Get Toasted: With Starbucks holiday drinks — and the refillable cup


Well folks, it’s that time of year again. The Halloween decorations are on clearance and Christmas music is playing again. You know what that means? The Starbucks Holiday drinks are back. Whether you are planning to skip over Thanksgiving or not, I think we can all agree with the year we all have had so far, winter holidays festivities can begin when seen fit for your lifestyle. 

Like years prior, Starbucks kicked off the Holiday season after Halloween and brought back some classic drinks, including the Peppermint Mocha and Caramel Brulée Latte.  

I went to Starbucks a little later after the holiday drinks were launched. It was nighttime, so the afternoon rush was long gone. I ordered a Peppermint Mocha and received a free refillable cup as a result of ordering a holiday drink. 

According to the Starbucks website, the Peppermint Mocha is “a delectable blend of chocolate-pepperminty perfection in every cool sip—Frappuccino® Roast coffee, mocha sauce, peppermint-flavored syrup, milk and ice, topped with whipped cream and dark chocolate curls.” Photo courtesy to the Official Starbucks website.

The cup is red and has ribbon decor printed on the cup similar to the design of a holiday sweater. Although cute and collectible for avid Starbucks lovers, to me, the promotion did not make much sense for this holiday season. 

Last year when Starbucks gave out the cups, customers were able to bring the cups to the store for discounted refills on Holiday drinks. This year, I did not see or hear anything about a holiday discount, which makes sense due to the pandemic, but discounts are nice. Why give out a promotional item with no intentions of a customer actually using it? 

You can argue that it makes people happy. Honestly, if the cup gives you a boost of serotonin, that’s totally fine. But, many of us already have a good number of reusable drinkware in our houses. I think maybe instead of giving away the cups, perhaps they can do something a little different, like perhaps a commemorative ornament/keychain that you can have on your keys for a discount or perhaps a punch card with the reward of a holiday treat or a holiday coffee sleeve that perfectly fits Starbucks iced and hot cups. It can help keep your drink hot or cold, reduce condensation for cold drinks and prevent burning yourself on hot drinks. You don’t need to refill that, plus you can easily stow it in your bag or cup holder.  

The photo depicts a visual description of the re-useable holiday cups. According to Daily Campus author Olivia Hickey, customers can receive a complimentary holiday themed re-useable cup if they purchase one of the holiday special drinks at participating Starbucks. Photo courtesy of Starbuck’s Stories webpage.

Anyway, back to the drinks. So I tried two holiday drinks within the last few days. I was optimistic going into this. I thought maybe the coffee chain would revive the gingerbread latte, which was my favorite holiday drink the chain offered. Unfortunately, it’s not available in the U.S. and due to the pandemic, I do not think I will be traveling to Canada anytime soon. Back to the Peppermint Mocha. To me, it tastes like hot cocoa with peppermint in it. It’s good and can be considered basic, but if you need a holiday pick-me-up and you’re not too adventurous, it gets the job done. 

I tried the Caramel Brulée Iced Latte a few days later. It wasn’t bad, but I remember enjoying the warm version of the drink when I had it last holiday season. Coffee was the most distinct flavor in the drink, and there was a ton of ice. If I were to get this drink again, I would stick with the warm version.  

Overall, I would give the holiday drinks a shot if you haven’t. If you’re a rewards member, don’t forget to use your app for points, especially since the holiday drinks are on the pricier end averaging over $5 for a medium (grande).  

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