Starbucks’ Spring Launch


Cheyenne Halverson

The Starbucks in Greenway Station was the only one in Middleton to have the new Iced Toasted Vanilla Oatmilk Shaken Espresso.

Cheyenne Halverson

There are hundreds of things to look forward to in March, including warm temperatures, March Madness, and the end of winter. However, there’s no way to embrace the changing of the seasons quite like a new Starbucks drink. Starbucks celebrated this spring by releasing the new Iced Toasted Vanilla Oatmilk Shaken Espresso. Normally Starbucks launches numerous new menu items in March, however, this spring, Starbucks put all of their Easter eggs in one basket. Starbucks is relying on the Iced Toasted Vanilla Oatmilk Shaken Espresso to retain consumer interest, but the drink isn’t up to the task.

With this release, Starbucks confirmed at least one rumor: the days of simple drink names are far behind us. Starbucks fully understands that more is in fact better, and they embrace that by adding more and more words to the names of their featured drinks. 

The Iced Toasted Vanilla Oatmilk Shaken Espresso doesn’t even have a fun acronym, “ITVOSE” hardly rolls off the tongue. However, it can be no coincidence ITVOSE is an anagram for STOVIE, a traditional Scottish potato dish. From this, one can only assume that Stovies will be the next addition to the Starbucks menu. Starbucks was obviously envious of the attention Taylor Swift was getting from her cryptic album announcements, so they decided to design a creative launch of their own.

Starbucks is also clearly using the Iced Toasted Vanilla Oatmilk Shaken Espresso to make social and political statements. In the midst of a societal rejection of eating disorders and their causes, Starbucks is defying social norms by embracing diet culture, boasting that their new spring drink will “boost your day for under 200 calories.” Starbucks also supports the mask mandate by masking the flavor of their burnt espresso with an excess amount of sugary syrup in the Iced Toasted Vanilla Oatmilk Shaken Espresso.

This Shaken Espresso drink is a permanent addition to Starbucks’ expanding plant-based and dairy-free menu, which includes the Iced Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso and the Iced Chocolate Almondmilk Shaken Espresso, which were released in March of 2021. It might seem that Starbucks is a one-trick pony when it comes to dairy-free drinks, but they’re actually a zero-trick pony, as none of these drinks are done particularly well.

If you’d assume that drinks that declare themselves to be “shaken” would come already mixed, you’d be incorrect. Only the espresso is shaken, and the milk is poured on top, which leads to layers in the drink. If you fail to mix it yourself, the first half of the drink is exclusively milk and the second half of the drink is virtually straight espresso, neither of which is particularly enjoyable to drink. To combine the drink you have to stir it by swirling it because Starbucks drinks no longer come with a straw (#savetheturtles). However, this does give you a valid excuse to swirl the drink and announce to the world that you’re drinking an iced coffee, which tends to annoy everyone in the vicinity.

To find a Starbucks that had the drink in stock, I had to drive around town to multiple Starbucks locations. I had high expectations because the drink seemed to be so popular, however, in retrospect, it’s hard to say whether the lack of availability of the drink was due to its popularity or Starbucks’ failure to amply supply their stores.

Starbucks claimed “spring just got sweeter” with the release of this drink, which is true, but it’s far too sweet. The drink tastes similar to a toasted marshmallow, which makes sense because the drink consists of a sugary syrup mixed with Starbucks’ characteristically burnt espresso.

There’s depth in the flavor in the way that a toasted marshmallow has some depth without having an interesting or complex flavor profile. If you spend your Easter consuming numerous Peeps in one sitting, you might actually enjoy the drink. I do have a sweet tooth, but after the first couple of sips, I found the drink to be sickeningly sweet, and I couldn’t even finish it. Instead of being “like vanilla with a glow up,” this drink is more reminiscent of vanilla in the midst of puberty.

If you like excess amounts of sugar and have $6 that you want to get rid of, then the Iced Toasted Vanilla Oatmilk Shaken espresso might be for you. However, anyone else would be better off living in ignorance.