Fall is the time of year almost all coffee drinkers look forward to. It is finally time the weather begins to cool down and the comfort of those cozy, spiced flavorings become an option in our daily coffee fix. And believe it or not, the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte isn't the only way to celebrate fall.
I, with a couple fellow Spoonies, visited chain coffee shops and tried most of the fall drinks so you don't have to. Your wallet and your tastebuds will thank us.
9. Coffee Bean Pumpkin Chai Ice Blended
I was a bit worried I would run into super sweet, artificially tasting drinks when I committed to writing this article. This drink happened to bring that nightmare to life. It wasn't the worst drink I've ever had, but I almost wish it didn't have any pumpkin flavoring in it. The chai flavors that come out are nice, but the pumpkin spices (which I am guessing is the sweetener) tasted fake.
8. Peet's Pumpkin Javiva
Okay so my fellow Spoonies and I may have goofed on this because we assumed it would have coffee. But no, it was not similar to a PSL Frap from Starbucks. It didn't have any shots of espresso. Surprisingly though, it wasn't bad. Very sweet, vanilla-y pumpkin flavor that would be refreshing for someone wanting that fall flavor without the caffeine.
7. Starbucks Iced Pumpkin Spice Latte
This was my first ever Pumpkin Spice Latte experience and I was very unimpressed. This drink is severely hyped as coffee fans everywhere wait for those autumn months where this drink will finally be available.
So to be fair, I went in with high expectations, hoping this would be the holy grail of fall beverages. But, it fell short because of its sweet, aggressive pumpkin flavor. I don't know if it's just me, but I would pass on this surprisingly adored drink.
6. Dunkin' Donuts Iced Coffee + Cream + Pumpkin Spice
Once again, this was my first time trying an extremely popular drink from a chain restaurant on this list. But compared to the PSL, the iced coffee at Dunkin' is here year-round, it's just the flavorings that come in the fall.
If you haven't even been to Dunkin', their menu is very daunting. But thankfully, the lady who worked there was really helpful in putting together a drink that was perfect for what I was in the mood for. Her biggest tip though, was to NEVER get added sugar in the drink—just get an iced coffee with cream and a flavor.
And that's how we ended up with the iced coffee with cream and pumpkin flavoring. It is clearly not the highest quality coffee, but it's a nice to drink, and has subtle pumpkin flavor and is very smooth with the added cream.
5. Peet's Pumpkin Chai Latte
Chai drinks that are ordered at chain coffee shops are usually a miss for me. I'm very picky with my chai and don't like it to taste too sweet or too spiced, so it's difficult for me to find a chai I like.
I was pleasantly surprised when I ended up really enjoying this one. The flavor of pumpkin is subtle and really complements the spices in the chai. Compared to most chai drinks that taste good iced or hot, I'd definitely recommend you drink this one hot.
4. Starbucks Chile Mocha
Don't be naive like me and assume the "spice" from the Chile Mocha will be spices like nutmeg and cinnamon (often found in pumpkin flavorings). This drink has a legit chile kick! Ancho and cayenne chile spices are sprinkles on top of this creamy, decadent mocha and it is delicious. I didn't expect to like this drink, but Starbucks didn't disappoint with this fall drink addition.
3. Coffee Bean Pumpkin Latte
If I had the ultimate fall day, where it is overcast outside, I'm bundled up in blankets watching Halloweentown, I would want to have this drink in hand. Warm, cozy, comforting pumpkin flavor with just the right amount of latte "fluff." Simple description, for a delightfully simple drink. Make this apple galette while sipping on this latte and you'll have the perfect fall afternoon.
2. Coffee Bean Black Forest Ice Blended
Chocolate, cherry and espresso. Very few ingredients go better together. This drink may not be part of Coffee Bean's fall drink selection, but it was new to me, seemed fall-like, and it was the best ice blended drink we had tried all day.
Compared to most coffee drinks, this drink doesn't leave that icky espresso taste, but rather a cocoa, "I just drank a chocolate milkshake" taste. So if you're looking for something that you won't find at other coffee shops and are craving chocolate, this drink is the one for you.
1. Peet's Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Mocha
The pumpkin isn't strong in this drink, but boy was it good. Decadent, warm cocoa taste and just creamy enough with that whipped cream topping. Smooth for those needing the caffeine from the espresso, but not overpowering if that's not your thing. For pure coffee drinkers, this might be a little much, but I'm guessing, since you're reading this article, this drink would be right up your alley.
BONUS: Jamba Juice Pumpkin Smoothies
Okay, I know this isn't coffee, but it is a chain store, so I thought it was worthy to be included. While my fellow Spoonies and I were walking out of Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, we noticed a big sign on Jamba Juice about their Pumpkin Smash Smoothie. And since we were on a pumpkin-binge, we had to drop in.
I purchased a Pumpkin Smash and a Pumpkin Delight. These drinks were both, to put it simply, weird. Especially for the price, these smoothies aren't the way to go for your pumpkin fix.
Seasonal drinks take over restaurants and shops in an aggressive manner and in big numbers. It can often be daunting to choose one and I often end up just going with my usual, for fear of paying $5 for something I don't like.
Some of the drinks were really not great, but I did my best to describe and rank them so you can get a feel for what you would like best. And hey, if pumpkin spice just isn't your thing, check out these recipes that prove apple cider reigns supreme. Happy Fall!