A Brew for Every Season: The Impact the Pumpkin Latte has had on the Coffee Industry

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Pumpkin latte season, also known as fall, is well underway, with every coffee shop across the nation brewing beverages based on the seasonal flavor. At PJ’s Coffee, our new Pumpkin Praline Velvet Ice drink, as well as our Pumpkin Latte and Pumpkin Swirl Bread, are providing guests with their pumpkin fix. The demand for pumpkin skyrocketed when Starbucks introduced the pumpkin spice latte in 2003, and has increased every year. Coffee shops that didn’t create a pumpkin-flavored coffee drink were left out in the cold.

Since the pumpkin trend took hold on consumers, the craving, and therefore spending, on products made with that flavor, begins well before fall. Both Dunkin’ and Starbucks brought back their pumpkin spice lattes at the end of August, a month before autumn officially began on Sept. 23. And, spending for all food products with the flavor is on an upward trend – $6.3 million in the fourth week of August 2017 and $7.3 million that same week in 2018.

Clearly, pumpkin-flavored beverages have had a major impact on the coffee industry. The flavor is so popular, it has outgrown its seasonal designation. But, like all flavor trends, this one will cool down at some point – although not disappear. In the meantime, PJ’s Coffee franchisees are capitalizing on the flavor craze, while also offering other coffee beverages befitting the season.

PJ's Coffee fall LTOs

When Flavor Trends Wane

Trends need to be reinvented to remain relevant.

We continue to offer our traditional Pumpkin Latte, but in order to keep the pumpkin Ntrend going, we introduced the Pumpkin Praline Velvet Ice this year. The flavors of fall – pumpkin, praline and caramel – are offered in a cool and creamy iteration of the autumn classic.

But, because food sales account for 20 percent of our franchise locations’ sales, it made sense for us to introduce a fall flavored food that pairs well with any of our beverages. Building on the popularity of pumpkin spice, we offer Pumpkin Swirl Bread.

However, the longer a trend continues, the greater the risk of burnout. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Where fall beverages are concerned, it opens the door for other products with autumn flavors to enter the seasonal favorite fray. Besides, offering another option with different fall flavors can capture consumers who are not fans of pumpkin spice to begin with.

While pumpkin spice will likely remain a favorite among consumers, its popularity is showing signs of slowing down. That means there’s an opportunity for another coffee beverage to rise to the top – and we’re already serving an alternative.

Our Bananas Foster Cold Brew Iced Latte makes an appearance every fall and is a nice alternative to pumpkin spice lattes. Bananas Foster is also a New Orleans favorite. The traditional autumn flavors of cinnamon, brown sugar and caramel combined with bananas and ice cream provide a refreshing change from pumpkin spice while still hitting the seasonal mark.

PJ's Coffee Bananas Foster coffee

Seasonal Trends Scrutinized

It’s important to take advantage of flavor trends as soon as possible so franchisees can boost their revenue. However, before introducing a new beverage that meets the demand generated by the trend, some analysis must be performed.

We don’t rush in. We make sure we are introducing a new product that answers demand at the right time. There has to be the right amount of momentum. Introducing a new product too early in the trend’s life is risky. What if that trend ends tomorrow? All the development and training will then be for naught. The same experience can happen if you roll out a new product at the tail end of a trend.

It’s also important to differentiate. We put our own spin on trends so that our coffee beverages stand out and above the competition, while still satisfying flavor yearnings caused by trends.

When you become a PJ’s Coffee franchisee, you can be confident our seasonal offerings meet trend demands at the right time so you can generate as much revenue as possible in the autumn, winter, spring and summer.

Are you ready to join the team of a well-established coffee shop franchise? Contact us today to learn more about franchise opportunities with PJ’s Coffee.