Pumpkin spice latte is the fall drink we love (or sometimes just love to hate). Made famous by that mega chain of coffee worship we all know, it's the harbinger of all things autumn. Some people dread its seasonal arrival, but hundreds of thousands line up for it every fall.
Originally developed in early 2003—before the pumpkin spice-everything craze had begun—the first version of this drink contained spices, but no actual pumpkin. It was a huge success, leading to many other pumpkin spice-flavored foods and beverages. By 2015, the recipe was changed to include actual pumpkin puree as an ingredient.
Regular coffee consists of grounds filtered through water, but a latte contains steamed milk. In the case of pumpkin spice latte, the coffee is actually hot espresso mixed with milk, pumpkin puree, vanilla, and warming fall spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and clove. It's topped with sweet whipped cream and a light dusting of more spice.
The overwhelming popularity of the PSL has meant that its appearance at the famous coffee chain begins earlier and earlier each season. In fact, it's being served at the end of August, far ahead of regular pumpkin season. For those who are not ready to face all things pumpkin so early, that might not be good news. But for the far larger majority who eagerly await the drink each year, there's even better news: the pumpkin spice latte is actually quite easy to make at home at a far more affordable price. Nor will you be at the mercy of the store's launch schedule.
A few simple, pantry staples added to your regular morning coffee can turn a regular pot of Joe into the beloved seasonal pumpkin creation anytime you want.
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened pumpkin puree
- 1 tablespoon sugar, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup espresso
- Sweetened whipped cream, for topping
- Add the unsweetened pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling), sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, vanilla and espresso to a pot. Note that, if you do not have espresso, you can use a strong coffee.
- Bring to a simmer on a medium low flame and whisk occasionally until the pumpkin puree has been incorporated and the sugar and spices dissolved.
- Add the milk to a second pot or to a microwave safe jar and heat just enough to warm through.
- Whisk the milk vigorously until it begins to foam or froth. Alternately, if you use a jar, put the lid on and shake vigorously until it begins to foam.
- Pour the hot coffee mixture into a mug and then pour in the frothy milk.
- Top with whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon, if desired.