pumpkin spice latte with cream

Pumpkin Spice Coffee: The Perfect Halloween Treat

When fall approaches, there are some things you can almost guarantee.

The leaves will start to drop, temperatures will get cooler, Halloween decorations will be ready to come out, and your social media feed will be filled with people either enjoying a pumpkin spiced latte from Starbucks, or talking about them.

This trend of pumpkin spice coffee has emerged far beyond the famous coffee house though, as it seems almost everything now comes in a pumpkin spice variety. However, when it comes to popularity, the coffee with these famous pumpkin flavors and spices tends to be the crowd favorite.

What is a pumpkin spice coffee?

A pumpkin spice coffee is one made using popular fall spices like nutmeg and cinnamon, as well as pumpkin puree, and your other regular coffee ingredients. The drink is based on the flavorings of a pumpkin pie, and although Starbucks came up with the latte originally, it’s now expanded far beyond just this brand.

If you’re looking for the perfect Halloween treat to share at your next party or you just want to have access to the addictive and soul-warming pumpkin spice lattes any time of the day or night, we’re here to help.

We’ve got everything you need to know about the famous drink, how to create it for yourself, and other cool ideas you can use when serving up Halloween themed pumpkin delicacies.

What Is Pumpkin Spice Coffee?

pumpkin spice latte

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of the pumpkin spice latte before.

The drink has become so popular that Starbucks even trademarked the acronym PSL and they still use it today with pleasure, as it’s easily become their most famous beverage ever made.

The pumpkin spice coffee is a sweet and spicy way to enjoy your regular caffeine hit, and although it was popularized by Starbucks, it’s easy enough for anyone to enjoy at home. Most coffee houses now offer their own version of it, and so to do many other brands, all rolling out their pumpkin spice variations of foods and drinks.

A pumpkin spice coffee is made with regular coffee beans but has the added bonus of being flavored with pumpkin pie spices. These spices include cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, as well as a good dose of pureed pumpkin, giving it the famous orange tint that everyone knows and loves.

There’s no set recipe for making a pumpkin spice coffee, but when you take a sip you’ll instantly recognize the flavors. Although only a few years old in the grand scheme of coffee drinks, it’s one of the most popular in the United States, and a fan favorite when it comes to Halloween treats that can be served up to friends and families at get-togethers or office parties during the fall.

The History of Starbucks and Pumpkin Spice Coffee

pumpkin spice coffee from starbucks

Before we can get into the makings of a pumpkin spice coffee, it’s helpful to take a look back at where it all began.

Although some families might have a history of making a similar drink in generations past, Starbucks is credited with creating the Pumpkin Spice Latte, which has become one of their best sellers and is now served in their chains around the world.

The story behind the Pumpkin Spice Latte is that it was created in 2003 as a way to capitalize on their recent success with other season drinks. Starbucks had already made the Peppermint Mocha and Eggnog Latte which were huge hits, but they needed something during the fall period that could be a best seller as well.

Pumpkin pie was unsurprisingly not a favorite when it came to customer surveys and the thought of using these spices to make a coffee drink wasn’t something Starbucks wanted to do. They believed that the drink wouldn’t sell as a coffee beverage because there were too many overpowering flavors that would take away from the caffeine.

However, they ran with the idea 17 years ago, and it has served them well. During this time, there have been millions of Instagram and Twitter posts, countless memes, and over $1.4 billion spent on the drinks.

Even during the global pandemic when their sales were down, the early release of the PSL in August drove Starbucks’ sales back up again.

How to Brew Pumpkin Spice Coffee

brew pumpkin spice coffee

Although it’s hard to top the sweet and spicy concoction that is a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte, you can get one that tastes just as good for yourself at home.

Follow these steps to make your own hot pumpkin spice coffee to serve up to friends and family as a Halloween or fall treat.

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 2 cups of milk
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ cup hot coffee
  • Sugar (optional)
  • Whipped cream (optional)

Method

  1. Make your pumpkin puree first by cooking a scooped out and split pumpkin in the oven on 400 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour. When cooled, puree with a blender or stand mixer and store in the fridge or freezer to keep.
  2. Place milk, pumpkin puree, and desired amount of sugar to a small saucepan. Turn to medium heat so that milk becomes hot without boiling.
  3. Take the saucepan off the heat and whisk through the vanilla extract, hot coffee, and spices.
  4. Divide the hot coffee mixture between two mugs and top with whipped cream and an extra sprinkle of the pumpkin pie spice, if wanted.

Special Tips

  •  You can vary the amount of sugar to suit your taste, but if you’re after the most authentic Starbucks experience, you should use two tablespoons for a serving of two.
  • Pumpkin pie spice blend can be purchased at the store, or you can make your own. Mix 1.5 tablespoons cinnamon, half a teaspoon of ground nutmeg, 2 teaspoons of ground ginger, and a small pinch of ground cloves to create the blend.
  • If you want a stronger pumpkin flavor, double the amount of puree or consider reducing the milk.
  • Whole milk gives the most authentic PSL flavor but it can be made with any other dairy alternative.

Cold Brew Pumpkin Coffee

cold brewed pumpkin coffee

If you’re someone who sticks to their cold brew guns even as the weather starts to change, you’re in luck.

It’s totally possible to make a cold brew pumpkin spice coffee that tastes just as delicious, using your favorite cold brew recipe mixed with pumpkin cream. Follow these steps to get a chilled-out version of everyone’s favorite fall holiday drink.

Ingredients (makes 4oz pumpkin cream)

  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbs pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 cup half and half
  • Cold brew coffee

Method

  1. Make up a batch of cold brew coffee using your desired method and have it ready before you start making the pumpkin cream.
  2. Create the pumpkin puree first by baking a prepared pumpkin for one hour in an oven on 400 degrees Fahrenheit. When it’s cooled, remove the skin and puree with a blender then freeze or refrigerate for up to a week to keep the excess.
  3. Using a medium saucepan on medium heat, add the sugar, half and half, pumpkin puree, and spice mix and whisk together until dissolved and combined.
  4. Remove saucepan from heat and whisk in the vanilla.
  5. Strain the mixture through a mesh strainer and store in the fridge until ready to use.
  6. Froth up the ingredients of the pumpkin cream using a milk frother to get it thick and warm.
  7. Place a dollop of the pumpkin cream on top of your cold brew and sprinkle with additional pumpkin pie spices before enjoying.

Spiced Coffee Grounds

Although pumpkin takes a lot of credit for this drink, it’s the spice blend used in it that gives it the flavor we love. 

If you’re not particularly fussed on having pumpkin pie spices in your morning coffee, there are loads of other ways to give it some flavor that changes the whole drinking experience.

To make your own spiced coffee at home, you can add just a pinch of spices to your regular pot of instant coffee or with your French press as it steeps. There are loads of options like lavender, cardamom, and cinnamon, or you can use a pumpkin pie spice mix that’s been ready-made if you want to try and emulate the famous drink.

If you’d rather not experiment too much, it is possible to buy coffee grounds that have already been pre-spiced. Starbucks sells a huge selection, including their popular Pumpkin Spice Latte blend, and most other coffee purveyors will offer spiced options that can range from sweet to spicy.

There may be some trial and error when it comes to creating your own spiced coffee, but that doesn’t mean you should give up. Most people assume that a spiced coffee or a pumpkin flavor will be overwhelming, but in most cases, you’ll get the strong coffee notes first and foremost, with the spices being a nice, gentle note added to your morning drink.

Pumpkin Spiced Halloween Beverages

recipe for spice latte

If you’re getting into the pumpkin spiced beverage sensation and want to know what other drinks you could create for a Halloween or fall-themed party, there’s no end to how they can be enjoyed.

Here are some ideas for pumpkin spiced beverages that will deliver the sweet and spicy aromas this drink is known for.

  • Pumpkin spice sparkling punch: A fun Halloween themed punch made for adults, featuring spiced rum, pumpkin spices, seltzer, and loads of ice cubs.
  • Pumpkin pie punch: Create a punch for kids and adults to drink featuring creaming soda, apple cider, cool whip, pumpkin spices, and pumpkin puree.
  • Pumpkin spice wine spritzer: Add some pumpkin puree and spice mix to your favorite wine spritzer to make it feel more festive.
  • Pumpkin soda: Soda water, pumpkin syrup, and loads of sugar is how you create this sweet and fizzy drink that’s ideal for adults and children to enjoy.
  • White pumpkin cocktail: This fancy cocktail is very different from the Starbucks latte, made with milk, white rum, honey, and pumpkin pie spices.

Related Questions

Pumpkin spice coffee is just one of the many ways that we’ve transformed our favorite caffeinated drink into something completely different and changed the way we enjoy it for good.

If you’ve been looking for a new flavor or style to enjoy your daily coffee in, read on to see the answers to some commonly asked questions about lattes and pumpkin spice to see if it’s worth giving a try.

What Does a Pumpkin Spice Latte Taste Like?

If you’re not able to try one of these drinks for yourself, they taste more like coffee than you might think, and this goes for the latte and cold brew versions. 

There are hints of pumpkin pie spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, as well as a dash of vanilla, but generally, it still has the strong coffee flavor that people love.

Is a Latte Stronger Than a Coffee?

The method of making a latte uses an espresso machine which generally creates a higher caffeine content per cup than drinking instant coffee, but they come with a lot of milk to balance it out.

However, their strongness also depends on the beans used, their roasting method, and how they were prepared.

Are Lattes Unhealthy?

Compared to other caffeinated beverages, the latte is known as one of the fattier options for ordering coffee. 

With an included vanilla shot and regular milk used, they equate to around 380 calories for a large-sized drink. When compared to a cold brew coffee that only has around 2 kilojoules per drink, it is a lot unhealthier to drink.