Pumpkin Spice Latte

Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte on the left, homemade pumpkin latte on the right

Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte on the left, homemade pumpkin latte on the right

Starbucks pumpkin spice latte is the quintessential Fall beverage: sweet, spicy and delicious.  I don’t usually like really sweet, flavored coffee drinks, but pumpkin spice lattes are one exception to the rule.  This year, for the first time, I tried out a homemade pumpkin latte from one of my new favorite cookbooks “Autumn” by Susan Branch and it turned out to be so good that  I’ve made it often this Fall.  Today, along with two other guinea pigs, I compared the Starbucks pumpkin spice latte to my new favorite homemade version.  I’ve  printed my version of the recipe below.  I tweaked the ingredients a little bit every time I’ve made this drink and the final proportions differ quite a bit from the original recipe in the cookbook:

Pumpkin Latte

1 large serving


  • 1 Tablespoon pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup hot milk
  • 1/2 cup strong coffee or espresso
  • whipped cream and grated nutmeg (optional)

Combine the first 6 ingredients (through coffee) in a blender and pulse a few times until completely mixed.  Pour into a large mug and top with whipped cream and nutmeg if desired.  Alternatively, if you don’t have a blender,  you can put the pumpkin, sugar, vanilla, and spices in a mug, then top with the coffee and milk and whisk it thoroughly until combined.  The blender method creates a very frothy beverage but you can spoon off the froth before pouring if you prefer.

Ingredients for a Pumpkin Latte:  pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, coffee, brown sugar and pumpkin puree

The two lattes looked very different when compared side by side.  The Starbucks pumpkin spice latte is a very bright shade of orange, while the homemade version looked pretty much like a cappuccino.   They also tasted much different from one another.  While the Starbucks latte was very sweet, almost to the exclusion of other flavors, the homemade one was a little more complex with a stronger coffee flavor.  Also, the homemade version is very flexible and you could change the proportions of the ingredients to suit your tastes.  You could add more sugar, for example, or change the proportion of milk to coffee.  Despite the very obvious differences in flavor, the three tasters were divided on which latte was better.  Two of us preferred the homemade version to the Starbucks one, but we probably aren’t going to give up Starbucks pumpkin spice latte’s forever, so we don’t exactly dislike them.  Time wasn’t a huge factor in this comparison as the homemade latte is very easy and fast to make;  it took almost exactly 7 minutes, start to finish which is about the same time it takes to stand in line at Starbucks.  The cleanup probably took longer than the actually assembly of the latte!   The biggest attraction of the homemade latte was the price.  It cost $1.40 as compared to the $4.24 I spent on a the grande pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks.  The homemade pumpkin latte is also a great way to use up any extra pumpkin puree you might have around after Thanksgiving.

Bottom Line: The homemade pumpkin latte is a great way to enjoy a holiday beverage if you’re trying to save money.  The homemade version is also the best choice if you like a stronger coffee flavor in your drinks.   If you’re a Starbucks purist, however, and want something that tastes just like the original pumpkin spice latte, this recipe might not quite hit the spot.

Homemade Pumpkin Latte                                          Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte

Cost:  $1.40                                                                                Cost:  $4.24

Time:  7 minutes                                                                       Time:  None (other than waiting in line)