I Lost My PSL Virginity and Here’s What Happened

Ask anyone what their favorite part of autumn is and you’ll get a range of answers. Some might say apple picking and hot apple cider. Others might say gorgeous autumn leaves. But at least one person will have their eyes set on only one thing. Urban Dictionary defines it as “the most delicious treat of the fall." Starbucks describes the famed fall drink as “our signature espresso and steamed milk with the celebrated flavor combination of pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove.”  

You’ve guessed it. It’s the Pumpkin Spice Latte.

The PSL, as it is endearingly nicknamed by its fans, is the definition of Starbucks’ fall menu. Peter Dukes, the inventor of the drink, was working with a team at Starbucks that was attempting to create a holiday drink for the fall. Pumpkin spiced latte fans were especially excited this year when Starbucks decided to drop the drink in August, their earliest release date yet.

Pumpkin spiced lattes were never my cup of coffee (pun intended). Just a mention of the drink conjures up an image of liquefied pumpkin pie heavily infused with spices in my head. To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of holiday spices in general. A whiff of the spiced pine cones in my local supermarket gives me a headache. A small bite of pumpkin pie is already overwhelming for me. The most holiday spice I can handle is a gingerbread cookie.

But this year, I decided to face my fears and give the drink a shot just to see once and for all what makes the pumpkin spice latte so special. As I stepped into the Starbucks near West Campus, the familiar scent of coffee swirled around me. The words “A grande cappuccino please” were at the tip of my tongue when I got to the counter. But I swallowed back the words and reluctantly asked the cashier, “Can I have a tall pumpkin spice latte please?”

Five minutes later, I found my hands wrapped around a white Starbucks cup filled to the brim with the infamous pumpkin drink. Faint scents of pumpkin spice and cinnamon wafted out of the cup and slightly stung my nose as I braced myself for my first sip. Here goes for nothing, I thought. I cautiously took a small sip and was mildly surprised. Instead of being heavily spiced, the latte was a notch down from the typical Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. While there was a range of spices within a sip, there was just the right amount of sugar to balance out the heavy flavors. In a sense, the drink reminded me of a warm slice of gingerbread. 

As I drained the last sip from my cup, I was at a loss. The latte wasn’t the best latte I had ever tasted, but it had knocked down my expectations. I definitely think it’s a lot better than the winter holiday Starbucks drinks which all taste like a bucket of melted down sugar cookies. Now that I’ve had the PSL experience, I’m open to the idea of ordering another.

While the pumpkin spice latte won’t replace the cappuccino as my typical Starbucks order, it certainly is worth a try.

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