Is Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte Coming Back Early This Year?

There comes a time in late summer when everyone starts to get sick of the season. Retailers start stocking notebooks and markers, sweaters replace tank tops in the clothing section, and slowly but surely, people begin to focus on the most important aspect of autumn: pumpkin spice.

What started out as a simple flavor addition has slowly become a bona fide retail juggernaut with Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte (that’s PSL to those in the know) leading the charge. It seems like you can sdd pumpkin spice to just about anything and it will sell. Candles? Yes. Cookies? Of course. Cleaning spray? Why not.

Is the PSL arriving early?

Thanks to the massive success, Starbucks has decided to release their popular seasonal beverage a little early this year. But don’t believe everything you read – it turns out that August 28, the anticipated launch date for the 2018 PSL, isn’t the earliest date its ever been released. In fact, Business Insider recently reported that Starbucks customers in 2014 were able to compete in an online scavenger hunt which ultimately allowed them to order their Pumpkin Spice Lattes as early as August 26.

Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte
PSL love | Starbucks via Instagram

The drink is usually released the first week of September, but that’s not a hard and fast rule. The chain has debuted their pumpkin-flavored lattes in late August several times over the past few years. Still, customers are raising their eyebrows over Starbucks’ decision to market hot beverages when summer isn’t technically over yet. So why the rush?

Starbucks is most likely trying to keep up with other restaurants and retailers who cater to customer demand. The earlier they release their money-making PSLs, the quicker they’ll start to see the financial gains from selling them. Plus, across the country kids are going back to school. Whether it’s the parents stopping by a Starbucks drive-thru on the way to drop off kids at elementary school or college students gathering for caffeine drinks between classes, new fall schedules are perfect for pushing PSLs. And those schedules start well before Labor Day.

A brief history of the Pumpkin Spice Latte

The Pumpkin Spice Latte was born in a secure research and development lab in Starbuck’s Seattle headquarters. Peter Dukes, director of espresso Americas for the company, led the team that developed the legendary PSL back in 2003. “Nobody knew back then what it would grow to be,” Dukes said in an interview. “It’s taken on a life of its own.” The PSL is Starbucks’ best-selling drink of all time.

Starbucks Coffee store
Starbucks | Fbxx/iStock/Getty Images

The recipe starts with pumpkin spice sauce comprised of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. That’s combined with espresso and steamed milk for a one-of-a-kind taste that competitors imitate but can’t quite match. The recipe has remained unchanged over the years. One fun fact? It was almost named the Fall Harvest Latte, which doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Many blame the PSL for America’s pumpkin spice obsession, which only seems to grow more pervasive with each passing year. The sheer number of pumpkin spice products makes some people laugh and others irrationally angry. But those same people should be blaming themselves – the fact is, if consumers didn’t buy pumpkin-flavored everything, then companies wouldn’t make it. As long as the PSL and other pumpkin products remain popular, retailers will keep thinking of new ways to sell them.