National Coffee Day: Pumpkin Spice Lattes — Heaven In A Cup Or 16 Ounces Worth Of Pumpkin-Flavored Ass?

Today is National Coffee Day! Also it’s fall! Which means, well, TIS THE SEASON of endless prattering on about Pumpkin Spice Lattes, the world’s most oddly controversial beverage.

Thus, we at The Frisky decided we’d just get it the hell out of the way, and each come out with our personal stance on the PSL. Because we know you’ve been dying to know.


Fuck Starbucks. Their coffee tastes burnt to me, so their version of the PSL tastes like burnt chemically-pumpkin with an ass-like aftertaste. Generally speaking, though, while I love, love, love, love pumpkin and other squash and have nothing but love for the spices that supposedly go in a PSL, I would much rather sip on a burning hot salted caramel latte or cinnamon chili latte whilst eating a massive piece of pumpkin pie. I mean, if I’m craving pumpkin, give me pumpkin, you know? This isn’t about knocking basics — I shop at J. Crew and post way too many photos of my freshly manicured toes to talk shit. PSLs just don’t satisfy my pumpkin craving, because they take like butthole. If I had a butthole craving, I’m sure I would adore them!

But while we’re on the subject of hot seasonal beverages, allow me to use this as an excuse to briefly rant about how espresso beverages are rarely hot enough for cold weather. That’s because only the espresso is boiling hot, as determined by the espresso machine, while the milk, which takes up the bulk of the drink, is often under-heated by the poorly paid barista. I am sympathetic to their plight having been a poorly paid barista myself, but I absolutely hate it when my $6 fancy coffee shop beverage is heated to the point where it’s immediately gulp-able, because the minute I walk outside into the cold, it drops in temperature and is no longer comforting and warm and satisfying. I mean, drinking a lukewarm coffee beverage on a cold ass day fucking sucks. Which is why I always tell my coffee place to make my drink extra, extra hot. If you’re one of those people who would die without a PSL in your gloved mitts, I highly suggest asking for that venti cup of pumpkin spice ass extra hot.


I don’t like flavored coffee. I just don’t. It has a weird aftertaste. I don’t really like flavored vodka either. I’m good with like, putting actual cinnamon in a latte (totally delicious you should try it), or putting cayenne and cinnamon in hot chocolate which is the best always, but that syrup stuff kind of tastes painful to me. So I don’t really care for the PSL! Right now I’m just drinking regular coffee with a dash of instant espresso, as is my wont.

I will say that I am less horrified by the PSL than I am by the Peppermint Mocha, but that is due to my firm believe that mint is a thing you spit out, like toothpaste or gum.

However, I couldn’t give a crap less about them being basic or what they “mean” or say about a person who likes them. I don’t have the energy to be worried about that. Plus if I were to start going around worrying about other people’s drink choices being to “basic” or boring, then those people could probably call me out on my tendency to just order chicken sandwiches, chicken wings or chicken caesars almost literally every time I go out to eat. Which is not especially riveting either.

I will, however, eat all of the pumpkin pie.


The pumpkin spice latte can die in a fire. I don’t feel this way because of the people who buy them: Basic your heart out, everyone. I am super basic. I’m a white person on the north side of Chicago. The problem is not the ethos surrounding PSLs, which I actually kind of have fondness for. The problem is the latte itself. The first time I tasted a PSL, I was like:


IT TASTES LIKE BURNING, GUYS. And beyond the fact that it tastes like burning (I do not mean this figuratively! It’s like they dumped the taste of burnt nutmeg onto the taste of already-burnt Starbucks coffee), I had no idea that there wasn’t going to be a pumpkin flavor. Had I known this, I would never have even bothered getting a PSL because dirty chais exist. If you want to drink something that has fall spices and espresso, why would you not just drink a dirty chai? What is wrong with everyone?


Every year the PSL comes back, I get caught up in the excitement and want to like it so bad. I like pumpkin, I like coffee, I should like that combination in a festive cup. I tell them to go light on the syrup, get skim milk, dilute it with extra espresso but no matter what it always tastes like a hot cup of sugar milk. That’s probably be appealing to someone who doesn’t like coffee, but that’s not me.

I’ve found that a grande dark roast with a single pump of pumpkin appeals more to my bitter taste and costs about $3 less so I feel like I’m getting away with something. That tastes better.


I have a pretty strong aversion to all things pumpkin, including the pie, which looks like cat vomit. A PSl, to me, tastes like a liquid version of said pie. It’s too sweet, cloying, autumnal in all the ways that your local CVS is: full of plastic leaves and false cheer about a time of year that is basically the precursor to winter’s death grip.

I love flavored coffee, don’t get me wrong. My standard order is something of the hazelnut variety, with a shitload of cream and one Splenda to keep it cute. This is the coffee order of a child, of someone who just got used to drinking coffee and thinks that it makes them sophisticated. I accept that mantle with pride. But, putting “pumpkin” “spice” flavoring into a drink that could very easily be a vessel for so many other artificial flavors feels fucked up. Don’t ruin it! If you want to revel in the cozy beginnings of both fall and cuffing season, get your regular drink and eat some candy corn instead. Trust me, it’s much better that way.


I only drink them once or twice a Fall season as a special treat, otherwise I’ll end up $10,000 in dental work debt because of the amount of sugar they contain. I even ask them to only put one or two pumps in my order (the normal amount is four pumps – of that artificial high-fructose lighter fluid syrup that is the pumpkin flavor). I am not a fanatic, but I do like them in moderation. I am more annoyed by the annoyance everyone has towards PSLs than the damn drink itself.