We’ll just tell you right here and now: Starbucks is bringing back the Pumpkin Spice Latte this week, and customers can grab one starting Tuesday, August 30. It’s not coming back quite as early as it did last year (August 24), but it’s still August, man. At this point Starbucks might as well release its most divisive beverage the day after Easter.
While I kid, it sometimes does feel like a race: 7-Eleven shamelessly released its pumpkin spice drinks on August 5 this year, and Dunkin’ released its pumpkin beverages on August 17 (check out our pumpkin spice roundup for other strange and squashy announcements). As for Starbucks, well, the coffee chain is the undisputed titan of the fall flavors industry, so it can set the beat of its own drum and release the PSL whenever it feels like it. Once it does, that’s when you know fall is really here.
According to a press release sent to The Takeout, the PSL is making its return alongside its highly drinkable cousin, the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew, which marks the fourth year in a row that the latter drink is making an appearance. Also returning to the lineup is the popular Apple Crisp Macchiato, which we were huge fans of last year. In terms of edibles, here’s what’s on offer, in addition to regular year-round bakery items:
- Pumpkin Loaf (the press release cites this as a “customer favorite”)
- Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin
- Pumpkin Scone
- Owl Cake Pop (this item is brand new and, I’m assuming, contains zero owl)
When a major chain like Starbucks—the second largest chain in America—decides to bring back a highly anticipated menu item, there are many factors to consider. What date is best to re-release it? Is there a secret cabal that decides this? Does it help or hurt sales if it comes out when Mercury is in retrograde? (I still don’t know what that means, by the way.) I asked Starbucks about how the company determines the timing of the PSL’s return each year.
“We know that customers look forward to the return of fall at Starbucks each year, and as with all our seasonal menus, the exact launch date varies from year-to-year,” a representative for Starbucks said via email. I guess the answer will remain elusive for now—and that makes sense, since the coffee chain is up against so many other brands for seasonal pumpkin dominance. Staying tight-lipped about the specifics of the fall menu rollout is probably a competitive advantage.
Of course, every brand will continue to capitalize on the super-hyped pumpkin spice flavor profile at every opportunity; I’ve received press releases for pumpkin spice protein powder, pumpkin spice candles, pumpkin spice Twinkies, pumpkin spice energy drinks, pumpkin spice tea, pumpkin spice lasagna (yes, lasagna), pumpkin spice Goldfish crackers—you name it, we’ve seen it. And in many cases, tasted it. But it’s not fall until Starbucks says it is, which means come August 30, you’d better break those sweaters out of storage and prepare to go apple picking. Even if it’s still 90 degrees out. Because Starbucks is never wrong about these things.