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 a 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, . 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.”