SEATTLE — The new Pistachio Latte from Starbucks Corp. prevailed through a pandemic to arrive on the menu in 2021.
The Pistachio Latte is a spinoff of the Starbucks Reserve Pistachio Latte, which was first developed for the opening of Starbucks’ Chicago Roastery in November 2019. Jennifer Galbraith, product development manager for Starbucks, hatched the idea for the beverage when considering the popularity of the Italian cafe classic Starbucks Reserve Hazelnut Bianco Latte and exploring other nuts prevalent in Italy.
“Hazelnuts are grown in northern Italy, and some of the best pistachios are grown in the southern region of Italy,” Ms. Galbraith said. “They call them ‘green gold’ — there’s even a pistachio festival in Bronte, Sicily.”
The Starbucks Reserve Pistachio Latte, which is on the menu at Roasteries and Starbucks Reserve locations, features espresso shots paired with pistachio-infused milk warmed with a hint orange zest and finished with a sprinkle of salty-sweet pistachio topping.
“Starbucks Reserve coffee is the star of the show, and the creamy, buttery flavor of the pistachio infused milk and the salty-sweet topping of the beverage bring out the rich notes of the coffees,” Ms. Galbraith said.
The beverage performed so well that Starbucks’ beverage development team began looking for ways to bring a version of the drink to Starbucks stores last winter.
“Everything is in balance; it’s approachable but it’s also completely new. I think that’s the magic of the beverage.” — Erin Marinan, Starbucks
“When we were given the task to create a Pistachio Latte inspired by the Starbucks Reserve Roastery beverage, we started with Starbucks Espresso Roast as the foundation,” said beverage developer Matthew Thornton. “We then worked to create a Pistachio Latte that complemented all the notes of our signature espresso while giving a nod of the cap to the Roastery.”
But before the team could finish formulating the beverage, the R&D beverage lab closed at Starbucks headquarters as a COVID-19 safety precaution. So they continued to work from their kitchens at home, and Mr. Thornton conducted beverage screenings for the team 10 feet apart from TV trays set up in his driveway. Then when Mr. Thornton took time off for paternity leave in June 2020, product development manager Erin Marinan took over and saw it to the finish.
“We were mindful that pistachios can take on some different flavor profiles,” she said. “For example, spumoni ice cream can lean into a cherry, almond flavor. But, like with the Roastery beverage, this is more a true pistachio flavor; it’s earthy with slight fruity notes that are really delicate.”
The final recipe for the Pistachio Latte pairs pistachio flavor with Starbucks espresso and steamed milk and is finished with a salted brown buttery topping. The drink may be ordered hot, iced or blended.
“Everything is in balance; it’s approachable but it’s also completely new,” Ms. Marinan said. “I think that’s the magic of the beverage.”
Also joining Starbucks’ beverage lineup this season is the Honey Almondmilk Cold Brew. The non-dairy drink is made with slow-steeped Starbucks cold-brew coffee combined with honey and topped with almond milk.
Starbucks also is introducing Kale and Portabella Mushroom Sous Vide Egg Bites, featuring chopped kale and portabella mushrooms folded into cage-free eggs with Monterey Jack cheese cooked using the French sous vide technique. Joining the menu permanently, the bites contain 15 grams of protein and fewer than 250 calories.
New in the Starbucks bakery case is the Earth Cake Pop, made with chocolate cake dipped in a blue chocolatey icing and finished with green and white sprinkles to resemble the Earth.
Returning offerings include the Honey Almondmilk Flat White, which combines almond milk and Starbucks Blonde espresso with honey, and the Red Velvet Loaf, a vanilla cake swirled with red velvet cake and topped with a white chocolatey icing. The Honey Almondmilk Flat White will join the Starbucks menu permanently.