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Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice: My PSL Ranking

The spooky season has once again arrived, marking the return of many traditions like the chunky knit sweater, autumn scented candles at TJ Maxx, and a beloved beverage: the Pumpkin Spice Latte. With so many cafes to choose from, it can be difficult to determine which PSL is truly the best. 

Over the last few weeks, I have set out to do precisely that. I visited 6 locations in the Lewisburg area to settle once and for all which latte would trump the rest. All of the lattes were bought in a small size and rated out of 5 stars in the categories of sweetness, foam quality, coffee strength, budget friendliness, and overall detection of the pumpkin spice flavor we all know and love. The individual scores were all tallied up and divided by 5 to determine the overall rating. 

A little disclaimer: If these categories were not a good indication, I am not in any way a scientist. These ratings are based on my own personal preference, which is a semi-sweet PSL that tastes distinctly of pumpkin spice but still has a strong coffee flavor.

Dunkin: $3.49

Pumpkin Spiciness: 1/5 

Sweetness: 1/5 

Foam: 3/5 

Coffee Flavor: 4/5 

Budget Friendliness: 4/5 

Overall Score: 2.6/5

Coming in at $3.49, the Dunkin Pumpkin Spice Latte was the cheapest one that I bought. I expected it to be sickly sweet, but was surprised to find that it was not sweet at all. Despite this, it didn’t taste like pumpkin spice either. The foam was fluffy, a bit firm, and had a good deal of pumpkin spice sprinkled on top of it. I just wish this pumpkin spice would have made it into the drink. Overall, it just tasted like coffee. If you are a daily Dunkin drinker looking for a slight autumnal flair in your morning coffee, this may be the best option for you, but it is not for PSL fanatics. 

Amami: $5.21

Pumpkin Spiciness: 4/5 

Sweetness: 4/5 

Foam: 4/5 

Coffee Flavor: 3/5 

Budget Friendliness: 1/5 

Overall Score: 3.2/5

On the other end of the spectrum, Amami was the most expensive coffee that I bought. It had a great balance of pumpkin spice flavor and a moderately strong coffee undertone. Though it was sweeter than Dunkin’s, it managed to do so without being overpowering. The foam didn’t have any pumpkin spice sprinkle, but it was light and airy, melting right into the drink. This would be a great latte if the price wasn’t so steep.

7th Street: $4.20

Pumpkin Spiciness: 3/5 

Sweetness: 2/5 

Foam: 2/5 

Coffee Flavor: 5/5 

Budget Friendliness: 3/5 

Overall Score: 3/5

Our local Bucknell cafe did not disappoint. Though the PSL could have used a bit more pumpkin spice, it made up for this with the perfect level of coffee flavor. This latte, like the Dunkin one, was not particularly sweet. It also did not have substantial foam or any pumpkin spice sprinkle. This is another good option for subtle-PSL lovers, and I can honestly say that it succeeded my expectations. 

Starbucks: $5.04

Pumpkin Spiciness: 5/5 

Sweetness: 4/5 

Foam: 5/5 

Coffee Flavor: 2/5 

Budget Friendliness: 2/5 

Overall Score: 3.6/5

Starbies, the reigning queen of the Pumpkin Spice Latte, did not disappoint. The price was closely proportional to Amami’s, but it picked up extra stars in categories where Amami slightly lacked. The foam had that light, soft texture where it melts into the drink, with the addition of a pumpkin spice sprinkle. It nailed the semi-sweetness, but could have tasted more like coffee for my personal preference. As far as pumpkin spice flavor goes, this one really hit the mark. I wanted another latte to overthrow Starbucks, but the famous PSL held its crown. 

Final Ranking

  1. Starbucks
  2. Amami
  3. 7th Street
  4. Dunkin

Honorable Mentions

All-Star Bagels

I don’t know if it’s just not offered for pick-up, but someone needs to tell All-Star to start making a PSL. I was so devastated that I had to eat my Grand Slam without one. 

McDonalds

I made 3 trips to the McDonalds drive thru to try their famous Pumpkin Latte, only to find out that the Lewisburg location isn’t just out of pumpkin spice; they simply don’t make them. I did try a caramel latte, however, which was only $2.12 and honestly so good. Also the cashier complimented my furry steering wheel cover and said it was “super cozy,” so I can’t stay mad at McDonalds even though I was hoping to snag a PSL. 

Susie Williams

Bucknell '23

Susie is a junior at Bucknell, majoring in Literary Studies and Russian. She believes in living fearlessly; well, almost fearlessly. Ceiling tiles and basketballs make her nervous. Susie plans to pursue a career in International Law.
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