Once Again, Thanks Starbucks

Almost all of America would agree that Starbucks is responsible for educating Americans on it being acceptable to spend $3.00 on a cup of coffee that is made fresh and tastes great. As we have become increasingly Starbuck-ized, fanciful coffee drinks are now an everyday affair. For this the dairy industry is forever-indebted to Starbucks.

From frappaccinos to lattes, as well as the whipped cream topping, analysts estimate that Starbucks sells more milk than coffee when it comes to coffee shop orders. Thanks Starbucks.

Now, don’t misunderstand me. White mustaches and lowercase interrogatives have done their fair share of making milk cool. But Starbucks, wow, Starbucks bought, poured and served the white stuff . . . without the help of Hollywood.

My guess is that the dairy industry never fully appreciated Starbucks’ white milk purchases; but that is about to change. In case you have not heard, Starbucks is downsizing. Instead of opening a new store every four days, it has ceased expansion plans, closed thousands of stores and will likely shut more doors before the end of the year. This translates to Starbucks using less of the white stuff.

There is light at the end of the tunnel. Starbucks recognized that eventually the coffee business would slow, and in order to attract new customers or simply keep the interest of current customers, the company would have to offer new beverages.

A few years ago, Starbucks identified whey proteins as an on-trend ingredient for beverages designed to meet the needs of today’s on-the-go, health- and wellness-seeking consumer. Working closely with the Whey Protein Institute, Starbucks introduced Vivanno Nourishing Blends this July at Starbucks stores across the United States and Canada.

Developed with a strong nutritional goal in mind, a 16-oz serving of the Orange Mango Banana and Banana Chocolate flavored beverages provides at least one serving of fruit, 16g protein (all dairy protein) and 5g fiber with 270 calories or less and no artificial colors or any type of added sweetener. The simple ingredient list for both beverages is one whole banana, a proprietary whey protein and fiber powder (inulin), choice of milk and ice. In the Orange Mango Banana Blend, Naked Juice is also added.

“Our customers have told us they’re looking for overall well-being in their lives and healthier options are part of that. We feel the simple, transparent ingredient list and the functional nutrition of Vivanno meet this need,” says Katie Thomson, registered dietitian and senior nutritionist at Starbucks. “We developed this beverage to help our customers get through their busy days by creating a proprietary whey protein and fiber powder that delivers the sustaining nourishment they’re looking for without interfering with the great taste.”

The two drinks can be easily customized to fit taste preference and lifestyle. A shot of espresso added to the Banana Chocolate Blend provides the bold, smooth flavor of espresso with no extra calories. Matcha green tea powder added to the Orange Mango Banana Blend gives the beverage the antioxidants of green tea with only 40 additional calories. Nonfat milk in place of the standard 2% shaves off 20 calories and up to 3g fat.

If you don’t know about whey proteins, they are high-quality proteins only obtained from cow’s milk. They are a rich source of essential amino acids needed on a daily basis by the body. In its purest form as whey protein isolate, it contains little to no fat, lactose or cholesterol.

Whey protein is an excellent protein choice for individuals of all ages. It provides a number of benefits in areas including sports nutrition, weight management, immune support, bone health and general wellness. New information on the health benefits of whey protein continues to become available as researchers discover new applications for both whey protein and its unique individual protein components. One of the most obvious applications is supplementation of dairy foods with whey protein.

To learn about whey protein’s role in the development of satiety-inducing foods and beverages, see this month’s Ingredient Technology feature on page 54. To experience whey proteins for yourself, go to Starbucks and order a Vivanno. And don’t forget to say thanks for serving dairy. After all, Starbucks is one of our industry’s largest customers.