When fall comes around, there’s nothing as iconic as Starbucks pumpkin spice drinks. Pumpkin spice has been a popular spice mix for a long time, commonly used in autumnal desserts like pumpkin pie. The spice blend generally contains cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, allspice, and ginger. Put together, this gives you a warm blend that combines sweetness with a touch of heat that’s perfect for chilly fall days.
But when did pumpkin spice meet coffee? Read on to trace the merging of these two favorites.
Who Created Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte?
The Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte, colloquially called a PSL, has become a pop culture icon that inspires lifestyles and mood boards around the world. This classic fall drink was introduced to the Starbucks menu in 2003 and has remained a seasonal staple ever since.
Development of the PSL was initiated following the success of other seasonal drinks during the winter, such as Peppermint Mocha and Eggnog Latte. Reportedly, Starbucks employees poured espresso over different pumpkin pies to formulate the perfect ratio and blend of spices to complement the coffee. The formula is commonly credited to Peter Dukes, who was the Director of espresso at the time and behind the team that developed other seasonal drinks.
Pumpkin Spice has taken the world by storm since it was introduced, becoming synonymous with fall and as ubiquitous as falling leaves. A whole host of pumpkin spice products are on the market now, from scented candles to chocolates to pasta. Since its introduction in 2003, over 400 million PSLs have been sold in the United States alone. In 2015, real pumpkin flavor was added to the drink based on popular demand.
How To Order The Best Pumpkin Drinks At Starbucks
Ordering at Starbucks can be daunting if you’re not familiar with their array of flavorings, syrups, and customization options. If you want to order the best pumpkin drinks at Starbucks, here are the customizations you need to know:
Also known as Pumpkin Spice Syrup, this is the main flavoring in most of the best pumpkin spice drinks at Starbucks. It’s made with pumpkin spice blend, sweetened condensed milk, sugar, and real pumpkin.
Pumpkin Spice Topping is used to garnish drinks, commonly over whipped cream. The spice topping consists of a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and ginger. This is often used along with pumpkin spice syrup in drinks like frappuccinos and lattes with whipped cream.
Perfect for cold brew, the Pumpkin Cream Cold Foam is made with heavy cream, vanilla syrup, milk, and pumpkin spice sauce. It can also be used as a topping in any iced drink or espresso.
The 10 Best Pumpkin Spice Drinks At Starbucks
1. Pumpkin Spice Latte
The drink that launched a thousand variations, Pumpkin Spice Latte is a seasonal phenomenon that shows no signs of slowing down. Possibly the best pumpkin spice drink at Starbucks, the PSL is an elevated and season-appropriate take on the usual latte.
The PSL combines espresso, steamed milk, and pumpkin spice sauce topped with whipped cream and pumpkin spice topping. You can taste the unique spice flavor in every sip and it’s definitely something you should try at least once. You can also order this cold, as the Starbucks pumpkin spice iced coffee. Another customization option is choosing a blonde roast espresso instead of the usual dark espresso, which will give you a sweeter and milder drink.
Are you wondering how to order a skinny pumpkin spice latte? A healthier pumpkin spice latte is absolutely possible. For a relatively healthy Starbucks pumpkin spice latte, ask your barista to use skim milk or vegan milk, cut down on the amount of syrup (2-3 pumps is more than enough), skip the whipped cream, and go for a smaller drink size. You can also opt to get your pumpkin fix in other drinks, like adding a few pumps of pumpkin spice syrup to espresso or Americano.
If you’d like to try making this at home, here’s a simple and easy recipe.
2. Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino
This sugary concoction is more like an ice cream shake than coffee, but to each their own. The Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino is made with coffee, whole milk, ice, and pumpkin spice sauce blended together and topped with whipped cream and pumpkin spice topping. This icy treat gives you a potent taste of pumpkin spice, mellowed out by the sweetness of the other ingredients.
This is the perfect drink for early fall when it’s chilly but you still want an iced drink. However, this drink is high in sugar and calories, so save it for an occasional treat and not for your daily coffee.
3. Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew
A seasonal twist on the classic Starbucks cold brew, the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew combines smooth cold brew coffee with pumpkin spice cream, pumpkin spice topping, and vanilla. This drink was introduced in 2019, making it the first new pumpkin drink launched since the PSL in 2003.
Since it’s made with cold brew, the pumpkin cream cold brew has a high caffeine concentration. If you want to power through your day but still enjoy some seasonal flavors, this is the drink for you. You can customize your drink by adding more vanilla for extra sweetness or more pumpkin spice topping for enhanced flavor.
4. Pumpkin Spice Crème Frappuccino
If you want the decadence of the pumpkin spice frappuccino without any caffeine, get the Pumpkin Spice Crème Frappuccino. This caffeine-free beverage is made with ice, whole milk, pumpkin spice sauce, whipped cream, and pumpkin spice topping.
Best described as pumpkin pie in a cup, the pumpkin spice crème frappuccino is practically a dessert and comes loaded with cream and sugar so keep that in mind if you’re health-conscious.
5. Nitro Cold Brew with Pumpkin Cream Cold Foam
If you thought cold brew was potent, wait till you try the nitro cold brew. Made by passing nitrogen bubbles through cold brew coffee, nitro cold brew is a smoother and stronger version of cold brew. The nitro cold brew with pumpkin cream cold foam is the most caffeinated pumpkin drink at Starbucks, with up to 75% more caffeine than an iced pumpkin spice latte.
This drink is made by sweetening nitro cold brew with vanilla syrup and topping with pumpkin cream cold foam and pumpkin spice topping. The addition of nitrogen keeps the drink cold by itself, meaning you don’t have to add ice (which means more coffee in your cup!). Reach for this drink when you want a major caffeine boost with the flavors of fall.
6. Pumpkin Chai Latte
The pumpkin chai latte is an interesting drink that combines chai spice with pumpkin spice. Both drinks have spices in common, like cinnamon and ginger. The pumpkin chai latte isn’t on the main menu, so you’ll have to ask your barista for a chai latte with 2-3 pumps of pumpkin spice syrup. The resulting drink is warm and comforting, perfect for cozy fall coffee sessions.
7. Iced Pumpkin Spice Caramel Macchiato
Combining two of the most popular flavors at Starbucks, the Iced Pumpkin Spice Caramel Macchiato is a customized drink made by adding a few pumps of pumpkin spice syrup to an iced caramel macchiato. Caramel macchiatos, whether iced or hot, are already pretty great and the flavors are only elevated with the addition of pumpkin spice. Get it ‘Cali-style’ with caramel drizzle around the cup for the perfect instagrammable drink.
8. Iced Pumpkin White Chocolate Mocha
If you love mocha drinks at Starbucks, give it some seasonal flair by adding pumpkin spice. For the Iced Pumpkin White Chocolate Mocha, you need to ask your barista for an Iced White Chocolate Mocha with 2 pumps each of white mocha sauce and pumpkin spice sauce, extra caramel drizzle, and replace whipped cream with pumpkin cream cold foam.
The combination of flavors in this drink brings together the flavors of fall and early winter.
9. Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate
Probably the coziest drink on this list, Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate is fall vibes in a cup. It’s very easy to order this, just ask for a hot chocolate with 2 pumps of pumpkin spice sauce. This drink is kid-friendly (you can even order it at ‘kid’s temperature’ which is less hot and easier to drink immediately) and also a perfect little treat for adults.
The bitterness of the chocolate perfectly complements the spicy-sweet heat of pumpkin spice to give you a drink that’ll warm you up from the inside.
10. Pumpkin Spice Crème
Ending this list with the most pumpkin drink on the menu, the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Crème is made by simply adding pumpkin spice sauce to steamed milk and topping it off with whipped cream and pumpkin spice topping. This is another kid-friendly drink option at Starbucks since it’s caffeine-free and quite sweet. The flavor is not overpowering while still bringing a sweet and spicy kick to the sweet milk.
That’s my list of the best pumpkin drinks at Starbucks! If you’re tempted to try them out when the season comes around, here are some general tips:
- You can add pumpkin spice to almost any drink on the menu and it goes especially well with espresso-based drinks and chai lattes.
- You have plenty of caffeine-free pumpkin drinks like the pumpkin spice crème and pumpkin spice hot chocolate. You can also opt for decaf coffee in the other drinks.
- All pumpkin drinks at Starbucks contain dairy since the syrup itself is made with condensed milk. However, you can eliminate dairy in the drink itself by opting for vegan milk rather than normal steamed milk.
- You can also find pumpkin-themed items on the food menu which pair well with the pumpkin spice drinks.
- Remember, pumpkin spice is a seasonal item so you won’t find it all year round and it may be limited in your area.
Give it a try when in season, and the pumpkin spice range at Starbucks is sure to delight and might even encourage you to try pumpkin spice in other things (it’s clearly inspired millions already!).