Starbucks’ New Menu Marks the Beginning of the Holiday Season

Starbucks began the worldwide holiday season earlier this month with the release of their seasonal menu. 

   The returning drinks highlight all the wonderful flavors of this time of year, and are packaged in four new decorated cups. The holiday cups have been a Starbucks staple since 1997 (though the first electronic design files were destroyed in an earthquake and therefore remains a mystery), changing every year in theme and presentation. This year, the classic green and red colors and the added words Merry Coffee create four fun and unique designs. 

   The company’s website explains, “This year’s design uses typography as the main illustrative element for three of the designs, with whole letters playfully rotated for a musical, song-like quality, while polka dots playfully cover the fourth.”

   Each cup also has a green stripe in the back representing a bow to bring all of the designs together. 

   Additionally, on the day the menu was released, there was a promotion to encourage the use of reusable cups. The company offered a free and exclusively designed reusable red cup for any who bought a beverage on November 7th. Customers who received a cup can fill it for 50 cents off the grande beverage cost anytime this holiday season. 

   For those less fortunate folks who missed out on the limited edition cup (like me), the company is offering a white reusable cup for two dollars at participating stores while supplies last. This cup, like every reusable cup, knocks ten cents off the price of any grande drink year-round. 

   As if Starbucks’ holiday cups couldn’t get any better, if a customer takes a picture of one on Instagram, the photo will “reveal special augmented reality effects that bring the holiday spirit to life” (Stories.starbucks.com). No wonder customers wait all year for these magical cups!

   For the seasonal beverages themselves, the five holiday specials are all returning drinks from previous years. Including the Peppermint Mocha, Toasted White Chocolate Mocha, Caramel Brulée Latte, Chestnut Praline Latte, and Eggnog Latte. All five are available hot, iced, or as a frappuccino. 

   The first of these to be released was back in 1986. The Christmas Coffee Blend was created two years earlier, and was combined with eggnog and milk to make the Eggnog Latte. The popularity of this beverage inspired other holiday lattes, such as the Peppermint Mocha (2002), which is arguably the most popular seasonal beverage to date. 

   The Gingerbread Latte was released two years before in 2000, but is not available in the United States in 2019. However, a quick trip across the border to Canada where the drink is being sold will satisfy your gingerbread beverage cravings. 

   I had the pleasure of tasting three of the seasonal drinks; all but the Eggnog Latte or Peppermint Mocha. 

   First, the Toasted White Chocolate Mocha. This drink is made with espresso, steamed milk, and caramelized white chocolate mocha sauce. It is decoratively topped with whipped cream and crunchy red sugar; I ordered it as a blended frappuccino beverage. 

   My first impression was that the name certainly holds true: it is very toasty. The rich mocha flavor surprised me by not being too sweet despite the caramelized sugar taste, and the milky flavors are very complementary. 

   The Chestnut Praline Latte was another holiday menu item that I tried, this time as a hot drink. It’s also made with espresso and steamed milk, but this one has a spicy chestnut syrup and praline crumbs to top the whipped cream. 

   This latte was my favorite of the bunch because it has a warm and full bodied flavor. The best way to describe it is to imagine this setting: you are sitting by a warm fire during the holidays with your loved ones all around and joy in your heart. Despite the dramatic description, this drink is similar to a cappuccino in that it is a very milky espresso, but with an added spice flavor. It embodies everything lovely about the holiday season. 

   After constantly sipping each of the drinks one after the other, they began to taste very similar. And out of curiosity, I mixed equal parts of the hot lattes together and tasted it. To my surprise, it wasn’t horrible. They complement each other nicely, each sip starting with the nutty chestnut flavor and ending with the sweet caramel taste. Whether this means that both drinks are almost the same or their flavors just fit together, regardless, it tasted like every flavor of the holidays that Starbucks customers know and love.  

    With almost two months left in Starbucks’ holiday season, there is plenty of time to enjoy any of the five seasonal beverages, and the cups they come in. Don’t forget to bring in your reusable cup to any location for a discounted holiday drink. Happy sipping!