Starbucks has a new beverage joining its fall lineup alongside the Pumpkin Spice Latte.
On Saturday, September 3, customers can begin ordering Starbucks’ Chile Mocha, the coffee giant’s new seasonal beverage. While Starbucks will begin promoting the drink to Rewards loyalty members on Saturday, the drink officially launches on Tuesday, September 6 — the same day as the Pumpkin Spice Latte’s official launch.
The drink is topped with cayenne, ancho chile, paprika, cinnamon, sea salt, and a little sugar. It’s a mix of sweet and spicy that’s reminiscent of Mexican hot chocolate, but the level of spice isn’t overwhelming.
Baristas create the Chile Mocha by topping espresso with a blend of cocoa powder and spices steamed together with milk. The use of cocoa powder, instead of syrup like the traditional Starbucks’ mocha, creates a lighter and more subtly sweet chocolatey drink, superior to the original mocha.
Starbucks created the Chile Mocha after the coffee development team decided to double down on the “spice” aspect of the Pumpkin Spice Latte.
“Our customers expect Pumpkin Spice every year… but we also need to continue to innovate,” Mackenzie Karr, a coffee education specialist at Starbucks, told Business Insider. “We’ve kind of taken the PSL, and taken the S and really blown it up.”
While seasonal beverages are an expected part of Starbucks’ rotating menu, new fall drinks at the chain have an impressive legacy to live up to. The Pumpkin Spice Latte is Starbucks’ most popular seasonal beverage ever, with a reputation that only grows year after year.
When developing new beverages, Starbucks is forced to consider how they might measure up to the PSL.
“I think if we ever developed something as iconic as the pumpkin spice, that would be a huge thing to celebrate,” says Karr. “But, I think that a lot of our [limited-time offerings] go with the trends — what people are talking about, what people are doing. I would love for this to be iconic, but you know, maybe next year there will be something completely different that people are interested in.”
The Chile Mocha is the “hot friend” to the Pumpkin Spice Latte’s “bae,” says Karr — an exciting newcomer tagging along with customers’ long-term lover. If the Chile Mocha can reach Pumpkin Spice Latte levels of adoration, that would be great, but Starbucks wouldn’t mind if customers just want a fall fling with the new drink.