modify any toppings to be dairy-free as needed for dietary needs
- Clearly communicate your order to the barista
- Relax and savor your customized creation
Don’t be afraid to politely ask the baristas to make any adjustments needed to accommodate your dairy-free diet. With the proper customizations, you can enjoy delicious hot chocolate from Starbucks just like anyone else!