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The Coconut Milk That Isn’t

July 23, 2015

Sometimes Twitter is great. Sometimes it is awful. I spent too much time last night on Twitter reading about Sandra Bland. It’s awful. And horrifying. On so many levels.

I’m lucky that I have the luxury to complain about the small stuff. I’m very, very lucky.

But just because there are great injustices in the world doesn’t mean that minor injustices should get a free pass. And this isn’t a political blog or one based on social action. File this one under “Let the Consumer Beware” and know that Dunkin’ Donuts isn’t the only chain where the definitions of established foodstuffs may tend to blur with reality.

Starbucks is getting into the game too. Perhaps you’ve seen the signs for the relatively new addition of coconut milk. Aparently the coconuts come from Sumatra too. It sounds very fancy.

What’s not fancy is what’s actually inside the coconut milk.

Honestly, much like Dunkin’s blueberries and eggs, I don’t know how Starbucks is allowed to call this product “Coconut Milk” on its menu. Even the box the stuff comes in calls it “coconut milk beverage with coconut water from concentrate”.

Anyone who has spent anytime with juice vs. “juice” knows that those bottles without enough actual juice need to be labeled as a “beverage”. So when I noticed that the Starbucks “coconut milk” was actually a “coconut milk beverage” I had to investigate further.

It turns out my misgivings were justified, because this beverage is made from water, coconut cream, cane sugar, tricalcium phosphate, coconut water concentrate, natural flavors, sea salt, carrageenan, gellan gum, corn dextrin, xanthan gum, guar gum, vitamin a palmitate, vitamin d2.

Surely, that’s a far stretch from what consumers think they’re getting when ordering “Single Origin Sumatra Coconut Milk.”

What a crock. And I wouldn’t have known Starbucks dirty little secret had I not stumbled onto a delivery of cartons. My guess is that despite a lot of similarly grumpy reports from consumers online, that there are still plenty of people who are unaware of this deception.

Of course, if you like this sweetened, diluted, flavored, and thickened perversion of coconut milk, I’m not going to stop you from drinking it. You’re just being charged a lot of money for coconut flavored sugar water, and they’ll typically give you the sugar water for free.

Nobody said Starbucks wasn’t good at making money. Preserving the integrity of a brand? Well, that’s another matter.

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