Celebrating Best 20 Years Of Pumpkin Spice Latte

Starbucks is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL) by bringing it back to select North American locations starting on August 24, 2023.

Introduction – Pumpkin Spice Latte

What is Pumpkin Spice Latte?
A pumpkin spice latte (PSL) is a coffee drink made with a mix of traditional fall spice flavors (cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove), steamed milk, espresso, and often sugar, topped with whipped cream and pumpkin pie spice.

The beverage is most commonly associated with Starbucks, which first offered the drink in the fall of 2003. The popular flavor has inspired a wide range of product variations that appear on a seasonal basis.

Here are the ingredients of PSL:


Steamed milk

Pumpkin spice sauce

Whipped cream

Pumpkin pie spice

The pumpkin spice sauce is made with sugar, condensed skim milk, pumpkin puree, coloring, and preservatives. The spices in the sauce are cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.

The PSL is typically served hot, but it can also be served iced. It can be customized with different types of milk, such as almond milk or oat milk, and different types of sugar, such as sugar-free syrup.

Who invited the Pumpkin Spice Latte?
PSL was invented in 2003 by Dave Olsen, a beverage developer at Starbucks. Olsen was inspired to create the drink after seeing the success of the company’s other seasonal beverages, such as the Peppermint Mocha and the Eggnog Latte.

Dave Olsen spent over 27 years at Starbucks creating some of the most iconic drinks for the brand. One of the most popular is the Pumpkin Spice Latte (Source: Starbucks)

Olsen wanted to create a drink that would appeal to customers who were looking for a seasonal treat, but who also wanted something that was not too sweet or heavy. He experimented with different combinations of spices and flavors and eventually landed on the perfect recipe.

20th Year Celebration

Starbucks introduced the Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL) in the United States in 2003. It was first available in select stores in Washington, D.C., and Vancouver, Canada. The drink was an immediate hit, and it was quickly expanded to all Starbucks stores in the United States.

Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte commercial from 2011 Source: YouTube

Here is a table showing when the PSL was introduced in different countries:

20 Years of Pumpkin Spice Latte
The Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL) is back for its 20th anniversary, marking the unofficial start of fall for many customers. The iconic beverage is made with Starbucks Signature Espresso and steamed milk, with the celebrated flavor combination of real pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. It is topped with whipped cream and pumpkin pie spices.

In addition to the PSL, Starbucks is also introducing two new seasonal beverages this year: the Iced Pumpkin Cream Chai Tea Latte and the Iced Apple Crisp Oatmilk Shaken Espresso. The Iced Pumpkin Cream Chai Tea Latte is a creamy chai tea latte that pairs a rich blend of spiced chai notes with pumpkin cream cold foam and a dusting of pumpkin spice. The Iced Apple Crisp Oatmilk Shaken Espresso combines Starbucks Blonde Espresso with notes of apple, cinnamon, and brown sugar, shaken together and topped with oat milk for a smooth and balanced sip that is full of fall flavor.

New beverages celebrating Pumpkin Spice Latte’s 20th anniversary (Source: Starbucks)

Starbucks is also bringing back some of its fan-favorite seasonal beverages, including the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew, Apple Crisp Oatmilk Macchiato, Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin, and Owl Cake Pop. The fall food and beverages are available for a limited time, while supplies last.

For the first time, Starbucks Reserve locations in the U.S. will introduce the Starbucks Reserve® Pumpkin Spice Latte, and a full fall menu, including the new Pumpkin Spice Whiskey Barrel-Aged Iced Latte and Pumpkin Spice Espresso Martini. New artisanal Princi bakery items include a Pumpkin Maritozzo and Pumpkin Spice Cake.

Cultural Phenomenon

PSL is a major event for Starbucks and its customers. The beverage has become a cultural phenomenon, and its release each fall is eagerly anticipated by many. Starbucks is hoping that the new and returning seasonal beverages will help to make this year’s fall season even more special.

Since its introduction, many other cafe brands also offered their own version at around the same time as Starbucks to capture the public’s demand for the drink. The drink and the associated fall line of products contribute up to 10% of Starbucks’ yearly revenue figure.

Customer Experience and Revenue

Introducing PSL to its yearly calendar allows Starbucks to capitalize on the media coverage throughout the Fall season. This is the perfect time for the coffee chain to engage consumers with new customer experiences (including food products, beverages, and accessories) in an effort to boost revenue.

This is a classic way for brands to use an event to build and extend their relationship with customers. The goodwill and association gained from a yearly rollout provide brands with more alternatives to cross-sell and upsell other products concurringly.

Otherwise, brands should be aware not to over-extend that goodwill. Customers will be wary and build distrust if they believe they are trying to scam them through something they love. Additionally, trust will be lost if the initial product’s quality is diminished.

This expands to products that are marketed to be “pumpkin-spiced” in the quest to build on the fanfare. Note from the video below that many of the “pumpkin-spiced” items didn’t smell or taste, as expected.

There are more than 100 pumpkin spice-related food products alone! (Source: YouTube)

Venn Diagram and Pumpkin Spice Latte

In honor of Starbucks’ announcement of the expansion of Pumpkin Spice Latte season, DeAnn created this original Venn diagram which underscores why this can be a difficult time for those of us who don’t care for the PSL. How many pumpkin spice-related products do you use over the Fall season?

Pumpkin Spice Latte related Venn Diagram about the product (Source: DeAnn Campbell)

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