Beverage

It's beginning to smell a lot like peppermint, everywhere you go

Peppermint is pushing out pumpkin spice and taking over beverage menus for the holidays, with coffee chains leading the way.
It's the most peppermint time of the year, as the flavor floods holiday menus with minty sweetness. | Image by Nico Heins.

What’s pink and white and minty sweet? The answer is easy to spot this holiday season, as operators shower customers with a flood of peppermint-flavored coffees, teas and sippable treats.

According to Tastewise, a market intelligence platform that tracks food trends, almost 8% of restaurants offer peppermint on menus and the social chatter around the flavor has increased by 21.7% over the last year.

Monin, a supplier of more than 100 flavored syrups to coffee concepts and other operations, reports that peppermint sales have been steadily increasing since 2021, with “an interesting spike this year. Monin Peppermint Syrup grew double digits in total sales from 2021 to 2022, and this year, we saw a 91% spike in sales in September 2023 compared to September 2022, with momentum continuing into the upcoming holiday season,” said Stasha Johnston, SVP of marketing at Monin Americas.

Judging from the number of peppermint-flavored beverages hitting menus this month, the momentum remains strong. Peppermint is to the winter season what pumpkin spice is to fall, and customers can sip an abundance of minty fresh beverages dressed in holiday colors in the coffee chain of their choice.

The Candy Cane Trio leads the seasonal lineup at Dutch Bros, with the chain’s cold brew, freeze and cocoa featuring a blend of peppermint flavor and chocolate milk topped with signature Soft Top and peppermint sprinks. There’s also a Zero Sugar Added Peppermint Bark Mocha; all run through Dec. 31.

Dutch Bros

Dutch Bros is offering a trio of peppermint beverages through the end of the year. | Photo courtesy of Dutch Bros.

Tim Horton’s jumped on the peppermint trend with a Peppermint Iced Capp, described as “a frozen, rich fusion of chocolate and peppermint flavor, finished with whipped topping and sprinkled with crunchy Peppermint Bark.” The same flavor profile can be ordered in a latte, iced latte, cold brew and hot chocolate. For guests who want something minty to nibble, there are Peppermint Timbits.

Brand new on Caribou Coffee’s holiday menu is the Ho Ho Mint Mocha Espresso shaker, which includes white chocolate mint flavor and fresh espresso shaken with ice and topped with a splash of oatmilk. Caribou introduced espresso shakers earlier this year with yes—a pumpkin version—and according to the chain, they’ve taken off. Guests who prefer the traditional can opt for a Ho Ho Mint Mocha garnished with candy canes, available hot, iced, blended or nitro.

holiday cups

Starbucks even has a holiday cup called "Peppermint Swirl." |Photo courtesy of Starbucks.

Of course, coffee giants Dunkin’ and Starbucksaren’t staying out of the game. Dunkin’s Peppermint Mocha Signature Latte returns to the 2023 holiday menu and Starbucks’ locations are serving up Peppermint Mocha and a Peppermint Brownie Cake Pop. Peppermint is also showing up on the design side; one of Starbucks’ four new holiday hot cups is called “Peppermint Swirl” with a motif to match.

But smaller regional players are getting their peppermint on, too. Omaha, Neb.-based Scooter’s is offering Peppermint Mocha, dubbed “winter in a cup.” It’s a blend of espresso, chocolate, steamed milk and “a sweet kick of peppermint,” topped with whipped cream and peppermint candy chips. And Bad Ass Coffee of Hawaii gives the holiday flavor a tropical twist. Peppermint Beach Bliss Latte combines espresso with white chocolate, macadamia nut and a shot of peppermint. Peppermint Hot Chocolate is also on the menu.

Scooters

Scooter's adds even more peppermint flavor to its holiday beverages with a sprinkle of peppermint candy chips on top. | Photo courtesy of Scooter's.

But you don’t have to be a coffee concept to capitalize on peppermint’s popularity. Two fast-food giants—Wendy’s and Chick-fil-A—are contributing to the trend.

The Peppermint Frosty returns to Wendy’s Tuesday for a limited time, replacing pumpkin spice as the seasonal flavor. The treat combines bursts of peppermint with the brand’s classic thick and creamy Frosty. Starting Monday, Chick-fil-A brings back its Peppermint Chip Milkshake, made with the chain’s Icedream dessert and chips of peppermint bark. Two new coffees are debuting along with the shake: Peppermint Bark Iced Coffee and Frosted Peppermint Chip Coffee—a blend of cold brew, peppermint syrup, Icedream and bark chips.

chick-fil-A

Two peppermint coffees join Chick-fil-A's returning Peppermint Chip Milkshake for 2023. | Photo courtesy of Chick-fil-A.

Haagen-Dazs has a complete Peppermint Bark dessert lineup, available starting Wednesday through Jan. 14. Peppermint Bark ice cream leads the pack with triple the flavor: chocolate ice cream is combined with peppermint bark and crushed peppermint candy pieces. The  Peppermint Bark Shake and Peppermint Bark Dazzler carry out the holiday theme.

“We’ve seen several key café and restaurant customers pick up this seasonal favorite for the first time in 2023,” Brian Loukmas, VP of Innovation at Monin Americas, said in a statement. “Peppermint is projected to gain even greater visibility on restaurant and bar menus through 2027, as it easily adds a minty, festive, and delicious element to winter beverage and culinary recipes.”

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