Aug 29, 2022 - Economy

Pumpkin spice returns to Starbucks Tuesday

Starbucks cups in front of pumpkins with leaves in the sky

Photo courtesy of Starbucks

Starbucks switches seasons Tuesday with the launch of its fall menu, which includes the Pumpkin Spice Latte and a revamped Apple Crisp Macchiato.

The big picture: Even with weeks of summer left and sweaty temps not sweater weather, the arrival of pumpkin spice signals the unofficial start of fall for the flavor's biggest fans.

Driving the news: Starbucks is breaking its long tradition of pushing pumpkin's return earlier each year with the latest release date since 2018, when it came back on Aug. 28.

  • Sept. 22 is the official first day of fall but pumpkin doughnuts and coffee returned earlier than ever at Krispy Kreme (Aug. 8) and Dunkin' (Aug. 17).
  • Pumpkin also is already back at participating 7-Eleven, Peet's Coffee, Tim Hortons, Caribou Coffee, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Jamba, Wawa and QuickChek locations.

Flashback: The pumpkin spice craze was born 19 years ago, when Starbucks debuted its Pumpkin Spice Latte — or PSL for short — in 2003.

State of play: The return of pumpkin also kicks off the annual debate over whether it's too soon for fall flavors and if "pumpkin everything" fanfare has gone too far.

  • More than 50% of Gen Z respondents are obsessed with all things pumpkin spice, according to a 2021 survey by Nissin Foods.

Pumpkin cold brew, apple macchiato among Starbucks fall drinks

As part of Starbucks' fall menu, the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew returns for the fourth year and is joined by the Apple Crisp Macchiato that debuted last year.

  • This year, the Apple Crisp Macchiato will be made with oat milk and Blonde Espresso, which Starbucks said “adds a creaminess and brings forward the oat flavors of a traditional apple crisp topping."
  • Starbucks also brings back its Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin and Pumpkin Scone for a limited time along with the new Owl Cake Pop.

Meanwhile, the classic Pumpkin Spice Latte and apple drink can be made hot, iced and blended at U.S. Starbucks stores throughout the season, while supplies last.

  • Cold beverages have been “hot” at Starbucks and accounted for around 75% of beverage sales in U.S. company-operated stores, officials said Aug. 2 during an earnings call.

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