Starbucks is adding four new, holiday-themed cold foams to its menu for a limited time. The new flavors — Peppermint Chocolate Cream, Sugar Cookie Cream, Caramel Brulée Cream and Chestnut Parline Cream — are available for any customer to add to their drink for an additional charge. Such charges for drink customization are an important piece of Starbucks’ revenue, accounting for around $1 billion dollars annually, CEO Laxman Narasimhan said on the company’s Q3 2023 earnings call.
Last year, in some regions outside the U.S., the chain tested a Toffee Nut Cream cold foam for its holiday lineup and offered Irish Cream Cold Brew with cold foam across its markets, but this year’s holiday-themed cold foams are a significant boost to the brand’s foam offerings. Narasimhan, on the earnings call, described cold foams as the fastest-growing category of customization for the chain.
The cold foam boom is likely driven by two interrelated market forces: A preference for customized drinks, and younger consumer’s growing demand for cold coffee. Young diners’ preference for cold coffee has helped extend pumpkin spice season ever deeper into August, and may, with the help of holiday flavors, boost demand for iced coffee in the winter.
Starbucks framed the launch of the foams as an offering targeted at consumers “who love cold coffee even on the chilliest of winter days.”
High demand for customized coffee, including cold coffees, however, has proven operationally complex for Starbucks. Complicated drink orders have put stress on workers and helped drive the ongoing union campaign at Starbucks. Such complications prompted Starbucks to begin testing a redesigned kitchen system, called the Siren System, in late 2022, and to design a handheld cold foam blender, which Narasimhan said the chain had installed in all of its stores by the end of summer 2023.
Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the cold foam flavors Starbucks added to its menu. The flavors are Peppermint Chocolate Cream, Sugar Cookie Cream, Chestnut Praline Cream and Caramel Brulée Cream.