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The pumpkin spice latte: delight or disaster?

Art by Geena San Diego

Now that the wondrous season of autumn has come upon us, I feel as though it is time to share my very controversial opinion on a fall staple and worldwide favorite. From a very young age, I have never understood the craze behind the “Pumpkin Spice Latte.” What was this magical drink that put nearly every Starbucks goer in a trance from early September to late October? I can understand pumpkin pie or pumpkin cheesecake, maybe even pumpkin mousse trifles, but pumpkin in an overly caffeinated and sweetened hot beverage? Now that was quite baffling. Henceforth, each “PSL” season would come and go and as grown adults quite literally fought over the last pump of pumpkin spice syrup, I would always stick to my usual birthday cake pop.

However, this spooky season I have gone against my better judgment and have decided to join the crowd of middle-aged white women in trying this beloved beverage.

Then the fateful day came, it was around noon on the first Saturday of October and it was time to set out on this expedition. I put on my best fall fanatic outfit (a cable knit sweater with skinny jeans and an infinity scarf), so as to blend in with the habitat, and set out. It would be a long and hard journey, but I was willing to make the sacrifice.

Things were already going downhill. On the way to the local Starbucks, there was a VERY stubborn stoplight that caused our 3 min GPS estimate to change to 4 and ½ minutes, a true setback. Luckily, I had ordered the hallowed drink ahead of time using the Starbucks ™ App (not sponsored) which made up for the lost time. After practically wrestling my way through all the adults who just NEEDED to be standing at the counter to wait for their afternoon coffee (PSA calm down everyone we’ll all get our coffee, no one wants to steal your cold brew Janice), I finally acquired the prized drink. However, our journey doesn't end here since I decided to wait the long 3 and ½ minute drive home before trying the pumpkin spice latte for dramatic effect.

At last, I arrived home and sat down at my very professional coffee taste-testing table (my desk) and was utterly horrified when I opened the lid and found the whipped cream I was promised was non existent, I almost gave up right then and there, but I knew I had to do it for “the scream”. I popped the lid back on and with a shaky hand brought the cup to my lips, then ever so slightly tipped it until the warm coffee met my mouth. It was sweet, I identified notes of both cinnamon and nutmeg, there was great pumpkin flavor as well (not too overpowering, but not completely unidentifiable) and overall felt like I was drinking autumn from a Starbucks cup. It made me feel like snuggling up in a flannel print blanket and rewatching all the Harry Potter movies while the trees slowly turned a beautiful sunset orange outside my window. BUT THEN, my tastebuds were hit with an overbearing spice-filled aftertaste (to say the least it felt like someone was shoving ginger down my throat) and a bitter-y tang that took a bit away from all the wonderful flavors I had tasted previously. Such a shame, for a split second I thought the millennials were onto something.

Finally, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, what is my final opinion of the idolized Pumpkin Spice Latte *drumroll please* I know, I know it seems like a very bland conclusion to a journey as extravagant as this one, but to be quite honest it’s the best way to put my opinion into words. Would I ever order it again? Probably not. Did it make me throw up? No. Do I still think the “PSL” stans are crazy and the drink is kind of overrated? Absolutely, but there’s not much else to say. From someone who enjoys pumpkin pie, it was just okay, not amazing, not disgusting. HOWEVER, you should DEFINITELY come back in December to read about my “Pumpkin Spice Latte” the Peppermint Mocha. My gosh, that drink is like Christmas in a coffee cup, sheer perfection. *Daydreams of the wonderful winter days of the Peppermint Mocha* maybe I CAN understand where the “PSL” fanatics are coming from...

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