Commentary: Pumpkin spice and everything nice

By London Sinclair, Senior Reporter

The Pumpkin Spice Latte has lived a thousand lives.

It’s spent almost two decades as a harbinger of fall, being savored and sipped by Starbucks fanatics alike. It’s recently found an exceptionally bright 15 minutes of fame as the drink was featured in Taylor Swift’s video reenactment of a viral Tumblr post in 2014.


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It was made into a limited collection by Too Faced Cosmetics, including an 18-pan Pumpkin Spice Warm & Spicyeyeshadow palette and made its way onto the Goop Youtube channel as a detox smoothie. So, there’s little to say about the PS in PSL that hasn’t been covered. 

It has been around for almost four millennia, dating back to the Dutch East India Company and its proliferation through Asia and Europe during the Renaissance. Between the new age nut milks, syrups and the question of fresh pumpkin vs. canned, DIY spice mix vs. premade, there are at least a thousand ways to brew a pumpkin spice latte. Can I out-brew the reigning supreme Starbucks PSL, and if so, what is the winning recipe?

Note: I have replaced cow’s milk with oat for all of my drinks due to personal preference, plus oat milk creates fewer greenhouse gas emissions than dairy.

Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe:


  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 1½ cups water
  • 6 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 4 Tbsp pumpkin purée


Alternate Recipes and Methods:

The Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte was hard to beat – it’s reliable when you need something sweet to soften your case of the blues, and it’s a quick pick-up when you’re running late for school. As a devout subscriber to “clean living,” coffee frequents the headlines of wellness and lifestyle blogs both as a friend and as a foe. While I’m not quitting the coffee game any time soon, I’m committed to finding the perfect cup minus the ridiculous sugar content.

Pumpkin spice mushroom “chaga” latte:

I have major respect for the coffee fiends that have powered through the withdrawal phase and found peace in such mushroom alternatives; this is not me. While MUD\WTR is antioxidant-rich, it comes at the price of flavor. Earthy and thin, do yourself a favor and pass on this recipe. 

Pumpkin tea latte:

The Celestial Seasonings Candy Cane Lane is the best holiday tea, and it’s not up for debate. However, I decided to venture out of my comfort zone and bring an open mind to the Celestial Seasonings Sweet Pumpkin Harvest. I opted to make this black tea into a tea latte, a la the tried and true chai. I began by simmering my oat milk in a saucepan and once it reached my desired temperature, I transferred it into a mug. I took two Sweet Pumpkin Harvest tea bags and steep them in the oat milk for about two minutes and then frothed the entire contents of the mug. Voila, pumpkin milk. Although I don’t believe this cozy drink deserves the title of latte, the flavor was there and if I had more patience, maybe I’d make it again. 

My Mom and I have always found solace in the holidays. We embrace the cold weather, cozy up by the fire and sip something warm. We decorate the dining table and host dinner parties. We cook food as a way create community. And we love to gift.
My Mom and I have always found solace in the holidays. We embrace the cold weather, cozy up by the fire and sip something warm. We decorate the dining table and host dinner parties. We cook food as a way create community. And we love to gift. (Photo credit: Courtesy of Julieanne Rosaasen)

Golden pumpkin spice latte: WINNER

As a lover of the golden latte and its overlap of fall spices, I had high expectations, and it met them all. The golden latte ruled over my 2019 as the “it” drink of fall. While 2019 is no longer, I still come back to the golden milk latte when I’m feeling down. The key ingredient of turmeric packs a punch, with a high antioxidant level, immunity-boosting powers and its ability to increase cognitive function. A well-rounded drink if you will.

My first try with this concoction was a flop; I mixed the golden powder straight into the coffee, poured some oat milk on top, and called it a day. However, after a few more rounds of trial and error, I made the perfect cup, and it’s your lucky day because I’m extending the recipe.

Mix your coffee grounds with the golden powder and pumpkin spice mix, then pour over with hot water. The hot water will steep the coffee and bring the golden pumpkin spice deliciousness to life, creating a lush brew. Froth your milk. Prepare a mug or cup with ice, pour in coffee, milk and add sugar if you fancy some sweetness. While I didn’t add sugar to mine, I made a last-minute dairy-free whipped cream and I implore you to do the same. Accessorize with a cinnamon stick.

I know this recipe is slightly unconventional as it does not include a single measurement, but the recipe lies in the concept, not the math.

Food fuels your body, this is true, but what most people don’t know is that it also feeds your soul.

Whether it’s the morning cup with mom, a mid-afternoon jaunt across the Archer campus with friends or a late-night caffeine cram session, I have seen something as simple as a cup of coffee put smiles on faces, spark conversations and bring people together when they need it most.

So next time you are brewing or buying a cup, remember that coffee is a ritual we shouldn’t take for granted.