It wouldn't officially be the holiday season without Starbucks' festive cups. And this year, they're merrier than ever.
Beginning Thursday, customers will have their hot drinks served in one of four new festive cups that are "wrapped up like gifts for the holidays," according to a press release. This year's designs are inspired by traditional holiday motifs, including wrapping paper, ribbons on a gift box, holiday lights and a candy cane.
"This holiday, we wanted it to feel magical, we wanted it to be warm, and we wanted it to be inclusive," said Suzie Reecer, Starbucks' associate creative director. "Our goal was to really bring joy to every customer and every partner."
New this year is an iced sugar cookie almond milk latte — Starbucks' first-ever holiday beverage made with non-dairy milk. The drink mixes together sugar cookie-flavored syrup, espresso and almond milk and is shaken and served over ice. The drink is in response to the growing popularity of cold beverages, which accounted for 75% of its total beverage sales last quarter.
Traditional beverages also are back on the menu, including the peppermint mocha, caramel brulee latte and toasted white chocolate mocha. Starbucks is also adding a reindeer cake pop and bringing back other sweet treats such as a snowman cookie and sugar plum danish.
The annual celebration has become a tradition for the coffee chain and drums up excitement among its loyal customers.
Starbucks first rolled out seasonal cups in 1997. The company stirred up controversy in 2015 when it removed "symbols of the season," i.e. reindeer and ornaments, and went with a simple two-toned red cup. Since then, it has added more festive flourishes, such as ornaments and mistletoe, to its cups.
This year, the chain expects to achieve record-breaking sales and anticipates more than $3 billion will be added to Starbucks' gift cards. "We are ready for this holiday," said CEO Kevin Johnson on an earnings call last week.