Starbucks' CEO Confirms New Boba-Like Drinks Are Launching This Summer

Innovation is in the air at Starbucks with a new line of boba-style drinks coming this summer. While the company itself hasn't officially confirmed any details yet, CEO Laxman Narasimhan confirmed the impending arrival of the new products, which have been an ongoing rumor around Starbucks, during an earnings call on Tuesday.

"For summer, we are launching our first texture innovation, Pearls," Narasimhan said, noting that the new drinks are scheduled to be released sometime during the week of May 6. However, the boba announcement comes on the heels of a number of early leaks on social media in the past few days, with some videos of baristas making the drinks, and photos of the new summer menu showing the addition. 

Starbucks is always striving to stay on the forefront of new drink styles beyond its standard coffee offerings, whether it was the launch of the still popular Starbucks Refreshers or last year's fascinatingly big swing with olive oil-infused coffees called Starbucks Oleato. And the boba confirmation wasn't the only news that fans should keep an eye out for. Narasimhan also noted that more new drinks are on the way, adding, "This is the first of more texture-based innovations that our customers can expect in the coming years." 

Starbucks is adjusting its business strategy

Despite being a first for the U.S., Starbucks has served boba in Asia previously, although it referred to it as "coffee spheres." It has also been one of the hottest trends in the beverage world for years now. Competitors Dunkin' and Sonic both experimented with popping bubbles back in 2021; Starbucks tested boba drinks in certain U.S. markets around the same time, but nothing ever came from it. Like those other chain brands, Starbucks also seems hesitant to refer to the new products as boba, instead opting in both statements and the leaked promotional guides to use the term "pearls."

While the new boba drinks have undoubtedly been in development for some time, the announcement comes just as Starbucks is hitting a rough patch. The company's stock has suffered from a record plunge after suffering through numerous months of substandard traffic since last November and the chain lowering its forecasts for the year. However, Starbucks has already recognized the downward trend, with Narasimhan noting that the company has a comprehensive plan around both organization and new products, including the new boba pearls.

Customers have already seen some changes, like the new spicy Refreshers, and the newly announced cold cup designs, which should save the chain money. Given Narasimhan's statements and the state of the company, it would be a surprise if the summer menu was the only time we see these pearls in Starbucks drinks.