OPINION: Local coffee shops should stop up charging for dairy alternatives


Baswanth Naidu/ The sunflower

Brett Foraker pours the Milk to make the coffee at Fairmount Coffee Company on Mar 8th.

Coffee is meant to be an on-the-go treat. Whether you make it at home or you stop at your local coffee shop, it’s a nice way to wake up.

But, for some of us who like our coffee creamy and sweet without using dairy, it can be hard to afford our coffee runs, even if we don’t go all the time. Dairy alternatives are almost essential to those who are vegan, lactose intolerant or those that just don’t like drinking milk at all.

However, many people are switching from dairy to plant-based alternatives because dairy is bad for the environment. 

According to an article from Columbia Climate school, a 2018 study from Oxford University shows that a glass of cow’s milk has more emissions than any alternative milk. 

Starbucks is one of the biggest coffee chains worldwide. This coffee shop chain charges 70 cents for dairy alternatives per drink. This means a grande iced latte would be $5.25 before, but if you use oat milk, it now costs $5.95, and after taxes, your drink costs $6.40. Of the many students and faculty at Wichita State that go to Starbucks, an employee at the RSC Starbucks located on campus estimated about 15-20 percent of their customers order plant-based alternatives a day. 

Fairmount Coffee Company is a locally owned coffee shop located on 17th street across from Wichita State. This location brings in many students from WSU. Fairmount charges 75 cents for milk alternatives. An employee from Fairmount estimated that about 30-40 percent of their daily customers ask for these milk alternatives. 

Milk alternatives at large chain retailers such as Walmart and Dillons cost more than whole milk. A half gallon of almond milk at Walmart is $2.78 and a half gallon of whole milk is $1.78. 

At Dillons, a half gallon of whole milk is $1.99 and a half gallon of almond milk ranges between $2.79-4.29, depending on the brand. 

Most of the coffee shops here in Wichita charge for dairy alternatives, the only place that does not charge for plant-based milks is Caffe Americana and they charge 50 cents for additional flavors. 

One way coffee shops can stop charging for dairy alternatives, is they can only charge for syrups. Starbucks charges 80 cents for each additional flavor and Fairmount charges 75 cents to $1. 

Starbucks and Fairmount charge the same amount or more for additional flavors than they do milk alternatives, if they decide to drop charges on milk alternatives, they should keep the charges on additional flavors.