Vegetable Coffee Is Having A Summer Moment

Of all the popular and exciting coffee trends for 2024, we've got to admit we didn't see this one coming. The latest viral drink having a moment on TikTok is the spring onion latte, and it calls into question everything we know about coffee. Inspired by a trend from China, the beverage is exactly what it sounds like — espresso and milk poured over muddled green onions, served over ice, and garnished with ... more onions.

This isn't the first time savory coffee drinks from China have made waves. The country has also been the source of soy sauce lattes, beef broth lattes, oyster coffee, and coffee served with century eggs. For 2024's Lunar New Year, Starbucks locations in China experimented with pork sauce coffee, a drink flavored with sweet and salty braised pork and finished with a meat skewer. The spring onion latte, however, is a distinctly new take that puts the unmistakable flavor of the aromatic vegetable front and center. And it's that intense onion taste that makes this drink challenging.


We tried the viral spring onion latte 🧅🙄☕️ Is this the next boba tea?🤨 What's your thoughts on this? 👇 #onioncoffee #springonioncoffee #onion

♬ original sound – The Basic Barista

In reality, the latte was likely created more as a provocation than as something meant to actually taste good. While the origin of the spring onion latte is unknown, it's not a traditional food reflective of cultural preferences, and is considered an example of China's "dark cuisine" movement. Referred to as hei an liao li in Chinese, it's a classification for foods created specifically to be daunting or repellant. As such, the shock factor of drinking onion coffee is likely intended more as a dare than as something delicious.

The rise of vegetable coffee drinks

As for what spring onion lattes (also called scallion or green onion lattes) taste like, social media comments range from those calling it disgusting, to noting the overpowering smell is the first thing you'll notice. A barista who tried it on TikTok remarked, "You can't even fake any redeeming qualities. That is horrific." Some claim the drink provides "a great source of energy and calcium" (also per TikTok) — but that energy is just caffeine.

If you really want to benefit from a cup of Joe with nutritive and therapeutic qualities, you might want to try the other popular veggie-infused hot beverage that's more palatable — mushroom coffee. Mushrooms used in coffee are dried and powdered, with a subtle, earthy flavor that is barely detectable. There's less caffeine, so you still get energy and focus but without the jitters. While its medicinal claims have not been conclusively proven, it may benefit the immune and digestive systems while reducing stress.

Other vegetables have found their way into coffee recently as well. Pink lattes get their vibrant color from beetroot powder, which provides performance-enhancing nitrates as well as a sweet, earthy counterpart to bitter espresso. Avocados are packed with nutrients, beneficial fats, and antioxidants. They're used in sweets and shakes in Indonesia and Vietnam, and they're great in coffee too. Sweetened with condensed milk or the addition of chocolate syrup, avocado coffee makes for a delightfully creamy treat.