Starbucks China Debuts A Savory Latte Inspired By A Traditional Pork Dish

Most people know that Starbucks has a huge array of international drinks that you can only get in certain countries, but until now, we hadn't heard about any involving pork. Despite its home being the United States, Starbucks goes to lengths to appeal to the taste of local customers anywhere, and that can result in some pretty delicious sounding items, like the nutty Mont Blanc Latte in Japan or the fruit and caramel mix of the Lúcuma Crème Frappuccino in Peru. Starbucks' new drink in China translates to "Abundant Year Savory Latte" and is a limited-time offering in honor of the Lunar New Year.

A Starbucks spokesperson told Tasting Table, "To celebrate the Lunar New Year, 25 Reserve stores across China have released limited-time beverages that feature local flavor profiles and highlight traditional customs." The drink mixes espresso and milk with Dongpo braised pork flavor sauce, with more pork sauce and a piece of pork as a garnish. Dongpo Pork is a Chinese dish dating all the way back to the 11th-century Song Dynasty and was supposedly created by a famous scholar-poet named Su Dongpo. For many years, the dish has been part of a traditional Lunar New Year celebration.

Starbucks China's savory pork latte is appealing to the company's largest emerging market

The modern version of Dongpo Pork is braised pork belly in a mixture of soy sauces, rock sugar, and Shaoxing wine with some other flavorings like ginger. As a Starbucks Reserve item, the Abundant Year Savory Latte comes in at 68 yuan, or a whopping $9.45. Since the beverage is directly tied to the holiday, the window to pick it up is small. The Abundant Year Savory Latte is only available until February 26, or while supplies last.

China is one of Starbucks' fastest-growing markets, with the coffee chain opening over 700 stores in the country just last year. That brings the total to over 6,500 locations in 250 cities throughout China, although that is still less than half of the largest Chinese coffee chain, Luckin Coffee. Starbucks, like many food and drink outlets, took a big hit from the strict COVID lockdowns in China but managed to recover strongly last year with a big 20% jump in revenue in the second half of the year, even in the face of cheaper local alternatives. Starbucks is on track to have 9,000 stores in China by the end of next year, so we may be hearing a lot more about its local specialty flavors in the future.