Spice Up Your Life: Pumpkin Spice Latte Review

By May Mansour | 10/20/14 4:00am

Colors of the world, SPICE UP YOUR LIFE! Every boy and girl, SPICE UP YOUR LIFE! People of the world, SPICE UP YOUR LIFE!

JK, JK. As much as I’d love to write a story on Posh Spice’s role in revolutionizing contemporary music and fashion (She revamped the skinny-mini leather skirt and A-line bob cut, HELLO!), this story is about a different spice — pumpkin spice, to be exact.

Believe it or not, this weekend was my first time experiencing the autumnal phenomenon that is the pumpkin spice latte. Like most people, I imagined the drink was made exclusive to the post-modern warrior. You know, that person who enjoys drinking a pumpkin latte without any actual pumpkin content because it somehow represents millennial existentialism and disillusionment with the patriarchy … or something like that. So this drink’s media rap had me a little like:

Anyway, I was still curious to see if the “PSL” lived up to its celebrity name. So I did some digging, and by digging I mean drinking every pumpkin-flavored tea/coffee in Hanover and praying I came out of it with my dignity (and small intestine) intact.

King Arthur Flour

Pumpkin Tea: THIS TEA SMELLS ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE, but I regret to inform you that it is pretty much just nice-smelling hot water. It definitely is not the most flavorful tea in the tea tin, but it will make your tummy feel nice and warm on a cold winters day. So if it’s 10 degrees outside, and your belly needs a warmin’, grab some KAF pumpkin tea. I’d recommend adding a shot or two of pumpkin for some extra flavor.

Grade: B- (But work with it. It has potential for greatness.)

London Fog + Pumpkin Shot: So this is pretty much pumpkin tea with steamed milk and an added shot of pumpkin flavor. It’s definitely my favorite pumpkin-flavored drink at KAF. It has everything the pumpkin tea does, but with an added kick of pumpkin and a nice creaminess from the milk. It was definitely still not as sweet as I would’ve liked, though.

Grade: B (Try it with soy milk. Unless you have a soy allergy. In which case, don’t do that.)

Macchiato + Pumpkin Shot: This drink was exceptionally disgusting. In KAF’s defense though, I was expecting a Starbucks-like macchiato. And I really like the Starbucks macchiato. Turns out the KAF macchiato is just espresso with a splash of foam. I am by no means a fan of espresso. This drink was super bitter and had the most bizarre aftertaste. So if you are anything like me, stray from this drink. Seriously, I don’t know what I was thinking.

Grade: D- (Try a latte with a shot of pumpkin if you want to find a middle ground between the macchiato and London Fog.


So I walked into Starbucks and ordered my first pumpkin spice latte … andpumpkin spice frappuccino. And when the barista asked if I wanted some whipped cream, I replied:

(Not really, though.)

Pumpkin Spice Latte: Okay, I’ll admit, this was pretty good. I can definitely taste the pumpkin even though there is no actual pumpkin in the drink. I have not yet come to terms with the concept’s sketchiness. The latte has a bit of a strange aftertaste and is really sweet with a watery consistency. Nonetheless, I would probably order it again. And it’s preferable to everything I had at KAF.

Grade: B+

Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino: I have always been a closeted fan of the caramel frappuccino, but this pumpkin spice frappe comes nowhere near its caramel counterpart. It’s way too strong for my taste, and the cinnamon definitely trumps the flavor of the pumpkin. It’s still really sweet, but I don’t think pumpkin flavor is suited for an iced drink.

Grade: C+ (Try going without the whipped cream and cinnamon.)

Dirt Cowboy#4

Pumpkin spice latte:

Grade: A-



I thought Dirt had won, I really did, until I found perfection at Umpleby’s. The latte was rich and thick, with a consistency similar to that of Dirt’s. Unlike the Starbucks latte, it tasted like real pumpkin. It was not as sweet as Dirt’s latte, which I enjoyed because I didn’t get sick of drinking it. This was regrettably my third latte of the afternoon, and I fully expected to puke at this point. But I didn’t, and that should say something about the quality of this drink.

It has a dark and very slightly bitter aftertaste, and it’s everything a pumpkin-flavored latte should be – simple, rich, tasty and not overwhelming. Also the employees (well, at least the one I spoke to) were super nice. So yeah, Umpleby’s definitely takes the cake … or the pie … whatever.

Grade: A++ (extra plus added for non-hyperbolic description of this latte’s amazingness)

Also, someone left this napkin at the table I was sitting at:



All photos taken by May Mansour for The Dartmouth.

May Mansour