REVIEW: New Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL) Made with Real Pumpkin

I’m about to destroy all the credibility I’ve amassed in the last month (none) with a massive confession. I’ve never had a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte. Not even a sip. I’ve been the reigning pumpkin champion since anointing myself so a decade ago, but have always passed on Starbucks’ PSL. Location was a primary factor. I grew up near more Dunkin Donuts and have pledged my allegiance to their brand for years. I once flirted with a DD clerk and had her fill me up a cup that was at least 50% pumpkin spice syrup. Now in my elder years (I’ll be dead in a week), I run about a 50/50 split between DD and Starbucks. With Starbucks’ announcement that the PSL has been reformulated to include real pumpkin puree, it’s time for me to jump onboard the PSL train.


The Starbucks PSL doesn’t *officially* hit menus until September 8th, but you can obtain early access if you download the Starbucks app for your smartphone. The app makes you enter a password to obtain your early access pass. I guessed “password,” but was denied. No worries – the app immediately informs you that the password is “pumpkin.” (I’m an idiot!) Just sheepishly display your pass to your barista while they pass judgment about your life’s priorities.


Coffee is a difficult item to review. We all have our preferences on types and amounts of dairy, dairy-free alternatives, and sweeteners. Partially because I didn’t want to taint the review and partially because I panicked, I simply said “I’ll have a pumpkin spice latte.” Thankfully, the only question asked was whether or not I wanted whipped cream. Of course, dummy.


Before I begin, remember that I have no prior experience with Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte. I’m reviewing this as a brand-new consumer, no added sugars, no extra dairy, no substitutions. Take a look at the published recipe for the new PSL. The “pumpkin sauce” (yum!) in the new recipe contains actual pumpkin puree. The identifiable pumpkin pie flavors in the sauce are the deeper and bolder ones, favoring nutmeg and clove over the sweeter cinnamon. I know there’s an alarming amount of sugar in this, but it’s not cloying at all. The familiar bold roasted coffee flavor still powers through the flavored syrups. The PSL tastes extremely creamy, which I want to attribute partly to the pumpkin puree. It has an earthy flavor that pumpkin purists will appreciate. All these pumpkin flavors combine beautifully with the vanilla syrup. My barista forgot to put pumpkin pie spices on my whipped cream 🙁 , but I’ll survive I guess.

I really enjoyed Starbucks’ new Pumpkin Spice Latte. I’m willing to bet PSL junkees will complain that it’s not the same, and I suspect the old recipe may have tasted sweeter. I prefer my coffee dark and my pumpkin pumpkin, so this product is for me.

My Ability to Hack Passwords Rating: 0.5 out of 10
How Hard I Was Judged By My Barista Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 out of 10

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4 Responses

  1. Bryan says:

    For extra PSL awesomeness, launch 4 gallons of pumpkin spice creamer right in there to ensure full pumpkin flavor. You can also claim a full 10 points in barista judging when she sees you dumping outside product into her masterpiece.

    • Junk Male says:

      Bryan, you are a pioneer. Remember exclusively surviving off DD pumpkin spice coffees at Syracuse? “Can you just give me a cup full of pumpkin shots?” “Yes.” “Ok.”

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