Is The Pumpkin Spice Latte Actually Good? A Coffee Expert Weighs In On Fall's Most Basic Beverage
Love it or hate it, most people tend to feel pretty strongly about the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte. But if laypeople have such bold opinions about it, what might someone who really knows their coffee have to say about it? BuzzFeed sought to answer that question by having Wes Johansen, their resident coffee expert, taste test the Pumpkin Spice Latte in both regular and iced forms. The results are both hilarious and somewhat surprising, so if you’ve ever wondered whether your coffee snob friends are onto something when they deride you and your basic fall beverage, now’s your chance to find out.
When we last saw Johansen, he was telling us which cheap coffees are palatable in a pinch versus which ones we should probably bury in a ditch and never speak of again; this time, he’s zeroing in on one brand, and one brand only: Starbucks. First up is the hot PSL, which Johansen describes as smelling intensely of nutmeg. This is a plus for the nutmeg-loving coffee aficionado — although on the less positive side, he also describes the drink as “alarmingly orange.” Although the drink doesn’t taste much like coffee anymore, Johansen ultimately admits that it’s actually pretty good; “I can see how you might get hooked on these,” he remarks, giving it a respectable score of three out of five stars.
The real surprise, though? Is the Iced Pumpkin Spice Latte. Sure, at its core, it’s kind of illogical — if the PSL is a fall beverage, and fall is when the weather turns cold, why would I want to drink something cold? — but that aside, Johansen appreciates that you can taste the actual coffee in it better. Furthermore, unlike most iced coffee drinks, it actually improves as the ice melts and waters it down. The result? Four out of five stars: A “winner” for the “postmodern individual.” Ah, coffee pretentiousness at its finest!
The video is highly entertaining, so I suggest watching it yourself. Bonus points if you figure out how to work Johansen’s description of the American coffee industry as “build your own monstrosity” into day-to-day conversation:
Although I probably would have found the video even more interested if it had compared pumpkin spice drinks from a bunch of different chains — Dunkin’ Donuts, Cinnabon, and so on — I’m intrigued by Johansen’s idea of using the PSL as creamer. How else might we be able to put the PSL to use, other than drinking it straight? Here are a few ideas, if you’re feeling creative:
1. Autumnal Smoothie
Smoothies don’t have to be fruit-flavored. I suspect Gimme Some Oven’s oatmeal cookie smoothie recipe would taste divine with a little splash of iced PSL tossed into the mix.
2. Pumpkin Spice Face Mask
We already know that smearing food on your face can be as healthy for you as eating it, so why not harness the beautifying powers of pumpkin, milk, and honey for the ultimate at-home spa day? Just, y’know, wait for it to cool first.
3. Pumpkin Spice Cookies
Just toss a little of your PSL into your next batch of cookies. It’ll add a certain je ne sais quoi.
One of these days, it’s going to happen. You know it will. Just accept it when it does.