Coconut gets a star turn this week. Starting Tuesday, Starbucks will offer an iced coconut milk mocha macchiato to its lineup of summer beverages.
This is the first time one of the coffee giant’s drinks has featured coconut milk — though the lactose-free, non-dairy option has been available by special request since February of last year, after a request on the company's MyStarbucksIdea website racked up 84,000 votes.
Coconut milk has been growing in popularity recently, with almost one in four Americans purchasing coconut milk regularly -- a number that rises to 36 percent among millennials.
Starbucks Gold loyalty program members had access to the new beverage as of Monday, and the company said it will be available in the U.S. and Canada starting July 12.
Early responses on social media were enthusiastic: “Apparently the first to order @Starbucks' new drink Iced Coconut Milk Mocha Macchiato at my usual Starbucks and it's fantastic,” one Twitter user wrote.
The choice to roll out a coconut drink in the summertime was deliberate. “It’s lighter in body than regular milk, and can be a little more refreshing," Starbucks senior product developer Christal Canzler said in a statement.
Lighter-bodied doesn't necessarily mean easier on the waistline, though. A 16-ounce iced coconut milk mocha macchiato, which also includes white chocolate mocha sauce in addition to coconut milk and espresso, and is topped with caramel sauce and mocha sauce, has 220 calories, a mere 30 calories fewer than a 16-ounce iced caramel macchiato made with 2 percent milk.
On Monday, Starbucks also made waves of another sort when it announced via an open letter to employees from CEO Howard Schultz that on October 3, it will give all “partners,” as it refers to employees, and managers a base pay raise of 5 percent or more, with exact amounts “determined by geographic and market factors.”
Schultz also said Starbucks will double the annual stock award employees with more than two years on the job receive as part of the company’s stock-award program. Combined with the raises, that will give workers a boost of up to 15 percent in their total compensation, he said.