After trying pumpkin lattes in the past, this year, the Italian chain is mixing things up.
At this point, the seasonal latte wars are well documented. From Starbucks' introduction of the Pumpkin Spice Latte in 2003 to present day where we all have pumpkin spice practically oozing out of our pores by October, fall seasonal beverages have become a must at pretty much every chain—and this year, Olive Garden is saying, "Hey, don't forget about us! Lattes are originally Italian. And we're Italian… Well, 'Italian-American.' But same thing! And we can do lattes too!" (For the record, the restaurant chain didn't specially say any of that, but you get the drift…)
This fall, Olive Garden has introduced the Caramel Apple Butter Latte, a new fall seasonal offering that features Lavazza espresso blended with caramel apple butter and steamed milk, finished with a cinnamon sprinkle. Beyond its latte form, guests can also order the drink as an iced coffee or cappuccino flavor. As expected, Olive Garden has also brought back its popular seasonal Pumpkin Cheesecake (which is an actual cheesecake, by the way), so though the latte is new, it works as an extension of the chain's existing fall menu. "We strive to provide a menu that features comforting and craveable flavors—and that includes our beverages," an Olive Garden rep told us via email. "We think our guests will love ringing in fall with the seasonal flavor of Caramel Apple Butter."
In the past, the Italian chain has tried to go the pumpkin latte route, but though Caramel Apple Butter might not seem like the most exciting flavor on the surface, it could prove to be a pretty savvy choice. Since it's unlikely people are going to drop by Olive Garden just for a coffee, there's no reason to take the traditional coffee chains head-on in the pumpkin category. But by going somewhat off the beaten latte path, this new drink could potentially entice people to drop in at the prospect of trying something a little different to accompany their never-ending pasta bowl.