Since it was the first week of Fall, I figured there’s nothing more ‘basic’ and basically delicious than the Pumpkin Spice Latte. The Fall Season and Pumpkin Spice Lattes (or PSLs as they’re often referred to) go together like peanut butter and jelly. Without one, we can’t possibly have the other.
Although I wouldn’t mind either sticking around all year long.
So I thought I’d do a fun experiment. Why not go around town and sample various Pumpkin Spice Lattes from the major chains that offer the seasonal drink? And that’s just what I did.
I really enjoyed my “research” for this post:) There is so much hype surrounding the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte (the original creators) and I wanted to see if they really have the best one in town.
Join me on my ‘Coffee Bar” Crawl and see what I discovered:
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Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte
I decided to start at Starbucks where the Pumpkin Spice Latte began. And they didn’t disappoint.
What I ordered: I ordered a tall Pumpkin Spice Latte. The girl who made my drink called my name and told me she accidentally made a grande, which is larger than the one I ordered. She said it was mine if I didn’t mind.
Of course, I happily accepted.
I love coffee but since I was testing several on the same day, I didn’t want a caffeine overload which is why I had ordered the smaller size to begin with. But in this case, I wasn’t going to turn down the extra treat.
Thoughts: The drink was delicious! From the first sip until the last, I enjoyed every last drop. Their drink has a creamy smooth taste, a subtle pumpkin flavor and just enough spice (cinnamon flavor). I liked this Pumpkin Spice Latte because it warmed me up and made me think of fall. It wasn’t too sweet but still tasted special.
I was actually pleasantly surprised because a few years ago I ordered a pumpkin spice latte from the Starbucks located inside a grocery store and was less than impressed. It didn’t have much flavor or spice and I was left underwhelmed.
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Dunkin’ Pumpkin Spice Latte
Dunkin’ was the next stop on the tour. Dunkin’ has long been a favorite coffee of mine so I had high expectations.
What I ordered: I asked for a Pumpkin Spice Latte and grabbed the kids egg and cheese wake up wraps before we headed to the grocery store.
Thoughts: On first look at my Pumpkin Spice Latte, I noticed it looked plain. There were no visible signs of cinnamon or spice in the drink, like my Starbucks drink previously had. Upon sipping it, I knew I had the correct drink.
It tasted like their pumpkin coffee but smoother since it was a latte. I didn’t really taste any pumpkin flavor but definitely tasted the spice (seemed more of a nutmeg than cinnamon flavor to me).
The latte was good and I’d order again, but didn’t wow me as much as I thought it would. After leaving I noticed online that they offer a ‘Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Signature Latte’ which I don’t think is what I got. Mine didn’t have the whipped cream topping or cinnamon and sugar on it like described online.
When ordering, I’d asked if they had a Pumpkin Spice Latte and got what they handed me. I wasn’t offered anything different so I may have to go back and try another one.
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Whole Foods Pumpkin Spice Latte
Whole Foods was the last stop on my list because I couldn’t find a PSL at the other two places I tried. I had tried this drink a few weeks ago, but got it again when gathering my “research” for this post to compare to the others.
What I ordered: I ordered a small Pumpkin Spice Latte. There was a card displayed on the counter which mentioned the drink (how I was aware of their PSL) and showed a picture of what their PSL looked like.
Thoughts: This was the prettiest presentation of any of the PSL’s I’d tasted. It looked exactly as advertised as well. While this PSL was delicious and had a good cinnamon flavor, I didn’t taste any pumpkin flavor. The PSL was creamy and smooth and tasted seasonal and festive. I would definitely get it again.
I do have to note however, that the PSL I got a few weeks ago looked the same as this one, but really wow’d me. This one was good but wasn’t as noteworthy as the last time I got it. The first time I got a PSL from Whole Foods was in the morning and this time was in the afternoon. It was also from a different barista, so I’m suspecting those reasons possibly affected the taste this time.
Pumpkin Spice Latte Summary:
Places I bought and taste tested a PSL:
- Whole Foods
Where I wanted to go but they didn’t have a PSL:
- McDonalds: They mention online having a Pumpkin Spice Latte but looks like it’s only for select participating locations. I drove through my local McDonalds and tried to order a PSL, but they told me they don’t have them. Womp womp.
- Panera: They have a new drink called ‘Cinnamon Spice Latte’ but I didn’t include in my post because I was only including drinks that were called Pumpkin Spice Lattes. I didn’t bother trying them for purposes of this post, but am interested in trying their new drink in the future.
My favorite PSL:
Starbucks actually was my favorite PSL during this experiment. I think they lived up to their reputation. The Whole Foods PSL was another favorite. The first one I tried probably tied with the Starbucks one I got. I thought all the PSL’s had a good, yet different variation, and all had a seasonal spice flavor. There wasn’t a PSL that I didn’t like, and I’d buy any of these again.
Things worth noting:
- Not all PSL’s are created equal. At least in my opinion. After having the same drink from different locations and sometimes even from same location, the taste varies.
I think factors that affect the taste and presentation of each PSL depend on things like:
- Time of day your drink is made: fresh coffee? Or coffee sitting around all day?
- Location: There may be some difference between a free standing location vs. a location that’s inside a larger store.
- Who makes your drink: the skill and experience of your barista could affect how well your PSL tastes
Therefore, if you’re not thrilled or impressed by your PSL at a certain location, I recommend giving it a second chance before drawing any final conclusions.
- I wanted to taste each drink to get the true flavor without adding extra variables. And I wanted to keep my taste testing consistent so I didn’t ask for any added cream or sugar to any of my PSL’s.
- Starbucks makes an amazing PSL, but in reality they’re all good. None of the PSL’s I tasted were bad. I finished each one and I’d happily drink any (and all of them) again!
So go get basic—throw on your favorite pair of leggings, treat yourself to a Pumpkin Spice Latte and head out to the nearest pumpkin patch. . . or at least the pumpkin decorations section of Target (because Target is always a good idea)!
Happy Fall Y’all!
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Do YOU have a favorite PSL? Let me know in the comments!