The Real Reason Paul McCartney Just Called Out Starbucks

Sure, Starbucks has a lot of absolute yummy beverages, but the coffee chain also has a whole lot of scandals and controversies it's collected over the course of its 50-something years in business (per the official website). Needless to say, some of these incidents are a little less than savory.

For example, in 2018, two Black men were sitting in a Starbucks waiting for their associates when the manager decided to call the cops. The two men were arrested for trespassing, leading to mass protests and boycotts against Starbucks for its racial discrimination. The chain then faced "nearly $16 million in negative press reports related to the incident" (via BNN Bloomberg).

And who can forget all the drama with the holiday cups? In 2015, Starbucks offered a plain red cup in lieu of any sort of seasonal design. Nice and simple, right? Wrong. The chain was immediately hit with backlash for its alleged "war on Christmas." The following year, people were furious about Starbucks' green cups, and then the next year — well, you get the point. Now, the latest hullabaloo involves The Beatles great and staunch vegan Paul McCartney who is calling out the chain for charging more for plant-based milk.

Asking for a different milk will cost you at Starbucks

The Starbucks menu offers standard whole milk, 2% milk, and nonfat milk, but it also offers dairy-free options with almond, coconut, oat, and soy milks. At first glance, this seems like great news for those who are dairy-sensitive or vegan.

However, some of these substitutions come with a price — literally. Customers who ask for oat milk, for example, in place of whole milk are charged an extra 70 cents, says Business Insider. According to Daily Hive, this has led to Paul McCartney even calling out the chain for its upcharge on plant-based milks.

"It recently came to my attention that Starbucks in the USA has an extra charge for plant-based milks as opposed to cow's milk," he said in the open letter to Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, as shared in Billboard. "I must say this surprised me as I understand that in other countries like UK and India, there is the same charge for both types of milk and I would like to politely request that you consider this policy also in Starbucks USA."

Although this extra charge may not seem like too much of an inconvenience, it does add up for the regular customer, and keep in mind that all of Starbucks' U.K. locations dropped the added charge in January 2022 (via Plant Based News). Additionally, organizations like Surge Activism say that as much as 36% of the U.S. population and 68% of the world's population cannot digest standard milk. With dairy-free milk alternatives in such high demand, it only makes sense to price them as we price cow milk, say many advocates.