Pumpkin Spice Season has just started to rear its little orange head, which means that all the regular questions about its poster child have started to emerge. When is the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte coming back? What's even in the PSL, anyway? Is there real pumpkin in the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte? Up until now, the answer to that last question has been no — but big news broke today for lovers of the seasonal favorite: The 2015 Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte does have actual pumpkin in it. And that's not the only change they're making this year, either — it will also be free of caramel color. Start brewing up that espresso, because we've got some lattes to drink.
The announcement comes via Peter Dukes in a post on the My Starbucks Idea blog dated August 17, 2015. Dukes, who is both Starbucks' director of espressos America (best job title ever) and the inventor of the hallowed seasonal treat, writes that they took their cues for the PSL's new ingredients list from the people who matter the most: Those who go wild for the drink every year. According to Dukes:
After hearing from customers and partners about ingredients, we took another look at this beverage and why we created it so many years ago. It was simple — espresso, perfectly steamed milk, warm fall spices with delicious flavor of pumpkin pie that reminds you of the cool, crisp days of autumn. So, with that great taste you know and love, the PSL returns this fall, and this time it will be made with real pumpkin and without caramel coloring.
Heck. And yes.
Much ado has been made in the past about the fact that Pumpkin Spice Lattes — and, indeed, most pumpkin spice-flavored things — rarely contain any actual pumpkin. Instead, they get their distinctive, fall-inspired flavor profile from the use of the spices frequently found in pumpkin pies: Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. The Starbucks PSL hasn't been alone in its lack of honest-to-goodness pumpkin-ness, though; indeed, a lot of pumpkin pies don't technically have any pumpkin in them, either. As Forbes noted in 2013, the canned pureed pumpkin many of us use to make pumpkin pie filling is made from Dickinson pumpkins — guess what? Dickinson pumpkins aren't actually pumpkins. They're a type of squash. They're not too dissimilar from butternut squashes, actually — and the truth is that sugar pumpkins are to watery and fibrous to make a good pie. Butternut squashes and Dickinson "pumpkins," however, are the perfect texture for pie-making.
So the lack of pumpkin in all those pumpkin spice-flavored offerings that take over the world during the autumn months isn't actually as big a deal as you might think. That said, though, I am still a fan of all things pumpkin-y and spicey, so the fact that there's going to be real pumpkin in this year's iteration of the PSL is pretty major for me (or, y'know, as major as a coffee drink is capable of being). True, we don't know when we'll actually be able to get our inaugural PSL of the season — but since all signs point to soon, I'm willing to wait for just a little while longer.
In the meantime, straight from Peter Dukes and Starbucks themselves, here's the ingredients list for 2015's almighty Pumpkin Spice Latte:
Take your pick between the many options available, from whole milk to coconut milk.
3. Pumpkin Spice Flavored Sauce
Which, by the way, contains: Sugar, condensed skim milk, and pumpkin puree (emphasis mine), plus two percent or less of fruit and vegetable juice for color, annatto (also for color), potassium sorbate (a preservative), and salt.
3. Starbucks Vanilla Syrup
For the curious, the vanilla syrup consists of sugar, water, natural flavors, potassium sorbate, and citric acid.
4. Whipped Cream
Sure, the whip is optional... but if you're going to get a PSL, you may as well go all out, right?
5. Pumpkin Spice Topping
That is, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.
Happy Pumpkin Spice Season, everyone!
Images: Starbucks; Giphy (5)