Review: Starbucks' Seasonal Iced Drinks Spring Forward With Bold Lavender Flavor

The snow has melted, the flowers are sprouting, and the birds have changed their tunes. Yet the biggest sign of the change of season in your morning waited till the 7th of March to drop. That's when Starbucks debuts its 2024 spring menu: two new lavender drinks that represent a fresh foray for the mega-chain. 

The Iced Lavender Cream Oatmilk Matcha and the Iced Lavender Oatmilk Latte see Starbucks dipping its toes into an herbal space that has bloomed across the coffee landscape in recent years. Starbucks' seasonal offerings are as reliable as the rotation of the earth itself, though you won't have to wait till the equinox to try them. 

I headed down to the Starbucks' Midtown press tasting event, where I was able to sample both new spring lavender drinks for ourselves. Along with tasting the drink offerings, I was privy to the impending release of new Starbucks drinkware merch, intended to save consumers a bit on their return-visit refills (and the planet from a bit more waste). The drinkware release day is the same as the lavender beverage options (March 7th) and sees the drop of ultra-bright vessels as well as a new installment of the Starbucks Artist Collaboration Series, this time featuring artist Shae Anthony.

What are the two new lavender drinks on the Starbucks spring menu?

There are two new coffee concoctions available in the second quarter of 2024: the Iced Lavender Cream Oatmilk Matcha and the Iced Lavender Oatmilk Latte. It's the first time Starbucks has put lavender on the menu, which you might find hard to believe given how long it's been a feature in other coffee shops.

Starbucks admits as much, telling us that lavender has been one of its most requested innovations. Last summer, the beverage development team members visited a Washington lavender farm and engaged with the purple herb to immerse themselves in its characteristics. While a field trip to an entire hillside of fragrant flowers sounds like a fun excursion, the drink developers were on duty and soon created a couple of coffee concoctions whose balance will surprise a lot of people used to how quickly lavender can dominate a cup of java.

Both drinks, one made with matcha and the other with espresso, pair lavender with oat milk. If that's not your thing, stick around: think lavender's powerful presence and oat milk's earthy tones actually balance out each other's more intrusive notes. It takes a lot to overwhelm coffee's strong body, but when set in place delicately, lavender's often-fierce flavor makes for a happy, dynamic marriage — perhaps thanks to the oat/lavender/coffee thruple you only get in your most Dionysian spring rites.

Where and when are Starbucks lavender drinks available and how much do they cost?

Starbucks's two new Spring Menu lavender drinks debut today, Thursday, March 7, in Starbucks locations nationwide. While the price will vary depending on what market you buy it in, the difference is nominal, ranging from $5.75 to $6.75. City folk need not worry about a significant lavender tax; the difference in price is just a small adjustment for the cost of doing business.

Unlike some of our previous reviews on new Starbucks offerings, you won't have to hunt down a Starbucks Roastery or Starbucks Reserve location to try these new spring menu lavender coffee drinks. Starbucks is making them both fully available in every location. If you are lucky enough to live near a Starbucks Reserve, however, spring will also bring your well-fated tastebuds new malt and affogato offerings. They come alongside three new types of avocado toast from the Reserves' in-house Princi bakery partnership.

What's in the Starbucks lavender drinks and what's the nutritional info?

While its name and green-goddess appearance might suggest full harmony with plant-based options, the reality of this drink is trickier. Vegans should beware that along with the matcha and oat milk base, dairy is found in the lavender cold cream foam that tops the Iced Lavender Cream Oatmilk Matcha. 

You can adjust it to your tastes, but as a standard pour, the cream brings a hearty wallop to something that looks breezy and easy. The Iced Lavender Cream Oatmilk Matcha weighs in at a hefty 360 calories, with 19 total grams of fat and 9 grams of saturated fat. It is rounded out by 33 grams of sugar amid 46 grams of carbohydrates and 4 grams of protein. If you're trying not to overcaffeinate, rest easy (or at least rest with a mild buzz). Only 60 milligrams of caffeine spike this beverage.

The Iced Lavender Oatmilk Latte is more macro-conscious. It is made with a shot of espresso, a base of oat milk, and lavender syrup. It has a lighter calorie count (210 grams) and 7 grams of total fat (1 gram saturated). However, at 170 milligrams of caffeine, it is more likely to supercharge your spring fever. Alas, it only contains 2 grams of protein, so you'll have to save those Easter eggs for a post-gym protein snack.

Taste test: Iced Lavender Cream Oat Milk Matcha

Sure, it's gorgeous, but the proof of the flower is in its nectar, and this spring sipper blossoms in the mouth. As delicious as it is, you'll want to make it last because you'll feel full afterward. 

Despite the caloric heft, the Iced Lavender Cream Oatmilk Matcha tastes exquisitely fresh. The first impression is sweetness, but rather than being pulled into candy bar country, the beverage ends on a full-bodied flourish that can't help but feel light. The oat and dairy create a creamy mouthfeel, but the former mingles with the lavender top to create something oddly and deceptively minty for a moment before separating back into elements of floral and earthy. The grassiness of matcha ultimately dominates but remains in chorus with the breadiness of oats and the fragrant lavender that taste as if sprouting from mingled, rich terrain.

Final takeaway: This one's for the spring-forward customer looking to load up on rich tastes without feeling exhausted at the end. Order this one in place of breakfast or dessert because it's the equivalent of a meal.

Taste test: Iced Lavender Oatmilk Latte

The Iced Lavender Oatmilk Latte is made with Starbucks's beloved blonde espresso and oatmilk. Lavender powder provides the signature swerve here, stirred in for a much subtler profile than the matcha provides. To get the herbal flavors to the top of your tastebuds, you have to really pull a full swig up your tongue as you swish it around your mouth and give it a chew: not the standard way of drinking coffee, but there if you want to engage and play with the extra bit of experience.

Left to its own devices, this satisfying brew is smooth and creamy off the oat milk's characteristic silkiness. If you're one of those people who eschews oat milk, this might be the drink that's going to change your mind. The bran flavor balances the blonde espresso, which is a lighter roast intended to make the coffee experience less bitter. The profile matches the wheaty and sweet notes of the milk and works at pushing down the botanical side of the lavender while raising the natural, herbal flavor. 

Are they worth it?

Starbucks has success with both beverages, but I hesitate to recommend them universally. If you're doing it for the 'Gram, you'll want to go with the Iced Lavender Cream Oat Milk Matcha, whose green and purple hues make for a compelling image. While I loved its sweetness and creaminess, it feels much more like dessert than it does an everyday sipper. 

From our purview, the better get the Iced Lavender Oatmilk Latte, which is silky smooth and has the right balance of similar flavors but with a milder taste of sugar and a less fatty mouthfeel. This drink platforms the natural tastes more and leaves you feeling lighter and fresher ... in short, it's more like spring itself.

Glancing at the nutritional info above, this is consistent: the matcha comes in strong with the same amount of sugar as a can of Coke and 19 grams of fat, whereas the latte is a little over half of either and brings more caffeine buzz for the metaphorical bumblebee of your attention span. While the matcha is a nice treat for a warm afternoon, the latte is the one to get you going on a cool spring morning. Still, given that spring is about bursting forward with energy that's bound to fizzle out in the form of bursting flowers, nobody is going to fault you if you choose excess.