Spicing up autumn

Image courtesy of Peet's Coffee

Today – 1 October – is International Coffee Day and I had planned to discuss initiatives by global coffee brands in this space. However, likely a result of the ongoing pandemic, it is an unusually quiet day in terms of brand promotions, initiatives or even announcements (the few news we did receive is posted on our website). While awaiting International Coffee Day news, I learned that in the United States, 1 October is also National Pumpkin Spice Day (which I had never heard of it before).

Autumn is one of my favourite seasons, but I am not a fan of pumpkin spice coffee or tea. Apparently, I’m in the minority. A new survey from Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR) found that 54% of Americans are looking forward to pumpkin spice coffee more than ever this year. In fact, recognising this, many brands launched their seasonal pumpkin spice coffees earlier this year than ever before. For example, Dunkin’s pumpkin spice line hit stores 19 August.

GMCR’s Pumpkin Spice Obsession Survey of 2,000 American workers was conducted to gain insight into America’s “obsession” with autumn and pumpkin spice flavour (I’m curious to know if pumpkin spice-flavoured coffees and teas are popular, or even available in other countries or is it just an “American thing”). According to the survey, 1 in 4 respondents are consuming more pumpkin spice coffee than last year. This year, the GMCR explored just how much the pumpkin spice obsession has grown during the pandemic, and the results revealed that:

  • 1 in 3 respondents will stock up on pumpkin spice coffee, pumpkin spice donuts, fall scented candles and more;
  • 41% say they are brewing more coffee at-home than pre-pandemic, with one-third relying more on their morning coffee routine to get them through the day;
  • Men are looking forward to the seasonal flavour trend more than women this year — nearly double the amount of men shared their intention to indulge in the flavour craze, whether it be stocking up on pumpkin spice coffee or donuts (apparently men even ranked “all things pumpkin spice” among the top three things they are looking forward to this fall, alongside football season and the change in weather).

The survey also revealed that “Pumpkin Spice Coffee Superfans” would rather give up alcohol, chocolate and their cell phone before giving up pumpkin spice coffee during the fall season. Furthermore, among these “superfans”:

  • 80% say they feel extremely sad when pumpkin spice season ends;
  • Nearly 4 out of 5 people wish pumpkin spice coffee was available year round;
  • 1 in 4 people expect more than half of their beverage and food consumption to be in seasonal flavours including pumpkin spice, caramel, maple and cinnamon;
  • 77% of people who plan to have something pumpkin spice-flavoured this season, expect it to be coffee;
  • 7 out of 10 people are planning to have pumpkin spice coffee more than twice a week.

The GMCR survey also found that coffee topped the list of the Top 10 Pumpkin Spice-Flavoured Treats and ranked eighth in creamers, while tea ranked ninth. The full list features:

  1. Coffee
  2. Cookies
  3. Cereal
  4. Marshmallows
  5. Donuts
  6. Yogurt
  7. Cream Cheese
  8. Coffee Creamer
  9. Tea
  10. Liquor

Many brands, in addition to rolling out their “PS” line early, also expanded their fall offerings. Peet’s Coffee, for example, unveiled a new Pumpkin Latte at its coffee bars and added a Maple Spice Cold Brew Oat Latte and a Maple Latte. Dunkin’s autumn array includes the new Signature Pumpkin Spice Latte (available hot or iced) and the new Chai Latte, along with returning pumpkin-flavoured coffees. PJ’s Coffee of New Orleans fall flavours include a Pumpkin Latte, Golden Latte (which has spiced brown sugar and golden turmeric syrups), Cinnamon Spice Velvet Ice and Numi Tea Shots (featuring organic teas, herbs, fruits, roots, and spices). Green Mountain Coffee Roasters has K-Cups in Pumpkin Spice and Maple Pecan flavours. And these a just a few of the companies offering pumpkin spice and other autumn flavours, either in their coffee shops or grocery/online channels.

So, it seems that for companies wanting to “spice up” sales this season, pumpkin or other fall-themed flavoured coffees and teas are the way to go.

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