The spirit of the season tastes a lot like…a Christmas tree?
Starbucks’ red cups and whip cream-topped drinks are here, marking the official start of the holiday season. With each sugary sip of Gingerbread Latte or Peppermint Mocha, Starbucks promises to conjure up sweet memories of sleigh rides, the sound of footsteps crunching on snow, chestnuts roasting by an open fire, Jack Frost nipping on your nose, Yuletide carols… et cetera, et cetera. You know how it goes.
Starbucks’ newest holiday offering, however, targets a very specific scent memory: the Christmas tree. The Juniper Latte features an “evergreen aroma combined with tingly sage,” and uses flavours of sweet mandarin and mulled spices to bring you back to a time of walking through the woods and trimming down a pine tree. Which means it smells a lot like gin. Or, as one coworker eloquently put, “it kind of tastes like someone soaked an air freshener in this.”
That sounds like a damning reaction, but the woody-flavoured-hot-milk-coffee is actually pretty good. Unlike most of Starbucks’ special edition drinks, the Juniper Latte doesn’t taste like it’s filling your recommended daily serving of sugar. It’s subtle, savoury and it does have a distinctive sharp taste of pine. What could be more festive that sipping on a Christmas tree? Plus, it comes served in one of Starbucks’ signature holiday cups. And this year, carrying that cup around won’t cause any unwelcome disagreements.
As you may recall, Starbucks’ holiday cups, whether they’re filled with black coffee or a tree-tasting latte, have a long history of stirring up controversy. With their festive—or not festive enough—designs, they’ve become a proxy for American values. Weird, I know. But hey Twitter haters, just try getting upset over this year’s inoffensive retro designs! According to marketing material, “each draw inspiration from blending traditions and styles with the common goal of bringing people together.”
They’re cute enough to collect—but Starbucks is hoping you won’t get the chance to. On November 2, Starbucks launched a limited edition iconic Reusable Red Cup, and while supplies last, they’re giving the cup to customers for free when they purchase a holiday beverage. Saving the planet and celebrating the spirit of the season is reason enough to get behind the campaign, but if you need further convincing, hear this: Starbucks is giving 50 cents off all holiday beverages purchased using a Reusable Red Cup after 2 p.m. Which means that your daily $5.00 afternoon Gingerbread latte should cause 10% less guilt—or something like that.