What’s in a Latte?
Caffeine’s appeal is so great that coffee beans have been reported as the second biggest trade commodity in the world, after crude oil. Standing in front of the register craving that early morning pick-me-up, however, it is easy to forget your 16 ounce latte contains far more milk than espresso beans. As a barista at various coffeehouses over five years, I saw firsthand the effects of how this enormous franchise has made its impact on the dairy market.
The amount of milk a single coffeeshop goes through is staggering. I remember running through dozens of gallon cartons a day, and if our coffeeshop ever over-stocked the supply, more cartons would be wasted on the expiration date. That was just in one cafe, and Starbucks has almost 20,000 stores worldwide.
Now imagine each one of these busy spots (and over 10,000 Dunkin’ Donuts plus thousands of smaller chains) pouring milk constantly into one steel pitcher after another. Cups are being filled to their respective 12 oz, 16 oz, 20 oz and now 31 oz brims and then some. It is a never-ending demand for more and more milk.
Go Dairy-Free, and Cows Will Thank You A Latte
In 2011, Starbucks used over 93 million gallons of milk. Starbucks, along with millions of other cafes, are a very large reason why dairy farmers are pressured to supply vast amounts of milk. Today’s U.S. dairy industry has a devastating impact on the lives of dairy cows (and cows deemed unfit for the dairy industry too), viewing them as the means, rather than the ends, of production.
Production is a direct response to demand, and we are the demand. Our society orders (quite literally from a menu) for this sad and abusive control to continue. Not only does the dairy industry mistreat its cows, but it also misinforms its consumers. For years, the dairy industry coughed up millions to convince the American public milk was the perfect food, when nothing could be further from the truth.
Coconut Mochas, Anyone?
On the upside, Starbucks is testing coconut milk as another milk alternative (besides soy) to use in both hot and cold beverages.
For the current experiment, coconut milk is only being offered in Portland, Oregon and Cleveland, Ohio, but if successful, it could expand to other locations and mean more non-dairy options for its customers. With more choices, more classic milk drinkers will hopefully become inspired to make the switch to something new and cruelty-free.
The next time you are in your favorite coffeeshop, expand your horizons by adding a non-dairy beverage to your morning ritual. Instead of reaching for the half and half, top your dark coffee off with some almond milk. Better yet, substitute all that milk in your go-to non-fat latte with soy! Remember, big changes start with small, individual choices. Your coffee order has more impact than you think.