Coffee Facts

A Seasonal Pick-Me-Up; Pumpkin Spice Latte

by Lucia Liang on Oct 20, 2023

A Seasonal Pick-Me-Up; Pumpkin Spice Latte

The ubiquitous fall favorite

It has become a cliche, once the weather cools off and the leaves start to turn from verdant green to brown, gold, red, and orange, that people declare it is “pumpkin spice latte season”. But all jokes, internet memes, and cliches aside, why not give this seasonal treat a try? Who knows, you may just turn it into a perennial treat. But first, let's find out what a Pumpkin Spice Latte actually is.


A pumpkin spiced what?

So, while the pumpkin spice latte has become a fan favorite over the years and synonymous with Autumn, some readers may not be as familiar with the seasonal treat or its origins in the United States. So, what is a pumpkin spice latte? This drink’s origins go back to 2003 when Starbucks first introduced the pumpkiny caffeine treat. Starbucks had previously had success with limited-time, seasonal flavored coffee like eggnog and peppermint lattes for the Christmas holiday season. So, they gave the pumpkin spiced treat a try to capitalize on the Autumn season as well. Some Pumpkin Spice Latte lovers wait year-round for this Autumn-only drink. But what exactly is it in terms of ingredients?


What is in a pumpkin-spiced latte?

A latte is of course the basis for this beverage, and so espresso, milk, and foam all make an appearance, but so too do various herbs and spices like nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon. Pumpkin pie spice- which does not include actual pumpkin, as well as sugar may or may not make an appearance in this beverage. If you get an official Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks then you can enjoy real pumpkin flavoring with their special pumpkin sauce syrup which is added to this beverage to give the drink a true pumpkin flavor and character.


How can I make one at home?

This one is deceptively simple but will also require you to raid the spice rack or go spice hunting. As mentioned above the drink is at its core a latte. So 1-2 shots of espresso, steamed milk, and foam. But where things get complicated would be the addition of the extra Fall spices. Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, mace, and ginger can be added to give your latte that Autumn flavor and aroma. The spices can be used to powder the top of your latte or mixed in with the steamed milk depending on how strong you’d like your home-brew Pumpkin spice latte to be! Once your spices are added then that is pretty much a Pumpkin Spice Latte, though do feel free to go walk in the fallen leaves or explore a pumpkin patch once you brew it!


Season’s Greetings

You know Fall is here when the leaves change colors, the air gets a little cooler, and Pumpkin Spice Lattes enter onto menu boards on cafes and official Starbucks locations the world over. Why not give this charming Autumn drink a try? It might give you a new reason to look forward to a spooky season!


Works Cited

  • “Pumpkin Spice Latte.” Wikipedia, 28 Aug. 2021,
  • “Starbucks®.”,
  • “The Inventor of the Pumpkin Spice Latte Told Us How It Became a Cult Favorite.” Food & Wine,

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