Starbucks has just joined the rapidly growing list of big food chains serving menu items with plant-based meats. On Tuesday, the chain debuted a new breakfast sandwich made with an Impossible sausage patty.
In recent years, the global coffee company has added several dairy alternatives to its menu, such as soy, coconut, almond and oat milks — but this sandwich is Starbucks' first breakfast offering made with a plant-based protein.
The Impossible Breakfast Sandwich mimics Starbucks' classic breakfast sandwich with sausage, but uses Impossible sausage meat (that's topped with a fried egg and cheddar cheese) instead of pork. The new meatless breakfast sandwich retails for about $5, about a dollar more than its non-vegetarian counterpart.
Since the sandwich contains both eggs and cheese, it's not suitable for vegans. And while customers may request the sandwich without any additional toppings, the ciabatta bun it's served on does contain dairy. The Impossible Breakfast Sandwich is also warmed to order in the same ovens used to heat up menu items that do contain meat.
While the chain has recently released breakfast wraps and other new breakfast items, like Sous Vide Egg Bites, the Impossible offering is the first new breakfast sandwich the chain has debuted since the 2018 release of its Chicken, Sausage & Bacon Biscuit.
Plant-based proteins are becoming an increasingly-common alternative — or substitution — on fast-food menus. Burger King, White Castle and KFC are among the many national chains that have experimented with dishes featuring meat-free protein patties in the past few years.
Despite their popularity, plant-based meats have also been criticized for containing too many ingredients. When it comes to their fat, sodium and calorie content, they're also not necessarily healthier than animal protein (but the makers of plant-based meats argue that they're still much better for the environment).
Starbucks' new Impossible breakfast sandwich has 420 calories, 22 grams of protein and 8 grams of saturated fat, while its standard breakfast sandwich with sausage will set you back 480 calories, and contains 18 grams of protein with 10 grams of saturated fat.
This week, Starbucks also debuted two new drink options for summer, including a Cold Brew with Cinnamon Almondmilk Foam, which features cold brew coffee topped with cinnamon, vanilla and nondairy foam; and a Cold Brew with Dark Cocoa Almondmilk Foam, which has mocha sauce and cocoa powder. These two items are joining Starbuck's permanent menu.
Starbucks' new breakfast sandwich may be the chain's first foray into the world of plant-based proteins, but according to Michael Kobori, the chief sustainability officer at Starbucks, it likely won't be the last.
“Our customers continue to look for new ways to enjoy plant-based options at Starbucks and customize their Starbucks moment, and we are delighted to introduce these new menu items to our customers over the coming years," Kobori said in a statement.
The Impossible Breakfast Sandwich is now available at Starbucks locations nationwide.