What’s new at Starbucks: January 2013 – Blonde & Vanilla

I probably have a few readers who haven’t been in Starbucks since the January promo launch, so I thought I would do a run down of what’s new.  The January emphasis is on the blonde roast profile coffees, and vanilla flavors.  The Vanilla Spice Latte is the current seasonal beverage.  I think the new set up is very pretty, and I love the signage for the blonde promotion.  And honestly, blonde coffees aren’t my favorite.  But the launch has its own elegance.

I like that there are the cute 8-ounce stainless steel tumblers.  And the orange/yellow tumblers are very pretty!  The sticker on them says that they are made in the USA.  There is a new blonde small tote bag, and other cute items like a sugar and creamer holder.  Take a look:

The three coffees featured in the store’s coffee baskets are Pike Place Roast, Veranda, and Verona.  And there is a basket with a Valentine’s Day mug too:

I want to mention just a couple more things.   For readers who haven’t heard about it, I want to mention that there is a promotion right now called “Healthy Options” and you earn a bonus star when you order a handcrafted beverage and an oatmeal in one transaction.

I tested it out by ordering a plain tall latte and an oatmeal together, and indeed I received an extra star.  Of course, you can order any handcrafted espresso beverage that you like – though I think the promotion is intended to highlight “skinny” drinks as a healthy option when ordered with the new oatmeal.

Also new for this launch, there is a cheesecake brownie.  I’ve tried it.  It’s pretty good!  It’s very rich, but it’s a fine dessert!  If you want healthy, look the other way!

I also want to say a huge congratulations to the store manager of this store – the Olive Way Starbucks.  She has been selected to go to Costa Rica on a Starbucks origins trip.  This is the coolest thing ever.  Every year, Starbucks selects store partners to send on trips to coffee growing farms.  It’s very hard to get selected, and so it’s exciting to know that Gayle is going.  She is totally wonderful.  She’s been a Starbucks partner since the 1990s, and if anyone deserves to go, it’s Gayle.  Congrats!

Just a few more photos:

CORRECTION on January 7, 2013, at 8:40 a.m.:  As per an email from an official Starbucks spokesperson, a customer receives a bonus star when ordering Perfect Oatmeal, Refreshers, or a skinny handcrafted beverage.  There is no special combination required.

(I still don’t know exactly how long the Healthy Options bonus stars promotion is scheduled to last.  Will provide that update as soon as I know more.)


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  • Leslee

    Happy New Year Mel!!!

    I tried the Vanilla Spice Latte and LOVED it!!! Only downsize is that it isn’t sugar-free, but for a treat I will enjoy the sugar!!! :-)

    The reusable cups FINALLY made their way to California last week… I was definately a trend setter and the barista’s were all a flutter when I brought mine in before they rolled out here.

  • Sandra Trolinger

    I tried the Vanilla Spice Latte and I liked it but I would have added another shot as the coffee was not as strong as I would have liked. I plan on trying another one this week and seeing if a different store makes them better. 😉

  • purple1

    I like the signage for the new promo for the blonde roast coffee. I do find it funny the valentine’s mug with the & on the outside. It took us a bit to realize the connection between this symbol and the inside wording of the cup. Not totally sure how that fits into SB. Also, am a bit surprised but is it a bit earlier than usual to already have valentines day items out?

  • Monica Dillow

    I plan to try the new Vanilla Spice Latte this week and since it’s a bit warmer in Jersey right now I am going to try it cold! I know sometimes I don’t care for something hot but find I really enjoy cold. Will let you all know on Melody’s Facebook page. Thanks for the info on the Healthy Promotion.

  • denise r

    Well, I think I already expressed my sentiments regarding this ‘rollout’ in the last thread about oatmeal. While the signage may be ‘pretty’ it just, imo, doesn’t fit the month of January, which does include their Valentine’s day focus…. or, lack of. There used to be so many beautiful cups and merchandise and chocolate, etc. I realize this may appeal to plenty of people who especially like this kind of coffee, (light) so Sbux is getting all those customers they never would’ve had otherwise. But, that process really began back in 2008 with the ever-present-PPR.

    One thing I’d like to clear up: it seems a bit deceiving to call this a ‘bonus’ star that you get with the bar drink and oatmeal in one transaction. Obviously, you’d get the same two stars (or, one for each transaction) if you asked it be rung individually. I think the bonus part goes to the partner on the register who doesn’t need to go thru two separate ring-ups, and maybe to the customer who, for whatever reason, finds it not worthwhile to ask for items to be charged separately. Maybe I’m reading something incorrectly, but that’s what it sounds like to me.
    And as far as “healthy options”? As Melody alluded to, maybe Sbux means ‘get a skinny……whatever’….but apparently that’s not what the requirement is. So, am not sure where the ‘healthy’ part comes in, except obviously oatmeal may be one of their better food choices.

  • Melody

    Denise, I’m on my phone, literally on my way to work, sorry short & sloppy. First, totally agree, mugs of the 1990s era of Starbucks were generally way more amazing than now. Second, I have an incorrect description of healthy options bonus stars. I just received an email from an official Starbucks spokesperson. I will fix at work as soon as I can.

  • Kurt

    And the first part of the correction Melody will post will be that you seem to get a bonus star if you just order the Oatmeal and Blueberries. (No Bonus star for just ordering Blueberries I found out.) And we excitedly await the rest of Melody’s details.

  • The Kwan

    Happy New Year, Melody!

    Hope 2013 is even happier, healthier, and more successful for you.

    I was scanning the online store today and they’ve added a new coffee canister that I think looks pretty cool [http://www.starbucksstore.com/starbucks_stainless_steel_coffee_canister/011021892,default,pd.html?cgid=apparel]
    and a sugar and creamer set.

    [P.S. – You may have written about this already, but there were two fresh salads at my local store – Cobb and chicken (Caesar?)
    – There’s a promo for blonde brewed tall http://blonde.starbucks.com/, requiring facebook].

    All the best to you, and thank you for your wonderful blog!

  • Melody

    I need to look at that Facebook promo still, when I’m home later on today.

    @TheKwan -Thanks for the happy new yaer’s! Hey, would you send me photos of the salads at your Starbucks? I haven’t seen salads, and I wonder if that is a test item. Melody at StarbucksMelody dot com. Thanks!

  • Becky E

    I love the new bright and cheery display. Might look more like a spring promotion but in winter it’s okay with me. I bought the new blonde roast mug. It’s more like a small soup bowl but I love the sunflower painting on the inside. I’ll be getting the Guatemala Antigua mug too. The inside color is really beautiful. It’s nice to see new merchandise in the stores right after Christmas and the signage is uplifting. I don’t care for the Valentines Day mug though. Thanks for the heads up on the Healthy Options bonus star, Melody. Yesterday my daughter ordered the oatmeal and today I told her to check her stars to see if she had received a bonus one and she did. YAY!

  • Devin

    Hmmm… I didn’t know about the Healthy Option reward bonus either, thank you for the heads up Mel!

    And btw, I love the new canisters that TheKwan was referring to! They have a chalkboard face allowing you to notate the type of coffee held within the container as well as the date it was opened. What adds to the awesomeness is the included scoop that fits on the side of the container. It is the same scoop used at our stores, and needless to say, I picked up two for myself. =)

  • Suzanne C

    I agree with Becky E that the blonde display is very bright and cheery, especially during the drab month of January.

    The 8 ounce stainless steel tumblers are cute, can’t imagine using one though, they seem so small. I adore a yellow mug that I see there, yellow on the outside and almost a sunflower pattern on the inside.

    Enjoying the blonde roast, a lighter taste for my afternoon pick-me-up.

  • Chgo.

    Blondes…. Egads….
    Brunette color or darker please!

  • Jordan

    I’m actually drinking my first cup of Vanilla Spice Latte as we speak. Not really the taste I was expecting. I’m not really sure how I feel about it in general. As far as drinks after the holidays go, I might just stick to Dark Roast coffee. The VSL is too light and sweet for me, and while I used to drink Caramel Lattes like it was my job, I’m just gonna stay with regular coffee for a while. Oh well.

  • Rebecca

    I *love* this rollout, and I don’t love blonde. Like, at all. Like most here it seems, I favour the bold :) However, my parents, my grandma, several of my coffee-shy friends *do* like the blonde, and therefore, I am OK with it taking it’s place in the lineup. Just don’t get rid of my fave Sumatra, and I’m good :) My favourite thing is the shelves that are dedicated to blonde, medium, and dark. Such a great way to highlight the coffee, and help people differentiate between the different roasts, instead of a wall of coffee. I also like that the different forms of coffee are grouped together – like Sumatra? Get it decaf, regular, or K-cup. French? Via or whole bean. Etc.

    Vanilla spice is doing well at my store (despite the fact that I’m the *only* partner that likes it as a latte), and some of the merch is really great – much better than I’m used to for a January rollout, in my opinion/memory. Love the creamer/sugar set, and the sunflower mug, as well as the stainless steel travel press mug, and the Guatemala Antigua coffee mug. Also really like the “&” mug, but since I have no one to be an “&” with, it seems a little weird. :)

    No ‘Healthy Options’ bonus star in Canada :(

    Reusable mugs are a big win (my partners are having a BLAST with coloured sharpies and making their cups unique), and I’ve been trying to sell my customers on a reusable sleeve to go with their cup to further reduce their environmental impact :) My sister gifted me with a crocheted sock monkey sleeve from Etsy for Christmas, so it’s quite the conversation starter with customers as I’m getting my drink or waiting in line to pay.

  • ensanguin

    I’ve had two of the vanilla spice lattes this week, and I really enjoy it. I picked up a pound of the blonde roast for my weekend guests, and they loved it. I brewed it using the pour over method / system that I picked up from my local Starbucks, which I gave to my guests to keep.

    I also checked out the new classic (oxymoron!) oatmeal with my standard toppings of two nuts, one brown sugar, no fruit, no water (I add the water when I get to work). It was pretty tasty, but I didn’t notice any pepitas. Maybe they were paring down some inventory. I’m sure I’ll have it again soon. I did receive a bonus star for my oatmeal purchase, which I thought was pretty nifty.

    I posted a link to your FB wall regarding the blonde coffee promotion. When you click the link, you will be directed to input your email address. They then send you an eGift card via email for the purchase of a tall blonde roast coffee. However, you can link the eGift card to your registered account (which I did, so I know it works), and a balance of $2.60 will show up on the registered eGift card. You CAN transfer the money to your usual card (which I did, so I know it works). I may or may not get the coffee all sugared up, or I may put it towards a vanilla spice latte (I’m naughty!)

  • Chgo.

    I finally sampled the VS Latte yesterday morning, and have mixed feelings about it. It tasted okay, but then there is something about the flavor that comes out and lingers and I didn’t like that. It’s probably the Cardamon. I like to really smell things while I’m drinking them (like wine), to really sense the smell and the taste (flavors) together. I don’t know why, but I thought that it smelled liked some of that stuff my daughter buys from Lush. In other words, it taste like it smells….. I thought it was aromatic but tasted like soap???? Maybe???? I have walked into that store Lush, and picked up different items just to smell them. When you walk out of such a place (at least for me) the smell kind of stays with you, and sometimes…… You can actually start to taste it. That’s what the VS Latte reminded me of. So I guess what I’m saying is that it would make for one heck of a nice smell for ladies! Maybe a VS Latte bath bomb or soap? LOL!!! Anyway…. That’s how I felt after walking out of Starbucks about it.

  • Melody

    I have a number of replies I want to make, but just quickly, I noticed in my own rewards thta the “Healthy Options Bonus Stars” has been renamed “January Bonus Stars.” Indeed, I have gotten quite a few bonus stars – well, I do like the new oatmeal, and I like the Refreshers a lot.

    It makes me wonder if there will be bonus stars through the month of January. If so, that would be amazing.

  • Melody

    @Ensanguin – I didn’t see a link to the FB promotion on the StarbucksMelody.com wall – I will go look on my personal wall.

  • Michelle

    Chgo – I think the VSL smells like lemon pledge. :)

    I love the look of the mug that is round with the pretty glaze on the inside. As my store is a solo store, I do not have it. The couple of times I’ve been in other stores since the launch, I was in and out so quickly I didn’t even look around! (dropping product off, etc..) I must have one of those gorgeous mugs though, so I’ll have to make a point of stopping at a store with more merch soon.

    I read an email today that talks about some really cool promotions for Canada coming up for the end of January and February regarding blonde. I think they’re going to be a big hit with people!

  • Chgo.

    @Michelle – LOL! – That’s a good one!

  • theatrenut

    Well, the “bonus star” email was really confusing, in my opinion. It says: “Earn a Bonus Star with the purchase of Skinny Espresso Beverages, Oatmeal, and Starbucks Refreshers” then pictures and descriptions of those items.

    I can’t see where it answers the question … What do I have to buy to get a bonus star? One item, one of each, some combination …

  • Melody

    @Theatrenut – You got an email on the January Bonus Stars? I don’t recall ever seeing one. I still don’t know how long it’s officially supposed to last, but at this point, I will assume the whole month. No special combination is required. One oatmeal is two stars. One Refresher is two stars. One skinny latte is two stars. If you start adding them together in the same transaction, I assume you get more … so one skinny latte and one oatmeal should be four stars. But I haven’t tested that out, so I can’t say that for certain!

  • theatrenut

    I should have mentioned it also says: For MSR members only, through January 20.

  • Chgo.

    @Melody – I just received the same email about the Jan. Bonus Stars less than an hour ago. It’s only thru Jan. 20th. I will send the email I received to your email address.

  • Chgo.

    Ooops! I didn’t see theatrenut’s last comment.

  • Jess

    How curious- I’ve been telling everyone about this since Monday. I tested it out on my gold card and Monday and Tuesday got my Blueberry Oatmeal star and my January Bonus star. Today, same purchase, just one star. No January bonus…..We’ll see if it comes through tomorrow? I also have not received any promo emails on this. I did get an Evolution Fresh thing today….

  • Melody

    @Jess – I got the Evolution Fresh email too! That I will use!
    @Chgo – Thanks for sending me the email. Oddly, I didn’t get the bonus stars email.

  • Bec

    I have a friend that likes the blond coffee. She says it’s not too strong for her.

    I’ve tried the Vanilla Spice Latte and was disappointed. The combination just didn’t seem to blend well to me.
    I love vanilla latte’s and was hoping that the spice would make it extra delicious.

    One thing that has always bothered me is that the specialty drinks always cost 40-50 cents more then the other drinks. If i buy a peppermint mocha in July, it’ll be cheaper then if I buy it in December. Same drink, different season.

  • Xiom

    can someone please foward me the bonus star email?

    thanks :)

  • denise r

    @Xiom: I just fwded that email to Melody this morning so I assume she can send it to you. (there are a few restrictions and it ends on Jan. 20th.

  • theatrenut

    Gee, Starbucks sent me a second Bonus Star email yesterday and this morning there was yet another (Correction:) email in my mailbox. I still think it’s confusing to just say “Earn a Bonus Star with the purchase of …” then list the plural forms of the eligible items, and no further explanation.

    If it’s for each, why not say it?

  • denise r

    @theatrenut: I recvd those same 3 emails (I fwded them all to you Melody). My understanding of the ‘bonus star’ promo is that one does earn an extra *star* for any one (or all) of those items. The correction I recvd was for a wrong (significantly) price listed for the new oatmeal.

  • Greg Yamane

    Just an FYI but I’ve been getting the Vanilla Blonde coffee combo for free with the special January tumbler. I’ve even made changes to the drink and gotten those free as well (added pumps of caramel, shots of espresso, etc.). Not sure if this is standard or just an oversight, but it’s been great!

  • calwatch

    I can confirm the barista at a local Starbucks (Ontario CA) said that free shots, vanilla, etc. come with the free tumbler drink. I often get decaf Americanos or pourovers after hours with the tumbler. Also here is the Fatwallet thread on this, which also includes a $1 off espresso coupon: http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/hot-deals/1250757/

  • Melody

    @CalWatch – That’s remarkable. I know it works for hot brewed coffee, iced coffee, and hot tea, but I don’t think it works on iced tea! Actually, iced coffee with an add shot can be very nice! I guess the tumbler is intended to cover the Blonde with Vanilla flavor promo, all those who like syrups in coffees, and all the coffee drinkers who add a shot.

  • calwatch

    Back when they were doing free syrups for gold members I never thought of adding syrups to drip. Nor have I ever thought of adding espresso to drip… Starbucks regular has enough caffeine for me already. Adding espresso just thought like over kill.

    The one benefit dropped in the Gold “downgrade” I do miss was the free soy for my misto, which I would used to get every time I’d go to Starbucks. Since then I’ve moved down to drip, or the occasional two step of coffee, then refill and scone for the extra star.

  • Greg Yamane

    calwatch, thanks for verifying! I never added syrups to drip before the vanilla blonde promo. Though I have gotten a red eye and dead eye before 😉

  • Melody

    Today I discovered that there are still some downtown Seattle partners who have no idea that iced coffee is included.

  • Melody

    My mistake! The tumbler does not work for iced coffee!

  • Melissa

    Is there a glitch with the bonus star promotion or did Starbucks extend the date it ends? The email I received said the bonus star promo ended Jan 20 (which is when the new Great and Powerful Oz promo started). My drink is the skinny caramel macchiato which I order like clockwork everyday and I have been receiving bonus stars every single day past Jan 20th (not that I am complaining). My “Oz promo” star count (collect 10 stars between Jan 20 and Jan 29 and receive a free drink) is complete due to the double stars. If its a glitch, I’ll take it! If they extended the original promo, I’d like to say thanks Starbucks in, I have been banking the free drinks and I have managed to get 5 free drinks in the last month :)

  • Ben


    I noticed the same thing tonight when I looked at my stars (including getting 4 yesterday alone for getting a Skinny VL and oatmeal)…seems like it might be a glitch (having it end right as Oz begins seemed purposeful), but I’ll take it!

  • calwatch

    Today, on the very last day, I discovered that you can actually get a misto with the free tumbler. I never thought of that! I tried out some teas – a few baristas apparently had never rung up the tea with the code and were surprised that it went through. The total count for the month was about 45 visits (I skipped a few weekend days, doubled up some weekdays, and lent the tumbler to my dad when visiting my folks). While $20 was a steal, if Starbucks does it again $30 is a fair price point. It covers the average user while not taking a bath on the frequent person.

    Last year I made gold with all the food I bought while using the tumbler, but this year I only earned six stars during the month from buying food – I will probably earn most of my stars during frappy hour like I did a few years ago.

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