Some things are synonymous with autumn, like the start of a new school year and the changing color of the leaves. Other things have grown to be associated with the season, like pumpkin spice lattes.
In a pumpkin spice-saturated market, it can be difficult to stand out. There is seemingly a pumpkin spice variation of every major product, from Oreos to Kahlua. This year, even McDonald’s introduced a take on the ubiquitous drink.
Last week, pumpkin spice entered the political arena, with Hillary Clinton recently sharing her stance on the seasonal beverage, stating that she enjoyed pumpkin spice lattes until she discovered how many calories they contained.
A&E spent the afternoon sampling pumpkin spice lattes from establishments in Stadium Village to Dinkytown, so you know where to get your autumn fix.
9. Espresso Royale
You won’t find “pumpkin spice latte” written on any of the chalkboards at Espresso Royale, but one of the establishment’s baristas will snootily reply that they do indeed have
pumpkin spice syrup, which is “how you make lattes.”
Unfortunately, they don’t know how to make pumpkin spice lattes, with the drink tasting more like pumpkin-flavored cold medicine than the seasonal treat.
0 out of 4 North Face jackets
8. Bordertown Coffee
Perhaps it was because I’d burnt my tongue on the latte I’d consumed minutes before, but Bordertown’s take on the drink was neither spicy nor sweet, with the bitter espresso overpowering any added flavors.
1 out of 4 North Face jackets
7. Espresso Expose and The Purple Onion Cafe (Tie)
The pumpkin spice lattes from these two cafes are perfectly serviceable, with each giving the expected blend of syrup, steamed milk and espresso; however, neither offers anything more. There’s a seasonal demand for the drink, so Espresso Expose and The Purple Onion Cafe have it on hand.
2 out of 4 North Face jackets
5. Einstein Bros. Bagels
A person wouldn’t expect to find a decent pumpkin spice latte nestled by the Panda Express beneath Coffman Union, and to be fair, Einstein Bros.’ drink doesn’t offer anything beyond the basic blueprint outlined above. However, their pumpkin spice latte had the balanced blend of sweet and spice, with no one flavor overpowering another.
2.5 out of 4 North Face jackets
McDonald’s is fresh on the pumpkin spice scene this year, and it has concocted something that’s — unsurprisingly — addicting. There is nothing about McDonald’s pumpkin spice latte that resembles coffee; it’s closer to a molten, pumpkin-spiced marshmallow. Traditionally, the seasonal coffee drink is one to sip and savor. The fast food chain crafted one to quickly pound back until both your stomach and teeth ache.
3 out of 4 North Face jackets
3. Wise Owl Cafe
Wise Owl Cafe’s pumpkin spice latte is unexpectedly savory, a welcome change from the sea of sickly sweet lattes surrounding it. If you’re heading for a study break at Walter, maybe skip the stop at Starbucks beforehand once or twice.
You may be surprised.
3 out of 4 North Face jackets
2. Caribou Coffee
Caribou Coffee makes sure you taste the spice in its pumpkin latte, yet it’s subtle enough to go down easy. The Minneapolis-based chain has used real pumpkin for years — a decision other shops are just now starting to follow. Caribou also serves a greater variety of pumpkin drinks than its competitors, with pumpkin white chocolate mocha and pumpkin chai drinks.
3.5 out of 4 North Face jackets
There’s a reason Starbucks reigns supreme over all things pumpkin spice: They make a good latte, and this year’s addition of real pumpkin makes it even better. If pumpkin-spiced drinks were bands, Starbucks’ pumpkin spice latte would be the Beatles. Sure, it’s basic to cite it as your favorite, but the Beatlemania-level hype surrounding the release each season is justified.
4 out of 4 North Face jackets