Buy or DIY: Pumpkin Spiced Latte


Autumn is here and Halloween is right around the corner, so what better way to get into the spirit than indulging in a trip to Starbucks for the once-a-year Pumpkin Spiced Latte? I think I can speak for most coffee lovers when I say autumn is their favourite sipping season. But the PSL was the subject of a storm last year, when an influential US food blogger revealed that not only does the Pumpkin Spiced Latter not contain any pumpkin at all, but it includes some pretty dubious ingredients too. 

Starbucks have just announced they are cleaning-up their act and including real pumpkin puree in their Pumpkin Spiced Lattes this year. Hurray! But does that mean you should be hopping down to Starbucks for your seasonal treat? Let's uncover the facts and decide whether you should buy or DIY...

To Buy

Without bursting anyone's bubble, the PSL is not a particularly healthy choice for your daily coffee hit. Pumpkin Spiced Lattes are jam-packed with refined sugar, and have a couple of questionable artificial ingredients too. To put things into perspective, your usual two shots of pumpkin spiced syrup will take you well over your RDA of sugar, landing you with a hefty 30g per serving. Yikes! 

Indulging in a Pumpkin Spiced Latte could send your blood sugar levels into the roof and will have a similar effect on your body as a can of coke. This means slowing down your metabolism, increasing your appetite and (assuming you're not upping your daily exercise), storing all that excess sugar as fat. Don't get me started on the whipped cream topping! If you're watching your weight, PSLs are definitely a big no-no. 

If you prefer to avoid artificial ingredients like colours and flavourings, you're probably best off giving the PSL a wide berth too. Both the whipped cream and syrups contain artificial preservatives to make them last longer on the shelf. 

DIY Pumpkin Spiced Latte: 

Making your own Pumpkin Spiced Latter is pretty easy - the most difficult thing is getting hold of the pumpkin puree! I tracked this down in Waitrose, so try your local supermarket or ethnic food store. 


  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 teaspoons maple syrup (you could also use date syrup or agave)
  • 3 teaspoons pumpkin puree
  • 1 shot of espresso (or 2 if you want a more intense coffee hit) 
  • 2/3 cup of warm milk (or dairy-free alternative) 


Blend together the pumpkin puree, syrup and spices until combined. Add the coffee and blend, before slowly adding the hot milk. Pour into your favourite mug and enjoy! If you'd rather not use a microwave to warm the milk or don't have a blender, you can also make this in a pan. Just mix together the first ingredients, then whisk in the hot coffee and milk. 

The Verdict:

The homemade Pumpkin Spiced Latte is a really good autumn drink. It's definitely not the same as the Starbucks PSL - it's less sweet, and of course you're forgoing the whipped cream topping. But then again, you're saving a truck load of sugar, calories and artificial nasties! Not only that, but you're getting all the health benefits from the spices too. Even date syrup has some valuable trace minerals which you definitely won't find in a Starbucks PSL! 

If you're a regular PSL drinker then I'd strongly suggest you start making your own. By all means, tinker with the recipe to get your own preferred blend of spices, and you can freeze the un-used pumpkin puree if you don't use the whole can at once.

If you only pop to Starbucks once a month for an occasional treat then go ahead - I won't judge. But making your own is definitely better for you, and better for your pocket too. 

  #Columns   #coffee   #drinks   #sugar   #Buy or DIY   #sweets   #autumn   #seasonal   #pumpkin   #latte

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