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Friday, May 24, 2024

‘We just can’t keep up’: Starbucks stores across Gainesville undergo a pumpkin spice crisis

Several local Starbucks stores, partners experience shortages of fall products in wake of release

A sign of fall drinks stands in the Starbucks @ The Hub on UF's campus on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023.
A sign of fall drinks stands in the Starbucks @ The Hub on UF's campus on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023.

The end of August is a time long awaited for many devout disciples of the Siren’s empire.

As soon as the pumpkin spice lattes, cold brews and chai teas grace the menus of Starbucks stores worldwide, fans come running to get their hands on the new beverages synonymous with the fall season until there are none left. 

Jay Boykin, a 23-year-old Starbucks barista, knows all too well of what is to come every year when the fall lineup releases in stores. As social media blows up in a frenzy over the fall flavors of pumpkin spice and apple crisp, lines at the nearest Starbucks stores grow longer and longer. 

“This is the trend right now,” they said. “This is what everyone thinks of when they think of fall.” 

Boykin said everyone thinks of fall so much so that the pumpkin and pepita loaf, a year-round item in stores, is ordered far more during Starbucks’ fall season because “it’s pumpkin time.” 

Since pumpkin spice and other fall flavors were released in stores Aug. 24, many Starbucks locations across Gainesville and UF have experienced significant shortages of syrups on several occasions, according to employees and customers.

In addition to its popularity among students and locals across the city, pumpkin spice products experienced delayed delivery to Gainesville locations due to the onset of Hurricane Idalia, Boykin said. With the combination of these two factors, it was only a matter of time pumpkin spice would become scarce. 

“We have to have way more people scheduled during pumpkin spice time,” Boykin said. “We just can’t keep up.” 

Kaylie Coatney, a 21-year-old UF industrial engineering senior, always looks forward to the fall in anticipation for the pumpkin cream cold brew to hit local Starbucks stores. 

“It’s my very, very favorite,” she said. 

The Marston Science Library on UF’s campus is one Starbucks location Coatney frequents as a student of the university. In light of the release of the fall menu items, she could not have been more ready to race to the front of the line for her favorite beverage. 

But upon her attempt to mobile order through the Starbucks app, she was disappointed to find the coveted cold brew was, once again, out of stock. 

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“[Marston] is always out of the pumpkin stuff,” she said. “I would always have to go to the Reitz [Union] to get [the pumpkin cream cold brew].” 

In addition to pumpkin spice products, Coatney said chai syrups have also been a top seller at local Starbucks stores during this time and have gone out of stock on various occasions as well. 

However, Leila Barq, a 19-year-old UF political science and international studies sophomore, has successfully avoided being infected by the Starbucks fall fever so far. A loyal customer to Starbucks for over a decade — frequenting the shop every day of the week as a college student — she never misses an opportunity to snag her favorite item, the vanilla sweet cream cold brew, while others scramble for anything pumpkin spice. 

“I can make really good coffee at home,” she said. “But the whole vibe of going to Starbucks very much hits different to me.” 

A native of Orlando, Barq said that Starbucks stores in Gainesville tend to be much more crowded, in general, than the larger locations in her hometown. To her, the pumpkin spice crisis came to no surprise, especially since the Thursday deal Starbucks implemented this year. 

“Because of the buy-one-get-one-free, everyone is going to get these fall drinks,” she said. “There has been a lot sold out…Literally, almost everything.” 

Adding to the shortage of chai-tea items, Barq described having to “drive to the end of the Earth” with her friends to find a Starbucks location with chai syrup in stock. 

As the fall season passes by each day, customers can only hope that this crisis eventually comes to a close. 

Contact Jared Teitel at jteitel@alligator.org. Follow him on Twitter @jaredteitel.


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Jared Teitel

Jared Teitel is a third-year journalism major, and this is his second semester as an Avenue reporter. In his free time, he enjoys running, shopping, and drinking coffee. 


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