Meanwhile, Starbucks says it’s always been happy to give away frothed milk for free.
Costa Coffee has made a play for the kiddie crowd. The U.K.'s largest coffeehouse chain – and the second largest coffee chain in the world behind (way behind!) Starbucks – has announced it’s axing the 55 pence (about 75 cents) charge on its “babyccinos” and will now be giving the tiny child-friendly drinks away for free.
For those unfamiliar with the babyccino, don’t fret: This isn’t a ploy to get already rambunctious tots caffeinated and running around your local Costa location. Instead, the playfully-named beverage is little more than a bit of lightly frothed milk served in a small espresso cup. If that sounds boring, parents can spruce up their babyccinos a bit, but that will still incur a cost. The addition of either three marshmallows or one piece of chocolate flake will run 45 pence. Costa also offers a “Mini Hot Chocolate” – which was formerly referred to as a “chocolate babyccino” – which will still set parents back 55 pence. Also, for kids with milk allergies, the coffee chain offers a coconut milk alternative, but that version is still subject to a charge.
Though offering free beverage options for children is clearly a positive PR move for Costa, the news was met with a bit of a smirk from one of the chain’s top competitors, Starbucks. Turns out the ‘Bucks has been offering free “babyccinos” for some time now. “Our baristas can steam a small cup of milk to a warm temperature for free, so customers are welcome to just ask next time they are in store,” Robert Lynch, vice president of EMEA Retail Operations at Starbucks, told the Mirror. It’s an admission Costa made on its Facebook page. “Glad it's now free, though some other chains have offered free for years,” wrote a Facebook user named Ruth, to which Costa replied, “Exactly! Was definitely the right thing to do, enjoy.”