A coffee drink so famous it goes by its initials, the Starbucks pumpkin spice latte has a devout following. Like Halloween candy and Christmas decorations, the drink seems to debut earlier and earlier each year; this year, a special code allowed super-fans to get a taste in advance of the PSL's post-Labor Day release.
Now that it's fall, those warming, spiced lattes start to look pretty irresistible, but there are downsides to the Starbucks PSL: a grande (without whipped cream) contains 310 calories and nearly 50 grams—about 11 teaspoons—of sugar, more than you'll find in a 16-ounce bottle of soda. It also contains caramel color and preservatives.
We decided to give the pumpkin spice latte a makeover, preserving its cozy, autumnal spiciness while cutting the sugar and unpronounceable ingredients. Our version is more healthful, less expensive, and available all year round.
DIY pumpkin spice latte
Makes one latte.
- 1 cup 2% milk (whole or 1% milk can be substituted)
- 1 tablespoon demerara (raw cane) sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 5 allspice berries
- 3 whole cloves
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- pinch ground cinnamon
- 2 shots espresso
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk, sugar, cinnamon stick, allspice berries, whole cloves and 1/8 teaspoon of the nutmeg. Bring to a simmer then turn off the heat, cover and let stand 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the whole spices and discard.
Heat the spice-infused milk over medium-low heat until hot, then use a milk frother to foam the milk (alternatively, you can transfer the milk to a blender and blend until foamy).
Pour the hot espresso into a mug and top with the hot milk, pouring the milk over the back of a spoon into the mug to hold back the foam. Then spoon the foam on top and garnish with the remaining nutmeg and the ground cinnamon.