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Seasonal drink epidemic arrives

A+pumpkin+chai+latte+from+Chestnut+Hill+Coffee%2C+where+the+author+works%2C+waits+to+be+enjoyed.
A pumpkin chai latte from Chestnut Hill Coffee, where the author works, waits to be enjoyed.

As soon as the end of August approaches, all of America goes into a frenzy about the one thing they have been anticipating since last year: seasonal drinks. Every day through fall and winter, I lose count of the number of people I see drinking a pumpkin-iced chai or a sugar cookie iced latte. I have always wondered about the chokehold that drinks like Pumpkin Spice Lattes and Peppermint Mochas have on Americans. Is it just a capitalist gimmick that we are all playing into? Or  truly  something that gets us in the holiday spirit? 

The Fall menu at Starbucks released on August 24th includes classics like the Pumpkin Spice Latte in addition to new drinks such as the Pumpkin Cold Foam Chai. Fall and winter drinks are not exclusively a Starbucks thing— independent coffee shops in Chestnut Hill such as Locals Coffee, Chestnut Hill Coffee Company, and High Point Cafe all have seasonal flavors on the menu. 

Tate Saywitz has been a barista at Starbucks for two years and claims that from August into the new year, seasonal drinks are a large portion of the drinks he makes each shift. “Although the winter menu is out, people are still getting the fall drinks, but I’d say it’s definitely shifting over, and we’re getting a lot of winter drinks as the holiday season approaches. The Pumpkin Spice lattes were obviously a big hit but we are getting a lot of Peppermint Mochas and Peppermint Mocha Frappucinos now.” I asked Tate if the regular customers at his location tend to stick to the usual year-round, or if they switch it up in the fall, to which he replied, “Most of them stick to the usuals. A couple of them switch it up here and there but I’d say regardless of the season, they’ll get what they like.” Coffee is not something the average person takes lightly. Your morning cup of coffee has the ability to make or break your day, so it’s natural that there are people who are creatures of habit in regard to coffee.

Curious to hear more, I spoke to the students and teachers around the school, particularly known for their love of seasonal drinks, and asked them what the appeal was. Derrick Keister, a math teacher at SCH, (who fittingly had a Pumpkin Mocha candle on his desk) shared his preferences when it comes to holiday drinks. “For fall, I like Pumpkin Spice from Starbucks, and Dunkin’ has been doing Pumpkin Hazelnut,  but in the winter, I’m a Chestnut Praline or Gingerbread latte person.” The general consensus is that people prefer the fall drinks to the winter drinks, but I spoke with Nadia Pierre, a Junior at SCH who loves Peppermint Mochas. “When they’re out, I probably drink them about twice a week, if I can afford it,” she added with a laugh.

Nadia raises a great point; in this day and age, businesses like Starbucks are charging 7-8 dollars per seasonal drink. When I asked Elizabeth Pearcy, a senior at SCH, if she would drink her favorite fall drink (a venti iced pumpkin cream chai latte with a shot of espresso) year-round, she replied “Yeah, I would. And I’d be broke.” A venti iced pumpkin cream chai latte with a shot of espresso is a whopping $8.17 including tax, and yet, people still buy them multiple times a week consistently. 

Prices in mind, if seasonal drinks were not a special treat reserved for the holiday season, would people still go crazy about them? “I would not. I am very seasonally dependent. When I drink coffee, it’s not just about the flavor, it’s about the temperature, the weather, the season, and what’s happening around you. Even right now, I wouldn’t drink Pumpkin Spice although it’s still on the menu.” says Derrick Keister. “I would probably treat myself once in a while year-round because sometimes I do get a hankering for it in the summer months, but also it doesn’t land as well in the summer. There’s this nostalgia and warm feeling that comes with the fall drink that wouldn’t be the same in the warmer months,” Janel Woodling said. 

Elizabeth Pearcy doesn’t even like drinking Starbucks outside of the fall season. “I think the reason people go crazy for it is partially that they’re good drinks, but I do think there is something to be said about the nostalgia of the drinks because I would maybe drink those pumpkin drinks in the middle of July, but I think if they were offered all year round I wouldn’t drink them as much in the fall because it’s not special anymore.”

Peppermint Mocha Frappuccino from Starbucks

“It’s appealing because it’s so limited,” said Nadia Pierre, and I would agree. It’s human nature that we are drawn to rare and novel things, even if it is something as frivolous as a pumpkin-flavored coffee drink in the fall. The comfort that specialty drinks during the fall and winter months is something that unites many and puts them in good spirits. While it seems excessive at times, these drinks provide comfort and nostalgia in an age where people need it most. So if you haven’t gotten on the seasonal drinks wave yet, don’t knock it until you try it, you might just find your holiday favorite.

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About the Contributor
Aanika Bhatt, Staff Writer
Aanika is a senior at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy. She is an avid writer, and when she's not at school, she can probably be found reading, listening to music or drinking an iced latte.
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