Starbucks Didn't Invent The Pistachio Latte

It's nice to know that the pistachio nuts we all love and crave are also pretty happy with themselves. Cultures have interpreted the way the nuts appear when they split open upon ripening as a wry little smile; in Iran, they're known as "smiling nuts," while the Chinese call them the "happy nut" (via Khoshbin). And who could blame them for their confidence, as pistachios are quickly climbing the rankings as one of the world's most beloved kernels. Its popularity is due to its unique flavor and exceptional culinary versatility, as it's used in salads, breadings, fish, and even dessert items like cookies and ice cream (per The Spruce Eats). According to Khoshbin, pistachios originated in Persia in 7000 B.C. and are a big part of Middle Eastern cuisine. However, the U.S. has overtaken the region as the largest producer of the little green nut. Sicily, Italy, where they refer to the nuts as "green gold," is a region known to produce some of the best pistachios where they infuse the flavor into their ice cream and liquors (via Food Business News).

So it is no surprise that the pistachio made its way into our coffee, and Starbucks' very own Pistachio Latte has become a huge hit. It's hard not to love some of Starbucks' offerings; they get a lot of attention, deservedly so, but do they deserve the credit for inventing the highly-esteemed Pistachio Latte?

Who did it first?

Starbucks introduced the Pistachio Latte in January 2021 as one of their highly anticipated holiday specialty drinks (per Axios). According to Kitchn, it's made with espresso, steamed milk, brown butter topping, and pistachio flavoring (ground from real pistachios). Food Business News says it was inspired by Starbucks' popular Hazelnut Bianco Latte, which led its development team to make another nut-infused creation. Despite labs being shut down due to COVID-19 restrictions, Starbucks released this creamy winter treat after an exhausting pandemic year.

So, was Starbucks the first to offer this to consumers? Not even close. Menengic coffee, also known as pistachio or terebinth coffee, has been around long before Starbucks, and the drink is made from ground terebinth flowers that grow on certain types of pistachio trees (via Perfect Daily Grind). There have even been smaller cafes that have offered this tasty treat to their customers before Starbucks. For example, the manager of Jolt Coffee, Louisette Castel, says that a pistachio latte has been on the café's menu since it opened and has always been offered year-round.

Nevertheless, recognizing a good idea and making it one's own is the story of Starbucks' Pistachio Latte. This specialty drink was even such a hot seller that it was returned for the following holiday season. And since the flavor of pistachios has become so popular, maybe Starbucks will find new types of drinks — like pistachio chai or pistachio hot chocolate — to tempt its loyal consumers!