We Tasted Starbucks’ New Pumpkin Spice Latte … And Here’s What We Think
When Starbucks announced it would be adjusting the recipe of its iconic Pumpkin Spice Latte, the Internet went into a frenzy, debating the merits of adding actual pumpkin purée into an espresso beverage.
So when we were invited to a special tasting of the new-and-possibly-improved updated latte, which becomes available nationwide on Sept. 8, we had to try it, as it’s our journalistic — nay, patriotic — duty to report all PSL-related matters.
Our thoughts on the updated latte?
Well, it tastes the same. Almost exactly the same. And that, apparently, is the point.
Peter Dukes, the man who invented the PSL in 2003, tells PEOPLE that the goal of the new latte was to make a “cleaner” version, not reinvent the flavor. (If they had messed around with the flavors, PSL fans everywhere would have surely revolted.)
“We thought we could do better,” Dukes said. “We started with removing caramel coloring, using pumpkin purée and taking all artificial ingredients out entirely. The nutritional info is the same. It’s just a cleaner version.”
Perhaps it was the knowledge that the new version was all-natural and contained pumpkin that slightly affected the taste — the pumpkin flavor seemed to come through stronger, as did the warmth of the spices. Perhaps the artificial ingredients in the older version had muddled the flavors, if only slightly.
Sipping on the new latte reminded us that the cinnamon-sprinkled whipped cream topping the latte is about the most glorious part. As we finished our shot-sized portion of the creamy concoction — knowing we were the first non-Starbucks employees to taste it, which was glorious — Dukes explained the origins of the PSL, noting that it was almost called the “Fall Harvest Latte.” (We gasped. FHL just doesn’t have the same ring.)
The updated Pumpkin Spice Latte will be available nationally on Sept. 8, marking the bittersweet beginning of fall.
—Maria Yagoda, @mariayagoda