Conceived as a gift for Starbucks® customers back when the company operated just five small stores in Seattle, Christmas Blend debuted at the original Pike Place location in 1984. It was an instant hit, spurring long lines around the store in the days leading up to Christmas Eve. And in years following, Starbucks stores would post countdown signs to let eager customers know when Christmas Blend would arrive.
Since then, Starbucks brought back the blend each year. Each vintage is unique – just like wine its flavors can fluctuate each season. What hasn’t changed is its cherished role through the holidays in more than 28,000 stores in 78 countries around the world.
Here is your guide to the 2018 blends, complete with coffee descriptions, recommended food flavor pairings, brewing suggestions and background on each of the blends.
Starbucks® Christmas Blend
Year introduced: 1984
Coffee flavor notes: Spicy and sweet
Complementary food flavors: Orange, nutmeg, clove, cinnamon
Recommended brew method: Drip machine
For more than 30 years, Starbucks customers have celebrated the holidays with Christmas Blend, a full-bodied spicy and rich cup of coffee with lively Latin American and mellow Indonesian coffees. The finishing touch is the addition of rare, spicy Sumatra beans, carefully aged to bring out their deep notes of cedar and sweet, black licorice. Christmas Blend is also available in decaf.
Starbucks® Christmas Blend Espresso Roast
Year introduced: 2010
Coffee flavor motes: Cedary and herbal spiciness with an intense caramelly sweetness
Complementary food flavors: Ginger, orange, pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, caramelized sugar
Recommended brew method: Espresso machine
Inspired by the flavors of Christmas Blend and Starbucks® Espresso Roast, this seasonal offering is tailored for espresso enthusiasts. Like Christmas Blend, it is made with Latin American, Indonesian and aged Sumatra beans, but with a unique recipe and roast profile that add acidity, herbal notes and a deep spiciness. The roast balances spicy with caramelly sweetness for an intense flavor experience. Christmas Blend Espresso Roast is custom made with espresso in mind, but it tastes great with any brewing method.
Starbucks® Holiday Blend
Year introduced: 2013
Coffee flavor notes: Sweet & layered
Complementary food flavors: Maple, herbs, cheese
Recommended brew method: Pour-over
Historically, Starbucks® Holiday Blend had been the same coffee as Starbucks® Christmas Blend, but with a different name. In 2013, the coffee team decided it was time to create a new identity for Holiday Blend, and a unique recipe that also features bright Latin American and smooth Indonesian coffees was born. The result is an elegant flavor with layers of maple and herbal notes that are balanced with a medium acidity and body. Holiday Blend is complex enough to satisfy your coffee cravings throughout the season, yet approachable enough to share with a crowd. Starbucks Holiday Blend coffee is also available in participating stores and grocery channels in roast and ground and K-Cup® packs.
Starbucks Reserve™ Christmas 2018
Year introduced: 2015
Coffee flavor notes: Warm woodsy aromas and holiday accents of mulled spices and orange zest
Complementary food flavors: Maple, cinnamon, cloves, sweet citrus
Recommended brew method: Coffee press
Our newest Christmas blend is a vibrant, modern expression of the holiday, with savory spice notes and a bright sweetness. The blend is composed of two exceptional Starbucks Reserve™ coffees: Hacienda Alsacia, grown at Starbucks own coffee farm in Costa Rica – the only one of its kind – and hand-selected aged Sumatra. This coffee card design was created in collaboration with Costa Rican artist Erykah Zeledón Salazar. The artwork tells the story of two lush coffee-growing ecosystems that come together in this year’s unforgettable holiday blend.