Whether you're ready or not, fall is officially here. If you're like me, and you want to know exactly what's in your food and drinks, you might be wondering: How is the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latté made? This epic fall favorite starts with signature espresso and milk. The base ingredients are then highlighted by flavor notes of pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove to create this incredible viral beverage, according to Starbucks. If you want to go all in, you can get it topped with whipped cream and real pumpkin-pie spices.
And, the good news is that since 2015 the PSL has been made with real pumpkin. If you didn't know, the fan favorite PSL, which debuted in 2003, reportedly did not contain any pumpkin at all during its first 12 years. However, PSL devotees were having none if it. Millennials in particular are holding the food and beverage industry to a higher standard — while the Chicago Tribune reported that a new poll from Michigan State University’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources revealed that "the public lags far behind current scientific understanding when it comes to food," millennials have become the catalyst for massive changes to the food industry, according to Spoon University.
The online publication reported that organic food sales have tripled in the past decade. And, while knowing where your food comes from used to be just a cheeky sketch on Portlandia (remember when they visited the chicken farm to meet the chickens and make sure they were living happy lives?), for most millennials the origin of food plays a pretty big factor in whether or not they will eat it. In response, Starbucks responded in 2015 by changing the recipe to a more natural base, and posting all of the ingredients online.
Here's what's in your PSL: Espresso, milk, pumpkin spice flavored sauce (sugar, condensed skim milk, pumpkin puree, less than two percent fruit and vegetable juice for color, natural flavors, annatto for color, potassium sorbate — a preservative, and salt), whipped cream (light whipping cream that contains cream, mono and diglycerides, and carrageenan, vanilla syrup (sugar, water, natural flavors, potassium sorbate, and citric acid, and pumpkin-spice topping (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and clove).
According to an article on Today.com, you probably like this drink because it makes you feel happy, kind of like a drug that induces nostalgia. "The spices you associate with fall — nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves — help bring all those happy thoughts and memories to mind," NBC News Health and Nutrition Editor Madelyn Fernstrom told Today. "Sipping a Pumpkin Spice Latte is one way to enjoy them. It connotes happy moments."
Now that you know what's in it, you can feel even happier about getting your PSL fix, unless you have celiac disease. Unfortunately, despite the fact that the ingredients are gluten-free, this drink may not be entirely gluten-free due to being prepared with the same equipment used to make drinks with gluten — so there's the chance of cross-contamination. But, if you just have to get yourself one, because FOMO, you can use Nima to test your food and drinks for the presence of gluten in your drink. Jenny Finke from Good For You, Gluten-Free, has been testing various Starbucks drinks for gluten with her Nima, and posting the results to Twitter.
And, if you're suffering through the heatwave that is gripping the West Coast, Starbucks hasn't forgotten about you. The PSL also comes iced so you can at least pretend it's almost fall without totally melting as you devour your PSL.