Starbucks to introduce the Vanilla Spice Latte next month.

Coming soon in January 2013, Starbucks will be introducing a seasonal Vanilla Spice Latte (or Vanilla Spice Frappuccino) into the beverage lineup, in their U.S. and Canada stores.  This beverage previously was a seasonal drink in the UK  and so there is a lot of information already out there about the Vanilla Spice Latte.  Straight from the Starbucks UK website, here’s a description of the new drink:

Starbucks signature espresso combined with freshly steamed milk, rich vanilla, and subtle hints of cardamom and spice. Topped with whipped cream, crushed vanilla bean and a touch of sugar.

January may spell the end of the festive season but not of the cold weather to what better way to warm up than with our new Vanilla Spice Latte. The rich  delicious aroma of vanilla and cardamom spice make the perfect partner for our caramelly espresso roast. Add freshly steamed milk and whipped cream and top with a sprinkling of crushed vanilla bean sugar. Sure to warm you up when it’s cold outside. Also available iced or blended as a Frappuccino®.

Cardamom pods are well known for their health and medicinal benefits, said to include vital vitamins such as Vitamin C and minerals like potassium and calcium.

It looks like a great beverage.  I like that it appears to be a nice variation on a basic drink, rather than introducing an overly sweet sugary drink.  I hope that there are a few readers in international markets reading this who can report on how they like it!

It’s my understanding that this new drink launches the first week of January:  I’ve heard January 3rd will be the launch date.  This is really only about two weeks away, and I am looking forward to trying it.  I do order a basic vanilla latte now and then, and so this may be something I’d like.

What do you think?


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  • Starbucks&NYKnicksGirl

    I tried this today and words cant describe how good it is. Love the new taste. Very original and authentic.

  • DadCooks

    It is sad to read so many comments by folks who do not like the new Vanilla Spice Latte.

    My personal observation is that this latte does test the makers skill and the tuning of the machine. Some of the “spices” in it may not be favorites of some folks, but if it is made with properly timed shots and properly steamed milk it should be enjoyed. Best flavor is with breve, very good with whole, okay with 2%, and awful with anything less. This drink needs the milk fat to smooth the spice and weak shots destroy it. Also, too many baristas are making more of a cappuccino (i.e., lots of foam) than a latte, that is why I say it shows the makers skill.

  • Rebecca

    Despite my initial reservations about this latte, it is selling well at my store. Having been around for several less-than-popular pushes (cocoa cappuccino, dark cherry mocha to name the worst offenders in my store anyways), I have been watching my first-time-ordering customers reaction to the drink, and so far, they are feeling the spice love. Though, nobody really loves it when we sample it, go figure`.

  • Pencil to Paper

    @Rebecca—It’s funny to me that cocoa cappuccino and dark cherry mocha did poorly at your store because those were two of my favorite promos! I still order a mocha cappuccino often, and I wish they’d bring back the dark cherry syrup! I loved it! :)

  • Hayley

    @dadcooks – maybe I’ll have to try it as a 2% latte rather than with non-fat milk. I tried it for the first time today, and excited as I was..I had a little trouble drinking the whole thing.

  • DadCooks

    @Hayley – thank you for considering my suggestion. I can understand why some people want/need to use the “skinny” options. It is just that sometimes you give up a lot in taste, so make it a special occasional treat and you will appreciate it more. I hope it works out for you.

  • Becky E

    I’ve had it twice now and like that is less sweet and lighter than my favorite mochas and caramel drinks. I like it better with food than the heavier drinks too. DadCooks, I’ve been getting it nonfat with light whip to hold the toppings but am wondering if it’d be better with 2% and no whip? Does it need the whipped cream at all?

  • Devin

    @Becky I have tried it both with whip and with foam, and the foam option tastes a lot better. Since the whip is cold, it doesn’t really give the sugar a chance to dissolve and you are left with a gritty texture. However, with the foam, the Vanilla Spice topping has a chance to meld into the top layer of the beverage and really helps give a boost to the syrup.

  • DadCooks

    @Becky E – @Devin has a good point about the foam. Personally, I think you may enjoy the flavor more with 2%. The small amount of milk fat helps to carry flavors and coat the tongue to mellow the flavor of the cardamom and the other spices.

  • Becky E

    @Devin and @DadCooks, thanks so much for the advice. I would never have thought about the foam and cold whip making a difference like that. Can’t wait to try it with 2% and no whip. Does the size of the drink make a difference too?

  • DadCooks

    @Becky E – the only difference to me regarding the size of the drink is the number of espresso shots. IIRC tall and grande are both 1 shot each and venti gets 2 shots. Both too weak for me, I like to taste the coffee so I always “add shots” (+1 grande and +2 venti) to my espresso.

    I recommend that you do not make all the changes at once. Just do the 2% with foam to start. Enjoy the experimenting, it makes life interesting :-) .

  • Devin

    @Becky Drink sizes do matter if you are going to be ordering lattes, since short (8oz) and tall (12oz) cups contain 1 shot, grande (16oz) and venti (20oz) contain 2 shots, and iced ventis (24oz) contain 3 shots, the proportion of espresso to milk will vary.

    As @DadCooks has stated earlier, the skill of the barista will come into focus more for this beverage as it doesn’t have the overt sweetness that other syrups and sauces do to mask the taste of improperly pulled shots or improperly steamed milk.

    If you are looking for a drink that will highlight the lighter flavors of the Vanilla Spice, perhaps ordering a Tall, Ristretto, no Whip, sub Foam, Vanilla Spice Latte? And as I have said earlier, subbing the 2% out with soy makes the latte taste even better IMO. =)

  • Becky E

    Wow, thanks again for so much help @DadCooks and @Devin. I’ve had this drink as a tall and as a grande, both nonfat. I felt like the tall had more coffee flavor. I’ll try it later today as a tall with 2% and no whip. It’s an interesting drink to experiment with I think.

  • Melissa

    Delicious! Different and tasty. I love the spice and how it’s not overwhelming. I can’t wait to order another.

  • Michelle K

    I absolutely enjoyed the Vanilla Spice Latte … skinny of course. :-)

  • John

    Do you know if the Vanilla Spice Latte is coming back in 2014?

  • Melody

    Hi John – No the Vanilla Spice is not coming back to the US for 2014 (though I have heard rumors that it will be an international seasonal drink in Starbucks UK. I have readers all over, so I don’t know where you are).
    In January 2014, the previous “test” beverage – Caramel Flan – becomes the national seasonal drink starting in January. – I’m always a little bit surprised when a beverage goes from test to national launch because Starbucks tests many more beverages than actually make it to national launch.

  • John

    Hi, Melody — thanks for the information. I love reading your site. I’m in Atlanta, Georgia, so unfortunately no Vanilla Spice Latte for me. I think I must have been one of the few people who enjoyed it! Looking forward to trying the Caramel Flan, but from the name alone, it sounds not so good…

  • Nichole

    This was my favorite go-to drink when I wanted something lighter than the PSL or PML. I was probably the person using up the syrup at various locations until they all finally ran out by October. I’m hoping it comes back this year, but I can’t get a definite answer! The vanilla latte just isn’t as good as this one!

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