Which pumpkin-spice latte should I choose?

21 Nov

Just in case you were wondering:

Whole Foods

Whole Foods’ version was a little modest on the coffee flavor and lacked anything remotely pumpkiny, but was very nutmeg-forward and had a sweet, caramel-like coating on the tongue. The aftertaste was superlong and somewhat cloying, but the flavor overall was really aided by the nutmeg. A little more cinnamon would probably balance out the cup pretty nicely, though the drink overall was pretty enjoyable and very autumnal.

In the meantime, am I the only person who always forgets that most Whole Foods have a cafe in the bulk-coffee section? All this time I could be warming my paws on an Americano while perusing the frozen vegetables. Sigh.

Dunkin’ Donuts

Surprisingly, Dunkin’ Donuts’ offering had a much more recognizably “coffee” taste to it, though whatever else in there that’s supposedly making it a pumpkin-flavored drink is hard to discern. Sweet like butterscotch, it has more of a vanilla or hazelnut sort of warmth to it, and almost no detectable spice at all—it almost tastes like the kind of push-button “French vanilla cappuccino” I grew up on haunting the aisles of Wawa as a New Jersey teenager.

Starbucks

“It’s seriously awesome,” the barista at Starbucks assured me. “It’s totally the thing that turned me on to espresso.” Well, that’s really nice and everything, but it’s hard to see how that’s possible, as the Green Mermaid’s pumpkin-spice latte has the least coffee flavor of any coffee drink I’ve ever had in my entire life. (Including the Wawa special mentioned above.)

know there’s espresso in there, because I saw our man put it in the cup. But underneath a cap of (actually pretty decently textured and generously “spiced” from a handy shaker from the baristas’ arsenal) white foam, there lurked an orange (yes, actually orange) drink that tasted almost exactly like taking a sip of Libby’s canned pumpkin mixed with sweetened-condensed milk and not much else. Basically it’s a drinkable version of not-yet-cooked pumpkin pie filling.

So who won this battle? Find out here.

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