Producer’s note: Someone on Quora asked: What is it like to work at Starbucks during pumpkin spice latte and/or peppermint mocha season? Here is one of the best answers that’s been pulled from the thread.
Pumpkin Spice Latte and Peppermint Mocha seasons were some of the busiest times of year at the Starbucks I used to work at. It was interesting to see how many new people would show up just to drink one of these “delicacy” items and also see people who ordered the same thing for 300+ days a year make the switch. There wasn’t a day that passed by leading up to fall that a customer didn’t ask when the PSL would be back.
Peppermint Mocha season was always a little stranger to me. I know that the drink signifies the “red cup” and holiday season but the drink is actually available year around. The drink consists of both peppermint and mocha syrup, milk, espresso and whipped cream which are all available in stores 365 days per year. (The only thing not available throughout the year are the little red sprinkles which don’t actually add any flavor and I’d almost always forget to put on top. I think they have since been swapped out and are now topped with little chocolate droppings.) I would try to explain this to customers but it just didn’t seem to click. The drink would be ordered at a magnitude higher during the holiday season and then the minute the red cup disappeared so did the order. I still only know one person who orders a Peppermint Mocha throughout the year.
It was a fun, energetic and busy time of year with people so happy to have these drinks back in stock but I definitely would notice a shift in store environment. Retail environments are generally busier to begin with but it always seemed even a tad more chaotic with an increase of customer complaints. New and existing customers who weren’t drinking their typical coffee beverage would find these beverages too rich, too sweet, or too heavy and I’d find myself remaking drinks at a higher rate than the rest of the year.
I think the thing I loved most during this time of year were the decorations and the customer energy. The signage was always so festive, there were lights, gifts and lots of bright colors. It was always a little warmer and felt a bit cozier outside of the morning rushes. Even with some remakes here and there because customers were so excited about both drinks they were embracing the energy of the season and were more appreciative, excited, and…jolly.