A Starbucks Fall Drink Guide

So it’s that time of the year again. It’s again considered unacceptable to serve “boring, flavorless coffee,” containing only basics, like black coffee with our typical-oat-milk-fix. When you walk around and breathe in that crisp fall air, the only possible next move is to find the perfect drink for the scenario. 

AKA, the combination that is cinnamon, sugar and, oh yeah, maybe a hint of coffee.  

Honestly, I feel that aside from the unnatural sugar rush I feel whilst consuming the flavored syrupy liquid, the benefits have the potential to outweigh the flagrant downfalls. For example, I am quite easily transfixed by any drink that smells like my favorite seasonal bath and body works candles. No matter what they taste like, the fall vibes are undeniable, so major points there. 

Speaking on behalf of the fall-crazed human bunches that shuffle on over to their local Starbucks whenever they hear the word ‘seasonal,’ I have created a list of my top three strictly fall drinks (meaning pumpkin, cinnamon and coffee -- oh my) that I often find myself buying when the weather shifts away from summer. 


  1. 1. Iced Pumpkin Spice Latte

    Okay, although it’s understandable why this is a Starbucks staple -- it’s one of their best-selling drinks EVER -- and encourages masses of teenage girls to flock stores every fall, I am still shocked that nobody seems to mention how the drink is a solid sugar attack with cinnamon on top. This was my first attempt to drink the Starbucks iced PSL, and immediately I noticed how cute the presentation was. But, when I took my first sip, I was shocked at the lack of pumpkin flavor. When I hear ‘Pumpkin Spice Latte’ I assume there ought to be a significant resemblance, but after a little online research to ease my revelation, it appears that Starbucks pumpkin spice seasoning does not contain any pumpkin, and is a general conglomeration of conventional fall seasonings and high fructose corn syrup. If I was to be given an unmarked version of this drink, I would have been quick to assume it was a regular Dunkin iced coffee with cream and sugar, which is much, much cheaper. Not an everyday drink, but if you are on the market for a sugary dessert drink, go right ahead. 


    Fall Vibes: 8

    Flavor: 2

    Aesthetic: 8

    Overall: 6

  2. 2. Hot Blonde Pumpkin Spice Latte

    Even though I generally stray from sugary coffee beverages, I surprisingly really enjoyed this drink. Unlike the regular iced PSL, the hot blonde PSL provided a greater depth of flavor, beyond just the evident sugar coating. Don’t get me wrong, it still provided an unexplainable shock to my stomach, but the flavor was slightly reminiscent of the cream in a pumpkin cream cold brew. I’d say it was that the blonde roast helped ease out the flavor and created a smoother, more simplistic flavor that didn’t require as many add-ins to attempt to cover the bitterness. My final accolade rests in the sheer fact it was a warm drink, which fits in with the temperature of fall in Philly better than it’s iced counterparts. 


    Fall Vibes: 9

    Flavor: 6

    Aesthetic: 6

    Overall: 7

  3. 3. Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew

    Snaps all around for number one! This is hands down my favorite beverage that Starbucks has ever graced me with. Unlike many of the other fall-inspired drinks, this drink is not overwhelmingly sweet and actually tastes like coffee. The cream sits atop the cold brew, and poses in a charming creamy orange, with cinnamon/pumpkin spice scattered around. By itself, the cream is absolutely phenomenal and tastes significantly toned down from the other drinks. The drink sports a frothy cream with real tasting pumpkin flavor above the rest of the coffee, so when you originally begin sipping your drink through the straw, it simply tastes like cold brew. You can either sip the regular cold brew until the cream permeates throughout, or can mix it up right away. This differentiation between the parts of the drink really allows you to drink it how you enjoy and find the perfect balance of sweet and bitter between the cream and the coffee. 


    Fall Vibes: 7

    Flavor: 10

    Aesthetic: 10

    Overall: 9 

Overall, I enjoyed testing what appears to be a few of the most popular seasonal fall drinks at Starbucks. I found major successes in drinks like the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew and was startlingly let down by others that failed to achieve a clear fall flavor, and only succeeded in providing stomachaches for their consumer. Unfortunately, all of the pumpkin spice beverages I tried failed to come in a diary-free version, so you’re out of luck if dairy isn’t an option for you (PSA: go to Wawa and get their pumpkin spice coffee and use their almond milk because it’s self-serve!!). But for everyone else, these drinks are popular for a reason, so if you’re interested, go out and see if any of these could be your new fall fix.