July 14, 2024

Pumpkin spice revenue: how fall drinks affect Starbucks’ business

It’s October and fall is in the air, which means it’s time to fully embrace the season. For some, this may mean carving pumpkins or going to a haunted house. For many, the season means fall drinks at Starbucks.

Since its debut as a test in October 2003, the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte has become infamous in American pop culture and media. The famed drink has become the fourth most ordered drink at Starbucks, and the similar Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew ranks as the second most ordered. Since these drinks are only available for a limited time (usually early to mid August through November 1), their high demand demonstrates the power they hold over Starbucks. 

For many customers, it is a wonder if fall really is Starbucks’ busiest season.

According to Starbucks Investor Relations’s quarterly reports, the 2023 quarter three revenue is up 12% at a record $9.2 billion. This income is even higher than the 2022 quarter three revenue which was at a record (at the time) $8.2 billion.

Photo by Charlie Rinehart The Pumpkin Cream Muffin and Iced Pumpkin Cream Chai Tea Latte.

In this year’s fall season, Starbucks has increased revenue by a mere $1 billion. This increase may be due to the help of a new item on the menu: the Iced Pumpkin Cream Chai Tea Latte.

This drink is Starbucks’ newest fall drink and is quickly becoming as popular as the classic Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Kyle MacDonald, a business management major at the university and barista at Starbucks, said that either the Pumpkin Spice Latte or the Iced Pumpkin Cream Chai Tea Latte are the drinks that he has to make the most.

He also agrees that the fall drinks have a great impact on Starbucks’ business. 

“There is a huge increase in business. The fall/holiday season is the busiest time of year for Starbucks,” he said.

He suggested the reason for the increase in business may be the “aesthetic” that comes with the fall drinks, which is highly plausible.

A subgenre of YouTube and TikTok that capitalizes on the sensational pleasures of fall showcases colorful leaves, sweaters, spooky books and almost always some kind of pumpkin coffee drink.

Photo by Charlie Rinehart Mobile orders being prepared during a slow hour.

These drinks are almost always from Starbucks.

MacDonald also mentioned that people are “for sure” more apt to buy fall drinks on a colder day that feels more like fall rather than on one of the few, but not rare, 80-90 degree fall days, which again has to do with the aesthetic that is associated with the fall drinks.

Sometimes stores are so busy that they run out of ingredients to make the seasonal drinks. This can be disappointing for customers who rely on these drinks to enrich their fall day.

“We run out quite a bit, but we combat this by ordering more or by getting ingredients from lower-volume stores,” said MacDonald.

Although Starbucks’ seasonal drinks are many peoples’ favorite part of fall, it can be stressful for the workers. 

“I will always enjoy [the fall drinks], but it does get tiring making the same thing over and over.” said MacDonald.

However, there still is some joy in the work. MacDonald said, “My favorite fall drink to make is the Iced Apple Crisp Oat Milk Macchiato. It has really pretty layers and smells good too.”

Starbucks is still going strong as the fall season is at its peak right now. Enjoy these seasonal drinks to fully embrace the remainder of October.


  • Charlie Rinehart

    Charlie is a first-year Creative Writing major. In his free time he enjoys drinking iced coffee and watching terrible horror movie sequels.

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