The US State That Loves Pumpkin Spice Lattes The Most

The Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL), a combination of espresso and steamed milk with pumpkin and pumpkin pie spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, is arguably Starbucks' most popular seasonal coffee, a title it has held for over two decades since its introduction in 2003. Fans have consistently shown their enthusiasm for the drink.

Well, perhaps we should rephrase that, as enthusiasm for Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte varies across the U.S. According to Google Trends data, gathered from November 2022 to November 2023, residents from every U.S. state have been searching for information related to this seasonal coffee drink at different rates. It turns out that people in Hawaii, Nevada, South Dakota, New Mexico, and Arizona — in that order — are the most into it.

Meanwhile, those in New Hampshire and Vermont seem less interested, at least based on this metric. They may still be purchasing plenty of PSLs at statewide Starbucks locations, but honestly, the presence of Starbucks is not as prominent there. For instance, Vermont has only 12 Starbucks locations, according to the company's store locator.

Where does the PSL's birthplace rank?

Washington, of course, is the home of Starbucks, and was the first place where the seasonal coffee drink was initially tested back in 2003. It makes sense that the state ranks in the top 10 for searches for Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Lattes, placing at number seven. But what about Illinois? According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Illinois boasts more than double the pumpkin-growing acreage of any other state. Perhaps that's why the state cracked the top 20, coming in at number 18.

PSL search data has highlighted distinct regional preferences within the western U.S. Notably, the Pacific Northwest and the West Coast regions exhibit a strong fondness for PSLs. States like California, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii ranked in the top 12 for searches, with states like Arizona, Idaho, and Nevada also securing a spot in the top 12.

In contrast, the Northeast showed less interest. Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Vermont all ranked in the bottom 10 of search results for Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Lattes.

Our enduring fascination with PSLs

Food Republic isn't the only one to mine Google Trends data for intriguing insights. Google itself did so in 2022, aiming to chart the timeline of the seasonal coffee drink's ever-increasing popularity, which it described as "practically synonymous with autumn." For example, Google's own search data revealed that while the PSL had a successful launch in 2003, it didn't start gaining significant traction as a trending search topic until 2010.

Google also noted the evolution of the PSL from a seasonal fall beverage to one garnering the most search interest in the late summer month of August. This shift is understandable, given that Starbucks used to release its PSL in September. However, in recent years, the launch has typically occurred in August, aligning with the peak of public interest. According to Google, this change from September to August as the prime search month occurred in 2018.

This earlier release in August may not have been Starbucks' initial strategy but rather a response to market competition. Starbucks started the flavored latte trend, and by 2016, Dunkin' and McDonald's had started releasing their own PSLs in August. Consequently, Starbucks, having sold an estimated 200 million PSLs by September 2016, advanced its release date to September 1 in 2017, and then to August 28 in 2018.