I Tried Starbucks' 2023 Fall Drink Menu & The Pumpkin Spice Latte Has Some Major Competition
One was like dessert in a cup. ☕
This Opinion article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.
Starbucks fans, it's finally here! The pumpkin spice latte is back once again, along with a cavalcade of new and returning drinks that all celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the seasonal beverage's creation.
Not only will the beloved drink that is the subject of much love and derision, the Pumpkin Spice Latte, be showing its face at your local Starbucks, but it'll be joined by a crew of five other drinks with a litany of flavours.
From hot to cold, there are a bunch of fall flavours being peddled by the coffee chain that will comfort you as the cold winds of September and October begin to take over the country.
So, to get an idea of what each drink tasted like, I got the opportunity to try them all out before they hit participating locations across Canada and there are a few I would have every day, while others I would maybe hesitate to jump into right off the bat.
And yes, some even come close to dethroning the Pumpkin Spice Latte.
1. The Pumpkin Spice Latte
The Pumpkin Spice Latte.
Let's all wish the Pumpkin Spice Latte, a.k.a. the PSL, a happy twentieth birthday! Of course, this drink will be making its return to Starbucks locations across Canada with its iconic mix of creamy sweetness and comforting autumnal flavours.
It's made out of espresso, steamed milk, real pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove flavours and all finished with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of pumpkin spice.
Of course, when you get one of these, it's really hard not to gulp down all the whipped cream, at least for me, and that creaminess of the topping really did a whole lot to make it feel like you're drinking a slice of pumpkin pie with whipped cream on top.
But you don't need me to tell you what the PSL tastes like! It's been around for so long, you probably already have your mind made up on it.
For me? I like them!
2. Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew
The Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew.
And as anyone knows about fall in Canada, it can vary from burning hot to very cold in a heartbeat, so having a cold drink option on the menu does a great job of preparing you for those sneaky warm days.
The Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew is made with cold brew, vanilla syrup and a pumpkin cream cold foam on top, all garnished with a sprinkle of pumpkin spice.
This drink is less sweet, given the strength of the cold brew, but with the addition of the creamy foam as well as the vanilla syrup that cuts the bitterness of the coffee, it still feels and tastes like a nice festive treat.
And as someone who loves iced coffee, yes, even in the winter, I can definitely see this being something I order throughout the upcoming fall season.
Maybe even more than the PSL given my love for cold coffee.
3. Iced Pumpkin Cream Chai Tea Latte
The Iced Pumpkin Cream Chai Tea Latte.
One of the coffee chain's new drinks is the Iced Pumpkin Cream Chai Tea Latte, which I would slot into almost being a dessert-level drink with the amount of sweetness it has.
This drink is made with chai tea, pumpkin cream cold foam and a sprinkle of pumpkin spice and it's a powerful, creamy little cup of sweetness.
When I took a sip, I was immediately into it. It was comforting and delectable and really went down smoothly and easily. I will admit that, despite how good it was, I don't think I could drink a whole cup of these, at least not on the regular.
However, if you're someone who goes to Starbucks to get that sweet little jolt, this might actually have the PSL a little bit worried.
The drink tasted like a dessert and if I drank a full cup of this in the morning or afternoon, there was no way I'd be able to survive the sugar crash that would follow.
However, sipping this in the passenger seat on a road trip, now that would be the move.
4. Iced Apple Crisp Oat Shaken Espresso
The Iced Apple Crisp Oat Shaken Espresso.
Pumpkin isn't the only thing that blooms and blossoms in the fall. Anyone who's been on earth will know that September, October, and November mean crisp, tasty apples.
And Starbucks is well aware of that with another one of their new beverages.
The Iced Apple Crisp Oat Shaken Espresso is a bit of a mouthful in more than one way. It's the Starbucks Blonde espresso mixed with apple, cinnamon and brown sugar flavours, all shaken up and topped with an "oat beverage."
If you're looking for a fall fix but are looking for something more on the lighter side, flavour-wise, this is your ticket. The light crispness of the apple shines through, along with the absence of dairy, making this a wonderful coffee drink for the fall for those who aren't into the whole pumpkin spice craze.
That being said, I personally think I'm more into the richer flavours at Starbucks, which this one doesn't do as well as the PSL or the other drinks on this list.
5. Apple Crisp Oat Macchiato
The Apple Crisp Oat Macchiato.
And with that, another returning favourite comes to the party!
From years past, the Apple Crisp Oat Macchiato is also made with apple, cinnamon and brown sugar, but the 2023 version is decked out with an apple drizzle that sits on top of the drink, looking very fun and festive.
If you're a fan of this drink's appearance in previous years, this will probably be a wonderful homecoming for you. But for my money, I think you might just be better off getting the new Shaken Espresso drink. While that one doesn't have the apple drizzle on top, it does execute the flavours a lot better than this drink.
Granted, this drink is by no means bad, just not exactly my bag, especially when compared to the newer, and in my opinion, more improved edition of the latest seasonal offering.
And so, while we see the end of summer on the horizon (sort of) we also have a full season of fun festive drinks from the folks over at Starbucks.
While a few were not going to make my regular rotation, I should also be clear that not a single one of them was by any means bad. I could have drank all of them and been a happy camper! I just had preferences within the rollout of the new menu.
Of course, Starbucks isn't the only one bringing the the pumpkin spice back.
Krispy Kreme recently announced that they're also jumping on the train of the autumnal flavour with a slate of pumpkin spice donuts and coffee available across their stores.
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