It may still be warm out, but it’s already fall and cozy beverage season at coffee chains across Canada. This season, they’re adding lots of oat milk and other dairy-free options to their beverage lineups—and, as the resident lactose-intolerant, I was up to the task to try them all.
Starbucks’ Apple Oat Flat White
A diversion from its standard pumpkin drink, the Apple Oat Flat White is Starbucks’ first oat-based seasonal drink. It uses Canadian company’s Earth’s Own Barista Oat Milk. (That oat milk also won our staff taste test for the best plant-based milk for coffee.) This only-available-in-Canada hot beverage features a combination of Starbucks’ signature espresso, steamed oat milk, roasted apple syrup, and clove sugar topping.
Oat milk in itself is already slightly sweet, so with the roasted apple syrup, the beverage was just sweet enough for me without needing additional sugar. The coffee was smooth and this was very easy to drink. The latte actually reminded me of a slightly nutty apple-cinnamon oatmeal. Unsurprisingly, the drink was created to be reminiscent of activities like apple picking and baking apple–essentially autumn in a cup. I will note that my barista forgot to sprinkle my drink with the clove topping, but it was still delicious and I would order it again.
As of late August, you can order all of Starbucks Canada’s specialty drinks with oat milk—including an iced version of the Apple Oat Flat White (served with the company’s new strawless lid.)
Second Cup’s Vegan Oat Pumpkin Spice Latte
The PSL isn’t new to Second Cup’s menu line-up, but this vegan option is. Canadian-based Second Cup is celebrating the start of fall with their first-ever vegan Pumpkin Spice Latte, made with Pacific Foods Barista Series Oat Milk (also a Canadian company). Second Cup’s PSL blends the oat milk with bold espresso, organic pumpkin pie spice blend and a pumpkin pie spice syrup made with pure cane sugar and no artificial flavours. A few years ago, Second Cup’s pumpkin spice blend contained dairy allergens, but that’s all changed now with a new formulation to make it vegan.
In my opinion, oat milk is a great pairing with pumpkin spice. The latte was very smooth, with a pleasant spice flavour that wasn’t overwhelming or artificial-tasting. Drinking this definitely invoked feeling of warmth, like I should have been wearing a cozy sweater or scarf. The syrup did make this drink a bit on the sweeter side, so make sure not to add any additional sweeteners (or ask for less syrup), if you prefer your lattes less so.
You can also custom order oat milk in Second Cup’s other drink offerings, including the new Toasted Nut Frappé.
Tim Hortons’ Almond Milk Pumpkin Spice Latte
Tim Hortons was lagging behind its competitors when it came to offering dairy-free alternatives on the menu. That changed this past summer when they introduced Silk Almond Beverage as their plant-based milk substitute. Based on guest research, Tim Hortons’ found that guests who requested a non-dairy alternative would opt for almond beverage more than other alternatives.
I ordered their seasonal pumpkin spice latte with almond milk, and it arrived topped with a whipped topping and their pumpkin spice syrup drizzle. This was by far the sweetest beverage out of all three—so much so that I couldn’t actually finish a small size. There was a very slight pumpkin spice flavour to it, but in my opinion, tasted mostly just like sugary coffee. The sweetness completely overpowered what little flavour there was. If I were to order again, I’d probably try omitting the whipped topping and half the syrup.
Almond milk can be customized for Tim Horton’s other drink offerings, including the Pumpkin Spice Iced Cappuccino.