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The Starbucks Pink Drink that helps with Supply - How To Make at Home

March 29, 2019

The Starbucks Pink Drink that helps with Supply - How To Make at Home

Back in 2017, breastfeeding mums broke the internet with the buzz and comments that piled in over a certain pink drink that Starbucks offered that apparently sent their milk spiralling out of control. Comments on blogs and forums were filled with mums claiming they were drowning in the sudden downpour of ounces of milk.

'Send help, I am drowning in my own milk.'

Oversupply can be highly problematic for mums who experience it, but for most of us, freezing bags of milk from one session of pumping (at least once in our lifetime) sounds pretty damn good.

Ok. Maybe a slight exaggeration, however, there was a lot of talk, enough that it was picked up by news websites and bloggers started to make their own recipes. 

Now the first questions you are all wanting to know is what is it, does it work and can I get it in Australia?

This infamous pink drink was first available in the United States on Starbucks 'secret' menu and it a mix of coconut milk and their Acai refresher tea. 

Now, when I found the Acai berry tea mix to see if I could get it in Australia (and no you can't), I also quickly realised after looking at the ingredients that a) it is just full of sugar, b) it contains caffeine (which is a no go for many nursing mums and for the caffeine drinking mums like me, just give me a barista brewed latte thanks) and c) there is nothing in it that will actually increase milk supply. 

See ingredients here:

starbucks pink drink acai refresher ingredients

I am also struggling to understand why they call it Acai at all when it isn't even listed in the ingredients. Anywho, I digress. 

So with that one really just being a flavour base, the next ingredient is the coconut milk. And this is the one that is most likely to be responsible for any sudden Niagara Falls boobie milk incidents. 

Why? To cut a very long story short, the consumption of coconut products has been proven in studies (by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition) to increase the levels of medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) in a mothers breast milk. Lauric and Capric acid are fats found in mothers breast milk naturally and they have antimicrobial properties and provide immune protection to the baby. Eating coconut products (oils, milk, shredded) increases the quantities of these acids in a mothers breastmilk. Does this increase the overall volume? Well no studies are available on that, but it just might if mums are noticing the increase. Coconut is delicious so it definitely won't hurt to add it to your diet. I definitely notice a increase in my supply when I drink our Coconut Malt drink, so for me, it is something I include, but like anything, what works for one mum, might not work for the next.

That being said, I looked at some of the recipes used to 'recreate' this magical unicorn Starbucks pink drink. For the most part, it was a combination of other instant 'tea' flavours people could find: hibiscus, passionfruit and Acai, mixed with grape juice and coconut milk.

Now for me personally, grapes should be consumed one of two ways, eaten whole or as a 'juice' aka wine. So I wasn't interested in using this as the base, also because there would be no supply boosting reason to include it. Same goes for the tea mixes, really just a bunch load of sugar and flavour that adds no benefit.

So I set out to experiment with my own recipe. 

And in the interest of science and helping you guys out, I risked my own supply by stopping all breastfeeding teas, lactation cookies and lactation malt mixes for 3 days prior to making this drink. I exclusively pump and I rely on these products to keep my supply where it needs to be, see that sacrifice I make for you guys!?! I do however, have an impressive freezer stash (thanks lactation tea!), so could afford the window of reduction in the name of the experiment. Exclusively expressing also provides great grounds for testing what does impact supply because you only have the one variable: The pump. So 'the pump isn't as effective as a baby' and 'pumping isn't an indication of supply', which are true statements for mums who direct feed and pump, doesn't apply in my case, it is my ONLY indication of my supply.  Not that I choose this path, however it is my destiny for this 4th breastfeeding journey.

And on cue, my supply reduced. So with boobies ready to be filled, I set out on my Starbucks pink drink recreation experiment.

Oh and no, you can't get it in Australia, I looked into that too.

For the base of this recipe I decided on Cranberry juice instead of grape (because it is tart, delicious and has a bucket load more vitamin c), coconut milk (in the tin, because it is fattier, tastes better and I don't like the UHT coconut milk options, I find them to thin and gross).

coconut milk and cranberry juicy pink drink smoothie to increase supply, starbucks recreation
You can also just use coconut cream in the tin instead of the milk, the only difference is the milk has water added. So you can use the cream straight or add water to that to make the milk. Just make sure you get a tin with no added numbers, just coconut. You will have to check because not all are just coconut, this one pictured and Ayam brand are good options.
Sticking with the theory that somehow the non listed Acai in the original strawberry/Acai refresher tea could make a difference, I added one teaspoon of straight Acai powder. 
So the recipe looked like:
1/2 cup Coconut Milk
3/4 cup Cranberry Juice
1 teaspoon Acai Powder
Handful of ice (not necessary, Starbucks just stir together I believe, however I like the frappe texture so added it).
This was the outcome:
acai berry refresher pink drink for milk supply
Pink and delicious. I was really surprised at how yummy it actually was. Drank it two days in a row. Impact on supply: Nada, Zilch, Zero.
Determined to 'tweak' it to actually make it beneficial to my supply and not just taste good, I swapped out the Acai powder for another superfood: dragon fruit (also known as Pink Pitaya). 
It is a rich dark purple/pink and has so many health benefits, I use it in all my smoothies and bowls now instead of Acai. It is rich in antioxidants, essential fatty acids and has natural prebiotic properties important for gut health.
I also added a big heaped tablespoon of our Coconut Malt powder. Why? Because a) it has coconut milk powder so makes the coconut more concentrated in the final drink, b) it has malt, which for me helps my supply and c) it is delicious. 
So Starbucks Pink Drink round 2 looked like:
1/2 cup Coconut Milk (generous pour)
3/4 cup Cranberry Juice
1 teaspoon Dragon Fruit Powder (Pink Pitaya)
1 heaped tablespoon of Coconut Malt Mix
Handful of ice
malt coconut smoothie for boosting supply
Blend it all up. Look at those colours!
The outcome: pink, addictive deliciousness! I like the Acai version, but this version I love. Like really love, kind of can't stop making it and drinking it every day love!
milk supply pink drink
The million dollar question: Did it increase my supply? Well after the two days of drinking it like the first version, the 3rd morning I did a huge pump (nearly back to what I get when I am drinking the tea: around 300ml, prior to not supplementing with tea or the malt I go back to around 200ml first pump of the morning), so I would say for me, most definitely it does have an impact on my supply and increased my volume.
I now make it most days just because I adore the flavour. It is smooth and creamy from the coconut milk, sweet, but not too sweet and the cranberry provides balance with that little bit of tartness. You can play with the quantities to get it to your taste. Sometimes I increase the coconut milk or use straight coconut cream if I want it creamier, or increase the cranberry if you want it juicier. It is really up to you!
If you try it, let us know how you go! 

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