Caffeine scene: middle school students, faculty members voice opinions on Pumpkin Spice Lattes


Photo credit: Amelia Stone

Student Carla Martinez ’23 said that the Pumpkin Spice Latte is an essential element of fall. The release of the Pumpkin Spice Latte has been a topic of discussion amongst middle schoolers.

Starbucks released its signature fall drink, the Pumpkin Spice Latte, on Aug. 28, 2018. Time Magazine found that the drink grossed 350,000,000 dollars in the last 15 years. Despite its national popularity, members of the Archer community expressed differing opinions about the benefits and harms of the latte.

Carla Martinez ’23 said that she enjoys the beverage and has discussed it with her friends.

“A lot of [middle schoolers] look forward to Pumpkin Spice Lattes,” she said. “They just generally taste good. For me, they’re not too sugary or too bland, they’re just right.”

Though Julissa Cach ’24 has never tried the latte, she said that the drink is “overrated” and expressed concerns about the high sugar content. 

“I always think I would get cavities,” Cach said. “I would have a huge stomachache because I’m not used to eating a lot of sugar.”

Infographic designed by Amelia Stone

According to Starbucks, one eight ounce latte with whole milk and without whipped cream contains 24 grams of sugar.

The American Heart Association states that women should consume 25 grams of added sugar a day and men should consume 36 grams of added sugar a day. Eight fluid ounces of latte is around the recommended added sugar intake for the day. Time Magazine also notes that excess amounts of sugar causes tooth decay.

In a survey about about Pumpkin Spice Lattes and beverage ingredients sent to the whole middle school, 73.1 percent of the 108 respondents said that they are unaware of the ingredients in a Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Fitness and Wellness teacher Alison Hirshan said she is concerned about the effects of the latte’s ingredients on those who drink it.  

“I know that they have a very, very high amount of sugar in them, and I believe it’s mixed with espresso and then some type of cream, so all of that together, I know, is not good for anybody,” Hirshan said.

According to KidsHealth, effects of caffeine on adolescents include weakened focus and issues with sleep, even when drinking small amounts. Hirshan expressed concern that Archer students may be experiencing these effects as a result of consuming the beverages.

“That’s even worse for somebody who is younger because caffeine affects their brain so much more intensely,” she said. “If they drank espresso, especially with sugar, that’s going to affect their brain instantly.”

Hirshan believes the latte is especially problematic for younger students because of its “marketing.”

I think they promote their stuff on Instagram and on Snapchat so it just makes it fun and cool, which is definitely, really, an issue,” she said. “If they really looked at the nutrition facts… if they could see how that affected their brain, I bet they wouldn’t [drink] it.”