Heralding the beginning of Autumn since 2003: the Pumpkin Spice Latte. A cosy beverage made with espresso, foamed milk and PSL syrup, topped with whipped cream and pumpkin pie seasoning.
Pumpkin Spice Latte: the drink that almost wasn’t!
In the early 2000s, director of espresso Peter Dukes and his colleagues rallied in the Starbucks Liquid Lab with the assignment to create a new seasonal drink, following the success of the Peppermint Mocha holiday drink. They sent out a survey of around 20 flavours, and pumpkin actually polled pretty low. Despite the lack of customer enthusiasm, Dukes was still eager to prototype it as there wasn’t anything similar on the market at that time.
The decision led to the Pumpkin Spice Latte’s famed R&D, which involved the team pouring espresso over pumpkin pie and tasting it in an attempt to translate pumpkin pie into a latte. The syrup was finalised after months of refinement, and the Pumpkin Spice Latte appeared in Washington and Vancouver cafés in 2003. The pilot exceeded expectations, and the following year the PSL rolled out in all stores.
At first, there was no pumpkin in the syrup, containing only artificial flavours and sugar along with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Unsurprisingly, some of the more health-conscious consumers raised concerns, which encouraged a modification of the recipe in 2015 to add real pumpkin purée.
You can make your own with pumpkin purée and a simple infusion of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Browse our espresso beans for the perfect coffee counterpart: we’d recommend something a little darker, chocolatey and nutty like Italo Disco or Sumatra.