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The Pumpkin Spice Latte Smackdown

by Stephanie Suire on October 20, 2011

About two weeks ago, I stopped by Starbucks on my way to work and ordered a Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL).  Since I like my coffee burning hot and needed an immediate caffeine jolt to jump-start my morning, I took a drink while I was driving off and waited for the immense taste sensation to wash over me.

Huh.  It didn’t taste as good as I remembered. 

Ever since I ordered an ICED pumpkin spice latte back in September that tasted the nasty residue from the bottom of my spice cabinet, my obsession with pumpkin spice has withered.  

Notice I did not say my obsession with pumpkin has withered – just pumpkin spice lattes!  My obsession with pumpkin is still growing daily, which continues to annoy my husband.  Last week it was pumpkin pancakes and this week I made Pumpkin Spice cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese frosting (thanks to Courtney at Sweet Tooth Sweet Life for the recipe) and Trey was excited to try one until he realized that an entire can of pumpkin had gone into the batter.  To his credit, he did take one bite of my cupcake and declared that it was “not horrible”.  I choose to celebrate the little victories and be pleased with the fact that he did not spit it back out, like Tallen does with 90% of the vegetables I offer him. 

Anyway, I am not alone in my opinion that Pumpkin Spice Lattes at Starbucks taste a little fake this year.   I have noticed on Twitter and the blogosphere that several people are not as pleased with their favorite fall beverage.  In fact, I was told that the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Dunkin’ Donuts was waaaayyyy better than Starbucks.  Really?  I have actually never had a PSL from Dunkin Donuts… until today. 

On the way back from running some errands on my lunch hour, I drove through the only Dunkin’ Donuts location that I know exists in Dallas (meaning there is not a store on my normal route to work and I have not bothered to drive out of my way for my morning coffee).  I took a sip, waiting to be overwhelmed by the amazing taste.  It was good, but not mind-blowing.  Putting in my cup holder in my car, I drove back to work and carried it upstairs to my office where I added 1/2 a packet of  Stevia. 

I took another sip and this time it was wonderful!  Admittedly, I like my coffee on the sweet side and the added sweetener helped bring out the pumpkin flavor.  Within 5 minutes, my entire PSL was gone and I wanted more. 

The Dunkin Donuts where I got my coffee is actually right across the street from a Starbucks, so I almost drove through Starbucks and bought their PSL so I could have my own blind taste test.  Alas, I needed to get back to work and spending double the amount on overpriced lattes was just not in my plans for today.  Neither was being double caffeinated for the remainder of the afternoon. 

This weekend on our drive back from East Texas after our 16 hour day on the set, I told Trey that I had a confession to make.  He looked at me worriedly, then I hesitantly told him that I was looking forward to the end of Pumpkin Spice Lattes at Starbucks.  He looked surprised, then asked me one question, “Why?”

Because that means it is time for Gingerbread Lattes

Starbucks Gingerbread Latte

It reminded me of a tweet I saw a few weeks ago by Jayme at Confection Confessions:

JaymeVonCupcake: I know you guys are sick of my pumpkin fetish. It will be over soon, I promise. Then you get to hear all about my gingerbread obsession.

Now I’ve never met Jayme in person but after reading her blog, I think that we should meet for dessert and within an hour we would be best friends.  If you are ever in Dallas and need to satisfy your sweet tooth, check out Jayme’s blog.  Her dessert reviews are to die for!  After running 13.1 miles this weekend, I think I am going to reward myself with a pumpkin whoopie pie from Tart Bakery or track down the Cup Cakin Machine food truck for a  pumpkin carrot cupcakeOr maybe both.  Mmmmm.

Have you had a Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks this year?  What about from Dunkin Donuts?  Which do you prefer? Maybe I should give them both up and go for a Pumpkin Spice Smoothie instead.   Are you as excited as I am for Gingerbread Lattes?

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Erin @ The Grass Skirt October 20, 2011 at 7:18 PM

I’ve always preferred DD over Starbucks. Always! I get the decaf coffee with just one pump of pumpkin syrup and find that it is more than sweet enough. I look forward to it every year!


2 Steffi October 20, 2011 at 11:28 PM

Egg nogg lattes soon too! Yay!
I have to say I also prefer DD pumpkin latte to the SB one. BUT it also depends on the location… Some places they jsut make them better! Time for some QC testing? :)


3 Jen@FoodFamilyFitness October 21, 2011 at 5:43 AM

I’ve been loving the DD version of the iced pumpkin spiced latte’s this year. For some reason Starbuck’s just wasn’t as good as i remembered.


4 jone lara July 5, 2014 at 8:40 AM

I’ve always preferred DD over Starbucks. Always! I get the decaf coffee with just one pump of pumpkin syrup and find that it is more than sweet enough. I look forward to it every yea


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