Coffee Facts

Starbucks Pork Belly Latte

by Lucia Liang on Mar 07, 2024

Starbucks Pork Belly Latte

Good fortune!

To help usher in the Year of the Wood Dragon for the Lunar New Year, Starbucks has unveiled perhaps its most unique and interesting flavor combination yet; Dongpo Pork. Known as the “Lucky Savory Latte” in English, this drink is a limited option available in China and was developed as a means to give people in China a very special, and probably also very surprising, way to celebrate the Chinese New Year! 


Local Traditions

Regional inspiration isn’t new to Starbucks and neither is the boldness to try out new combinations. A case in point is the olive oil lattes inspired by Italian culture that were unveiled within the last few years. But the braised pork latte may be the first time that a meat dish has been added to coffee. And for those wondering if it's just pork flavoring or just pork sauce, no it includes a piece of pork as a garnish as well as pork sauce!


The dish that inspired this particular latte is a type of braised pork attributed to the Song Dynasty scholar and poet, Su Shi. Su Shi was also known by his pen name, Eastern Hill/Slope or Dongpo in Chinese. Su Shi, or Dongpo, was a bit of a gourmand and it is said he enjoyed the very braised pork dish that now today bears his name. Hence why this latte may be called the “Dongpo Pork Latte”. 


At the same locations, Starbucks also offered some other tradition-inspired lattes like Fortune Almond Macchiato, Red Date Rice Macchiato, and Black Sesame Latte. Though these drinks have a level of nuance and uniqueness to them, certainly it was the pork latte that stole the show, with lots of mixed reactions from first-hand customers and outside observers on the internet alike.


Some who have tried the drink remark on how the flavor is “disgusting” and tastes artificial or musty. Others have commented on the unique and even “surprising” flavor. Many have mentioned the interesting combination of the sweet, salty, and savoriness of the latte. Some have also noted that the piece of pork that comes with a garnish tastes good as well as a bonus! The latte itself is brewed normally while pork sauce is added to the top and the piece of pork is partially submerged to be enjoyed alongside the rest of the latte. 


It should be noted that a combination of sweet, salty, savory, bitter, and other flavors are common culinary techniques used in parts of China and Southeast Asia. One other example similar to a mix of sweet, salty, and coffee all in one would be sea salt coffee. Originally developed by a Chinese chef who came up with the idea when considering southern Chinese cuisine and its use of opposing flavors to create harmony. 


This mode of coffee includes a salty and sweet cream that is meant to be licked as one sips the bitter and acidic coffee. The result of these two opposing flavor traits is a happy harmony of flavor. So, the only way to know for certain if the new Starbucks pork latte is for you is to try it if you can! 


That is if you so happen to live in China or will be visiting anytime soon. Oh, and it should also be noted that this truly one-of-a-kind latte costs around $10.00 USD. But, to try easily of the most intriguing latte combinations in a while, it could be worth it! At least for the novelty, and the hopes of good fortune in this new year.


Good fortune, and good coffee

Certainly, Dongpo pork tastes good on a plate, but who knows, maybe it is just as good in a cup of coffee, too. Why not usher in the New Year with this interesting beverage? But, if you would rather keep your coffee and your meat separate, we will not judge you. 


If you would like to perhaps experience the next best thing, why not prepare, order, or procure Chinese braised pork and enjoy it alongside a shot of espresso? After each bite, sip the espresso to experience the harmonizing of the sweet, salty, savory, fatty, bitter, and acidic all at once. You may even get a little adventurous and try to make this one at home...or book a trip to China to try the original! Happy brewing.


Works Cited

  • “Starbucks Launches Pork-Flavored Latte in China and It’s Getting a Pig Reaction.” com, 21 Feb. 2024, Accessed 27 Feb. 2024.
  • Tan, Huileng. “Starbucks Launched a Pork-Flavored Coffee in China. It Costs $10 and Is Dividing People.” Business Insider, Accessed 27 Feb. 2024.
  • Team, Dao. “Pork Belly Latte? Starbucks Goes Viral with “Dongpo Pork” Coffee.” Dao Insights, 20 Feb. 2024, Accessed 27 Feb. 2024.

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