Starbucks Corp. is adding new cold drinks to its fall lineup, a sign the beverages have become so popular customers are expected to keep demanding them as the weather turns chillier.
The coffee chain is putting an Iced Apple Crisp Oatmilk Shaken Espresso and an Iced Pumpkin Cream Chai Tea Latte on its limited-time autumn menu, which launches Thursday.
That means that three out of the company's five seasonal beverages will be offered cold by default, according to Starbucks. Customers can request hot versions of the drinks.
Demand for cold drinks has exploded in recent years, now accounting for 75 per cent of beverages sold at Starbucks, up from about 50 per cent five years ago. That may not come as a surprise to those who swear by iced coffee even in the dead of winter, but it's a big shift for the company that popularized espresso in the US and later started the pumpkin-spice craze with its latte.
"Cold is absolutely a key growth engine for us," said Thomas Prather, marketing vice president at Starbucks. "It is just about following the customer."
The new lineup coincides with the 20th anniversary of the Pumpkin Spice Latte, which was invented in a Starbucks research and development lab in its Seattle headquarters. The drink was an immediate hit and still generates buzz on social media. More than 70 per cent of consumers surveyed last year by restaurant intelligence firm Technomic said they were likely to increase their visits to the chain to get the latte.
Other major coffee chains have launched their own similar seasonal drinks. Overall, US retailers have sold about $800 million worth of pumpkin-related products, including everything from candles to doughnuts, in the year through July 29, according to market research firm NIQ.