Echo staffers review pumpkin spice lattes

The search for the perfect cup

Caribou advertises their new fall drink menu Sept. 18. Shown is a steaming cup of Caribou’s pumpkin latte with whipped cream.

Dahlia Herman

Caribou advertises their new fall drink menu Sept. 18. Shown is a steaming cup of Caribou’s pumpkin latte with whipped cream.

Sarah Kluckhohn and Dahlia Herman

It’s officially fall, which means it’s time to cozy up, grab your sweaters and curl up with a nice hot pumpkin spice latte (PSL). But the annual problem seems to occur —  which pumpkin spice latte is the smooth, spice infused, warm cup of joe that our mouths water for? We decided to help you out and try this crave-able drink from some of the most popular coffee shops, and give you the rundown. Before we sip in (get it — like dig in), we have some criteria that we considered for each drink. We expect the latte to have a smooth texture, nice flavor, strong pumpkin and spice notes, while not overpowering the coffee. We also expect a non-artificial flavor, something that tastes like real pumpkin. And most importantly, we want to know if the drink makes you feel like Autumn is giving you a nice, warm hug. We will also be giving each drink a Lorelai Glimore approval rating (Lorelai Gilmore, for those unaware, was a main character in Gilmore Girls, a sitcom where coffee is ever-present). So, without further ado, let’s sip in. 

Caribou Pumpkin Latte: ★★★★☆

As a Minnesotan-exclusive brand, we had high hopes for Caribou’s pumpkin latte. I’m happy to say it did not disappoint. The latte smelled divine, and made us excited to try it. We didn’t even wait for it to cool down, and my co-writer burnt her tongue — a worthy sacrifice in the hunt for the perfect PSL. The latte itself was spiced to perfection, with notes of nutmeg especially standing out. The coffee flavor was the strongest out of all of the drinks we tried — if you are a fan of strong coffee, this drink will not disappoint. The pumpkin flavor was subtle — more of a welcome addition than a main detail. Depending on personal taste, you might like that, but if you’re looking for the perfect pumpkin spice latte, you may be as disappointed as we were. Overall though, the drink was sublime. At $6.44 for a small drink, this latte is a little pricey, but totally worth it. Most importantly, it feels like autumn. Drinking this definitely made me want to curl up by the fire and watch the leaves fall. So if you’re wondering what to order at a caribou, look no further than the pumpkin latte, because it’s Gilmore approved. 

Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte: ★★★☆☆

As the pinnacle of the pumpkin spice world, Starbucks has a lot to live up to. It’s the go-to coffee spot for tons of Park students — so we had to make sure their latte was delicious. When we got our drink, it came out much more colorful than Caribou’s, which set off alarm bells in our heads for artificial coloring. Along with the coloring the first taste was very artificial, like a chemically altered pumpkin. It also came out piping hot, although by now we had learned our lesson and we waited for it to cool down. The drink was definitely pumpkin-y, much more than Caribou’s, and the coffee flavor was much more subdued. The “spice” part of the pumpkin spice latte was missing, though, as there was none to be found. In addition to that, the drink was overly sweet, and reminded me of candy corn. It did have the warm, cuddling up in a blanket, fall vibes and was cheaper than Caribou at $5.65 for a small, but unfortunately it did not live up to the hype. With great sadness, I say that this drink is not Gilmore approved. 

McCafe Pumpkin Spice Latte: ★★★☆☆

It’s surprising a place like McDonald’s would end up on this list, but as of this fall, the chain started to sell pumpkin spice lattes, both iced and hot. This is great news for all Park students who can’t drive or don’t have cars, because it’s within walking distance of the high school. If your bus comes early and you’re craving a bit of fall, you can head over and pick one up in just ten minutes, like I did. A small pumpkin latte is only $3.75, the cheapest on this list. The latte has a nice balance of pumpkin to coffee, although the pumpkin flavor is a little unusual. You can tell it’s artificial, but that doesn’t ruin the experience for me.The coffee is good, and the sweet pumpkin adds a lot. For the price and convenience, I’d definitely recommend this drink. Is it Gilmore approved? Try it yourself and find out!