Starbucks is selling a buttload of cold drinks, and I have a theory as to why

Cold drinks made up a whopping 74% of Starbucks’ total beverage sales in the third quarter.

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Colorful Starbucks Frappucino held up over carnival background
Photo: Starbucks

This morning, we reported that Starbucks is pushing higher-end beverages (like iced and blended coffee drinks) to make up for increasing supply and labor costs. Today, we’ve got a bit more info on the phenomenon: it seems that Starbucks is successfully selling way, way more cold drinks than hot coffee. Coincidence? We think not.

Per Business Insider, cold drinks made up a whopping 74% of Starbucks’ total beverage sales in the third quarter. For context, that’s up from 64% two years ago and just 37% in 2013. In the company’s third quarter earnings call earlier this week, CEO Kevin Johnson credited the figures to demand for Starbucks Cold Brew, Nitro Cold Brew, Iced Shaken Espresso, and Refreshers. But I have another theory: TikTok. If you ask me, ’twas TikTok that launched the cold drink boom.

Johnson did say that the chain’s cold drinks were “particularly attractive to millennial and Gen Z customers.” But that statement barely scratches the surface. As we’ve reported before, TikTok-inspired drinks are regularly ruining baristas’ shifts as complicated orders from fanny-pack-wielding 19-year-olds flood into the Starbucks mobile app. One barista told Insider that they were making up to 15 iced white mochas a day (which, in case you’re wondering, cost around $7.60 each for a “grande.”)

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One Starbucks shift supervisor in Maryland also told Insider that Starbucks was becoming a “Frappuccino factory” with more and more customers ignoring traditional coffee offerings. “Starbucks is a coffee shop that is known for not making coffee,” the supervisor said. “The fact that we have this other stuff is just to appease the people who don’t like coffee who happen to be with the people who like coffee.”

Is Starbucks in bed with Big TikTok in an effort to promote bigger, richer, more expensive cold drinks and boost its profit margins? Stranger things have happened, for sure. Personally, I’m sticking with my go-to blonde roast.