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Starbucks Unveils New Holiday Cups In Festive Christmas Designs

CHICAGO (CBS) -- If you thought Starbucks didn't put enough Christmas in their holiday cups in years past, make no mistake, this year's cups are sure to make even the biggest Grinch as jolly as Santa himself.

Starbucks is more than doubling down on Christmas with this year's holiday cups.

The four holiday designs include "Stargyle," a green and white argyle pattern featuring Christmas tree stars; "Flora," a mint green and cream holly leaf pattern with red coffee cherries; "Espresso Houndstooth," a red and white houndstooth-inspired flame pattern; and "Stripes," featuring broad stripes of poppy red and cranberry red, with a pale rose gold accent, and a ribbon of black, white, and Starbucks green.

Starbucks 2018 Holiday Cups. (Joshua Trujillo, Starbucks)

In addition to the disposable holiday cups available at all stores, customers can also get a limited-edition red reusable holiday cup if they order a holiday beverage on Nov. 2 at participating stores. They can then bring that cup back to any company-owned or licensed store in the U.S. or Canada after 2 p.m. from Nov. 3 to Jan. 7 to get 50 cents off any grande holiday drink.

Starbucks has been introducing new holiday cups each fall since 1997. Some holiday cup designs in the past have been criticized for not being Christmas-y enough, but it should be a hard argument to make with this year's cups.

"We listened to our customers," said Roz Brewer, Starbucks' chief operating officer. They said they "loved the tradition of Christmas," she added.

Starbucks (SBUX) figured out what customers wanted in a few different ways, Brewer said. Employees asked for feedback and comments in person, and the company gathered information about preferences through its digital platforms like the mobile app.

Starbucks uses seasonal items to build excitement around products and help market the brand. This year, there will also be a big marketing push behind the seasonal cups as part of Starbucks' overall media strategy Brewer said.

To give customers a taste of the holiday, Starbucks drew inspiration from its own Starbucks Christmas Blend coffee. The result is "not only retro, but true to who we are," Brewer said.

Last year's cups were white with doodles on them, designed to let people color in the lines. "The holidays mean something different to everyone," the company said in an ad showing two women gazing at each other over a cup of coffee. The campaign served as a lightning rod of controversy, with some praising and some criticizing the brand for apparently featuring a lesbian couple.

In 2015, Starbucks said it removed "symbols of the season" used in the past, which have included reindeer and ornaments, in favor of a simple, two-toned red cup. In response, one critic posted a video that went viral, saying the company removed "Christmas from their cups because they hate Jesus."

In response, Starbucks said it works "to create a culture of belonging, inclusion and diversity." The cup is meant to be a "blank canvas" that encourages "customers to tell their Christmas stories in their own way," Starbucks added at the time.

Brewer said that this year's decision to take a more traditional route wasn't a response to those earlier controversies.

"We learn from everything we do in our stores," she said. Last year's cup "didn't resonate with some, [but] it did resonate with others."

The return of Starbucks holiday cups also means the return of their popular holiday beverages, including peppermint mocha, toasted white chocolate mocha, caramel brulée latte, chestnut praline latte, gingerbread latte, and eggnog latte; all available as hot, iced or Frappuccino blends.

2018 holiday-themed treats at Starbucks. (Credit: Starbucks)

Holiday treats at Starbucks this year include the new chocolate swirl brioche, a brioche filled with "fudgy" dark chocolate; a sugarplum cheese danish, croissant dough topped with cream cheese filling and plum spread; and a pistachio honey croissant. Returning holiday flavors include gingerbread loaf, penguin cake pops, peppermint brownie cake pops, snowman cookies, cranberry bliss bars, carved ham and swiss breakfast sandwiches, and holiday turkey panini.

Customers also can buy four varieties of Christmas Blend coffee beans.

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Starbucks Christmas Blend coffee beans. (Credit: Starbucks)

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The CNN Wire contributed to this report.)

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