Summer isn’t over quite yet, but the taste of fall is already brewing in businesses around the country.
The popularity of the pumpkin spice flavor has exploded in recent years, especially in coffee.
The Burnt Coffee Company is preparing for its second autumn since opening – and pumpkin spice is top priority.
“It definitely goes on the menu for as long as possible,” manager Kristen Johnson said.
“Our system shows exactly what drink gets sold the most,” Johnson said. “And if you look between September to October and probably going into November, it’ll be the top sold item. Even over a mocha.”
Pumpkin spice swirled its way onto the coffee scene in 2003, becoming a popular flavor pretty quickly. Now, it can be found in foods like donuts, muffins and even goldfish crackers.
The industry was valued at more than $510 million in 2019, according to recent data from Nielsen.
Businesses across the country have noticed how popular pumpkin spice is with customers and thought it made sense to start offering it earlier.
“Most coffee and coffee sales is really strong in the winter,” said Dr. Jadrian Wooten with Virginia Tech University. “October to February. And it kind of dies down in the summer. So this is an opportunity, creeping back into the summer helps sort of start those winter sales earlier.”
The Burnt Coffee Company is focusing an entire section of its menu around pumpkin spice this fall.
“Last year, I had the pumpkin spice latte on there,” Johnson said. “And then maybe one other item. I think this year, I’ll probably make like five drinks. Like a cold brew, a latte, a frappe, you know? We’ll get crazy with it.”
Pumpkin spice is available as soon as late July or early August at most coffee shops, but Wooten believes it won’t be introduced any earlier to ensure demand doesn’t peak too far ahead of fall.