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The quest for the perfect pumpkin spice latte

The first day of fall is highly disputed. Starbucks said it was Aug. 28, when they brought back their Pumpkin Spice Latte. Science says it’s Sept. 26 when the fall equinox occurs. I met them in the middle and called the first day of fall Sept. 1, and ordered myself a pumpkin spice latte. Here’s the problem: it’s hot. Call it climate change, call it the BS, call it what you want, the fact of the matter is, it’s supposedly fall and it’s still 80+ degrees outside. Enter: the iced Pumpkin Spice Latte. Now I could enjoy my favorite drink without sweating! It was an answer to my prayers… or so I thought.

Iced coffee is a lot harder to prepare than hot coffee, apparently. Therefore, without further ado, I decided to share my pumpkin spice knowledge and point you in the direction of the best iced PSL. Let’s go from least favorite to most favorite, shall we?

5: Saxby’s Pumpkin Spice Cold Brew

Three words came to mind the minute I took a sip of this: oh my god. Gagging shortly ensued. Granulars of spice invading my throat, I felt like I was drinking an unpaved road. Don’t get it twisted: I love Saxby’s, especially their dirty chai or milk and honey cold brew, but this drink just missed the mark. I think it might still be lost in the woods somewhere.

4. Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew

Starbucks’ first new pumpkin drink since their signature Pumpkin Spice Latte really got people talking, claiming it was “so much better” than its predecessor. The Leaf Raker Society, Starbucks’ fall fan club, suggests stirring the drink or letting it sit before drinking it, as was the recommendation for Starbucks’ Sweet Vanilla Coldbrew. So I waited. Time two, I stirred. Time three, I sadly concluded that I fell victim to the hype-train. Shortly thereafter, I saw leaf rakers posting ways to doctor the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew into the drink of their dreams. No way! Baristas are busy enough without me completely remixing their new drink. Thank u, next!

3. Wawa’s Iced Pumpkin Spice Latte

My best friend is going to be so mad when she reads this, but this Wawa treat really played me for a fool. Perfectly caramel colored, I took a sip expecting this to be true perfection – boy, was this lackluster! I’m sure this could be easily improved by adding more flavoring, but as it stands, uncustomized, it’s quite bland. I’m not saying my PSL has to scream “carve me,” but I would like some Jack-Be-Little vibes. I certainly didn’t come home with a pumpkin with this one.

2. Iced Pumpkin Coffee from Dunkin Donuts

Dunkin Donuts coffee has quite the reputation back in my hometown, and not necessarily a good one. The coffee is almost always watered down and the sugar in the iced coffee doesn’t dissolve nine times out of 10. Not exactly the recipe for success, but it’s always consistent, so I knew what I was getting into when I ordered their iced pumpkin coffee. I’m not sure if it was because of my prior knowledge, or if I just really wanted pumpkin iced coffee, but this really hit the spot. Perfectly pumpkin-y! If you go, be sure to hold your straw above the bottom of the lid so you don’t suck up all the sugar on the first sip.

1. Fenn’s Iced Pumpkin Spice Latte

I’ve had this once and it’s all I could think about for months. This is just perfectly pumpkin-y, perfectly iced and perfectly sweet. Unlike Dunkin’s coffee, Fenn’s is strong enough to withstand the ice that inevitably melts, which is a major plus for me. I savored this drink like it would be my last and regret nothing.

I know pumpkin spice gets a bad rep, but if you’re curious about my review of any of these drinks, I recommend trying them – especially if you end up loving something I didn’t! At best, you’ll find your new favorite fall flavor. At worst, you’ll be sure to steer clear of a certain drink or two. Good luck!

Casey Meyer is a fourth-year student majoring in English with a minor in journalism. CM873219@wcupa.edu

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