After the joy of pumpkin spice season starts to fade, Starbucks gets its most devoted fans revved up again with the annual release of its holiday cups.
This year, the coffee chain is releasing four seasonal designs and they'll be returning to stores on Thursday, Nov. 7.
Starbucks says its new cups are meant to spark “mini moments of joy" throughout the 2019 holiday season.
The Polka Dots cup features green dots and mini Siren logos on a red background. Merry Dance pairs red and green letters on a snowy white cup. Merry Stripes features a pine green background with white lettering striped around the cup. Lastly, Candy Cane Stripes features red swirls, a cascade of green Starbucks letters and the chain's logo.
In addition to its new holiday cups, Starbucks is bringing back a slew of its beloved holiday drinks on Nov. 7, including the Peppermint Mocha, the Chestnut Praline Latte and the Eggnog Latte.
Along with the new cups, there's a potential source for some controversy to start brewing again. This year, the chain is doling out free reusable cups at Starbucks stores in the U.S. and Canada on Thursday to customers who order a holiday beverage. The chain offered a similar promotion when it released its holiday cups last year, but it backfired when many locations ran out of the reusable cup within minutes of opening, leaving many fans empty handed.
Starbucks’ holiday cups are part of a tradition that dates back to 1997. Each year, the cup designs are meant to tell a story about some aspect of the holiday season, from festive symbols to celebrating unity.
Here's a look back at the coffee chain's most recent holiday cup designs, from the cute to the controversial.
Starbucks debuted four different holiday designs in 2018, which was a big departure from most years that saw only one seasonal release. A take on the infamous plain red cup returned, along with a candy cane design, a green cup meant to look like a sweater and a white cup with seasonal flora and holly.
The 2017 holiday release was inspired by the surging popularity of adult coloring books. The bold design featuring outlined shapes like presents, hands, little Christmas trees and more allowed Starbucks customers to draw in their own festive scenes on the white background.
In 2016, Starbucks actually had two big cup releases around the holidays — and one actually sparked some controversy. On Nov. 1, 2016, the chain released a green cup featuring a “mosaic of more than a hundred people drawn in one continuous stroke." At the time, Starbucks said the design represented a call for unity among people from different backgrounds during a politically divisive time. However, the cup that was meant to bring people together sparked backlash among some who said the chain was attacking Christian values and promoting a liberal agenda.
About a week later, Starbucks released its official holiday cups for the 2016 season. They also promoted unity through diversity, but in a different way. The 13 designs featuring white etchings on red backgrounds were all drawn by customers from six different countries around the world.
In 2015, Starbucks faced what has arguably become known as its biggest holiday cup crisis. That year, the chain released a plain red cup with the Starbucks logo. Though elegant and streamlined, the cup faced immediate backlash from some who claimed the chain was waging a “war on Christmas.” Despite the backlash, the company stood by the cups, telling TODAY in 2015 that the "design is another way we are inviting our customers to create their own stories on our cups."