FuelFeed Post

From crop to cup – the fuels and petchem behind your pumpkin spice latte

September 1, 2016

It’s the end of summer, which can only mean one thing… pumpkin spice lattes are coming back to Starbucks! From now until Christmas, you won’t be able to look at your phone without seeing #PSL as your friends sip on what is basically this generation’s McRib.

It's PSL time

It’s #PSL time again!

But how does the PSL end up in your cup? Well, you’ve got the oil and gas industry to thank for that, because Starbucks’ real success lies not only in its products, but also in its supply chain and distribution network.

Behind every Starbucks café is a complicated network of bean mills, roasting plants and distribution centers. The company sources its coffee from all over the world, and tasks logistics companies with making sure these beans are transported through the entire manufacturing process, from the fields to the mills and eventually to the distribution centers.

In the U.S. alone, Starbucks has 33 central distribution centers from which the ingredients for your PSL are regularly delivered by truck to your local café. From napkins to coffee beans, everything is trucked in from a distribution center (like the York, PA center pictured below).

Starbucks Distribution Center in York, PA

What do the trucks run on? Fuels, refined from oil by companies here in the U.S. at refineries across the country. Without these fuels, your PSL ingredients wouldn’t even make it out of the ground, let alone to your local café.

And while the cups themselves are partly recycled paper, plastics made from petrochemicals are a key component of the cup lids – as well as the containers for their cold drinks. Again, the petrochemicals for these cups and lids come from refined oil and gas.

So without oil and gas, your PSL wouldn’t exist – and neither would the phone your friends use to let everyone know they’re drinking a #PSL.

(P.S. If anyone from McDonalds is reading this, please bring back the McRib.)