Starbucks: Winter Edition

Ashlesha Mishra, Copy Editor

As winter comes along, it brings many annual traditions with it. From festivities to food, the months of November and December are full of celebration. Along with the countless reasons to be excited about, another thing that many people look forward to are the winter items of Starbucks.

Towards the end of every year, Starbucks launches their Winter Menu which includes several classic winter flavors. According to Taste of Home, this year, Starbucks launched their menu on Nov. 4, including the following:

  • New Sugar Cookie Almond Milk Latte
  • Peppermint Mocha
  • Caramel Brûlée Latte
  • Chestnut Praline Latte
  • Toasted White Mocha
  • Irish Cream Cold Brew
  • Christmas Decaf/Ground
  • Thanksgiving blends
  • Holiday blends
  • VIA Christmas blends
  • VIA Instant Peppermint Mocha Latte blends
  • Reindeer Cake Pop
  • Snowman Cookie
  • Cranberry Bliss Bar
  • Sugar Plum Cheese Danish

Over their first month of release, these items have gained a lot of popularity and love from their audience.

Senior Jiwan Kaur, who has been working at Starbucks since July 2021, states, “It has been really fun. Most of my coworkers are seniors from IHS or Skyline or are freshmen at college, so it has been a really fun time because we are all around the same age. There are also a lot of benefits that come with the job! You get Spotify premium, free therapy, stocks, etc. in addition to learning a bunch.” A lot of Starbucks employees are students, creating a welcoming environment for customers that age. Several students go to Starbucks before and after school, and during lunch to get food and drinks, and around this time of the year, it is common to see the winter drinks and food in the hands of students all around the school. Kaur adds that her favorite winter bakery item is “the Sugarplum Cheese Danish and the drink is definitely a chestnut praline latte!”

Starbucks’ seasonal secret menu is rather popular amongst coffee lovers. According to Business Insider, the secret menu was initially started by a “ fan-created, Harry Potter-inspired Butterbeer Frappuccino or the Cadbury Cream Egg Frappuccino.” Shortly after the attention this received, Business Insider adds, “The coffee chain announced the arrival of two new drinks centered around two of the brand’s non-dairy milk options: the Almondmilk Honey Flat White and the Coconut Milk Latte. The chain also announced that it would be expanding how many stores would carry Oatmilk… This summer, two new plant-based drinks were added to Starbucks’ menu: the Star Drink and the Iced Guava Passionfruit, which both feature coconut milk.” In this year’s winter menu, Starbucks introduced its first non-dairy coffee holiday drink, featuring “blonde espresso, sugar cookie-flavored syrup, almond milk, ice and red and green cookie sprinkles,” says Eating Well. The company has transitioned to using alternative ingredients to suit a variety of audiences. These include, “the baristas [using] 2% milk as the default on all of the traditional mochas and lattes. Opting for nonfat milk or dairy-free almond milk, coconut milk, oat milk and soy milk can trim a few calories and grams of fat.” In response to this, freshman Ananya Suthram says that this way “they can reach out to more customers and have higher sales.” By allowing customers to choose alternative options in their drinks, not only are they allowing their customers to be able to make customizations according to taste, but they are also making their items appealing to a wider group of people. Junior Divya Kandala agrees with this concept, stating that “it gives more options–like some days I only like getting oat milk lattes.”

In addition to the hype around the Starbucks winter drinks and bakery items, one thing that may be less known to the students at Issaquah High is the cup giveaway. Kaur states that the event is “one day during the holiday launch. If you purchase a holiday drink, you get a reusable red cup, while supplies last. If you have ever seen the plastic white reusable cup, which you can regularly buy for $2 at the store, it is the same thing except the cup is red and may have some holiday design on it.” Kaur finds this as an overhyped event since it can be purchased in general, but is guessing the idea that it is free is appealing. Taste of Home states, “The first cup features a wrapping paper design, with circles, sparkles and glitter, and another features the sparkles and ribbons… The next cup is covered in sparkling holiday lights with bold, graphic letters that spell out Starbucks, while the last features green, white and lilac stripes.”

Since 1971, Starbucks has grown in several ways. As an article by Mashed states, “For starting as a tiny coffee shop in Seattle that didn’t even offer brewed coffee, Starbucks has come a long way in 50 years. Now found in 80 markets with 30,000 locations, Starbucks offers so much more than coffee, with a menu that includes baked goods, wine and beer, and sugary beverages that contain no coffee at all.” After the cult-like following of the secret menus they serve, some, according to Business Insider ”have even begun showing up on the official Starbucks menu, such as Pink Drink.”

Senior Danielle Levin, a barista at Starbucks since June 2021, states, “I enjoy making the holiday drinks because they always look really pretty with the whipped cream and sprinkles and I think that there is a lot of hype surrounding them because they tap into people’s excitement about the holiday season in general.” With creative, customizable, and seasonal drinks, Starbucks has managed to develop a great market and has truly risen to the top this winter with its new items, with only a brighter future ahead. The next time you visit Starbucks, what are you going to order?

Barista Story! Kaur shares, “A lady once tried to convince me that the $10 bill she gave me at the register was worth $15.” In addition, Levin adds, “One negative interaction I remember is someone throwing their hot drink at me because I would not do something for them that would violate health code.”