As soon as September hits, we are bombarded with everything pumpkin spice. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of pumpkin spice and limited edition flavors. I consider myself someone who gets pretty into the holidays, so specialty food items are my jam. The masters of the seasonal drink trend are fast food chains. I’m talking Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts and even McDonald's.

Everywhere you turn, there is another limited edition drink. While we all appreciate the multitude of options, it can be overwhelming. I decided to try the seasonal drinks from Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts and McDonald's to create the ultimate ranking of fall drinks.

So which seasonal drink reigns supreme?

Emily Noel

In order to stay unbiased, I ordered all my drinks iced (which is how I prefer it anyway). Starbucks has the most seasonal items, so I started there:


Pumpkin Spice Latte:

Perhaps the most iconic on this list, I had to start with the OG PSL from Starbucks. A tall pumpkin spice latte has 1 espresso shot, 3 pumps of pumpkin sauce, and milk. Starbucks knows how to make a pumpkin spice latte. This drink is packed with sweet pumpkin flavor and a slight hint of coffee. I do think this drink is missing some of the spice that the name promises. I felt myself longing for a hint of cinnamon, nutmeg, or clove. This drink is fairly sweet, but that's just the way I like my coffee.

Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew:

Emily Noel

A tall Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew consists of Starbucks' classic cold brew with 1 pump of vanilla syrup, topped with pumpkin cream cold foam and pumpkin spice topping. I find the consistency of this drink slightly odd. The cream is thick and hovers on the surface of the cold brew. It doesn't mix very well into the cold brew, so I'm either drinking an incredibly sweet cream or the bitter cold brew. This drink as a whole is not as sweet as some of Starbucks’s other drinks. It has a much stronger coffee taste than the others because the majority of the drink is caffeinated. Personally, I like my drinks to be a little sweeter, but the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew has a subtlety sweet pumpkin taste that is really enjoyable. If you like stronger coffee with a little hint of sweetness, this is the drink for you.

Salted Caramel Mocha:

Emily Noel

This drink has a lot going on. A tall Salted Caramel Mocha has one espresso shot, three pumps of mocha sauce, three pumps of toffee nut syrup, and milk. The consistency is THICK and makes me think it would be better hot instead of iced. This drink is both chocolatey and nutty, with little coffee flavor. This drink is extremely sweet, so I couldn’t drink much of it. I was nervous to try this drink because I’ve had salted caramel drinks before and felt like I was sipping salt through a straw. However, I can only taste a hint of salt with each sip. Given that there is only 1 espresso shot, the only energy you’ll get from this drink is a sugar rush.

Dunkin Donuts

Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Signature Latte

Unlike Starbucks, Dunkin doesn’t provide the exact breakdown of the drink, but it is exactly like it sounds. This latte consists of milk blended with espresso and flavored with pumpkin and cinnamon. This is a heavenly creation. This is a very sweet drink that screams fall. Not only does it have hint of pumpkin flavoring, but the cinnamon sugar adds another dimension to the coffee that I didn’t know I needed. Not to be dramatic, but this drink changed my life (ok, maybe my day) for the better. The mixture of caffeine and sugar gave me a tasty kick I needed to start my day off right.

Pumpkin Coffee:

Emily Noel

A small Pumpkin Coffee is Dunkin’s plain iced coffee with two pumpkin swirls. Flavor swirls are sweetened, while flavor shots are sugar free, so this coffee is packing the sweetness. Let me tell you, this coffee is so good. Typically, when I order coffee, I add at least one Splenda packet, but this drink does not need it. The pumpkin is not overpowering and is different from the Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Signature Latte because there is no spice to complement the pumpkin. If you’re a fan of subtle pumpkin flavor, you’ll love this coffee.


Cinnamon Cookie Latte:

Emily Noel

This latte is a blend of milk, cinnamon, and espresso with a dusting of cinnamon on top. I wasn't sure what to expect from this drink since I've never ordered coffee from McDonald's before. It's safe to say the Cinnamon Cookie Latte pales in comparison to the Starbucks and Dunkin. This tastes like a watered down vanilla iced coffee. I don't taste any cinnamon flavor. To be fair, I tried this the day it came out, so there could be a learning curve on how to make it. Overall, this drink lacks flavor and does not live up to its name.

So which seasonal drink comes out on top?

1st: Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Signature Latte

The Starbuck's PSL has been dethroned. Move over PSL, it's time for the Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Signature Latte (phew that's a mouthful). This drink checks all the boxes. This latte is perfectly sweet with hints of coffee, pumpkin, and spice. You need to try this before PSL season is over.

2nd: Pumpkin Coffee

This was a close one between Starbuck's Pumpkin Spice Latte. They are similar but the difference is this is a pumpkin coffee, so when there's no flavor of spice, that is to be expected. The pumpkin flavor is subtle and you can still taste a good amount of coffee.

3rd: Pumpkin Spice Latte

Although delicious, the pumpkin spice latte was lacking the spice I wanted. This latte has a nice balance between the sweet pumpkin flavor and bitter coffee, but could really benefit from hints of spice.

4th: Salted Caramel Mocha

If you have a sweet tooth, you'll love this drink. I loved drinking it... for about two sips. It took me a long time to finish this drink because it is SO sweet. If this had a stronger coffee flavor and a few less pumps of syrup it would be perfect.

5th: Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew

When the foam and cold brew is mixed together, this drink is delicious. However, the foam rises to the top not long after mixing it, so it's either very sweet or bitter. The flavors are great, but I can't get past the consistency.

6th: Cinnamon Cookie Latt

*sigh* This drink sounds delicious, but was lacking so much flavor. It tastes like vanilla and coffee, but has no cinnamon flavor whatsoever. If I'm ordered coffee I'm going to stick to the coffee chains like Starbucks and Dunkin.