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Pumpkin and spice latté, oh my

Local coffee map for Belmont students

Local coffee map for Belmont students

Fall is a time of crunching leaves beneath your feet, breaking out new scarves, and the start of the holiday seasons.

But as awesome as those things can be, something is missing from the list. Something that can really put a fall day over the edge. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, I’m talking about the pumpkin spice latte. With so many coffee shops around Belmont, the variations of the pumpkin spice latte can seem overwhelming.

Never fear, though, for I’ve compiled a list of the good, the bad and the spicy of the area’s essential fall drinks.

I ordered a tall pumpkin latte from our adorable little library coffee shop as soon as the season’s syrup arrived. As with most of my experiences with the coffee at Bruin Grounds (Peet’s coffee, that is), I was not disappointed. However, this latte is not for the weak of heart: the espresso packs a punch, and the pumpkin is more of a background flavor to intensify the aforementioned boldness. As far as I could tell, the pumpkin flavoring in this latte is light syrup, as opposed to the candy-like sauce used at Starbucks.

With Starbucks being a giant international corporation and all, the Starbucks pumpkin spice latte can’t be ignored. Sweet as pumpkin pie, the Starbucks version of the Thanksgiving pie in a cup is for those who don’t really like pumpkin, but love the novelty and comfort of a fall-time drink. It’s so sweet I would say it’s more like a faceless dessert than anything, but who doesn’t like dessert?

Bongo’s disambiguation of the pumpkin spice, the ‘Punk Em’ spice latte, certainly lived up to its name, but not in the way one would think. I felt like I had been “punk’d” (by a trucker-hat-clad Ashton Kutcher) when I had this on one of the first few days of the season. I opened up my cup and, lo and behold, floating on the froth were weird, soggy bits of what I can only assume was grated pumpkin. That’s right, real pumpkin. I appreciate the effort to be authentic, Bongo. I really do. But it just didn’t work. This pumpkin spice has fallen down on the job. Better luck next time.

Before I began my pumpkin spice project, I had never set foot in the Frothy Monkey. I had only heard lore about the unbridled greatness of it all. I ventured down 12th Avenue South in pursuit of pumpkin-y goodness. When I arrived, I learned that Frothy Monkey doesn’t even offer a pumpkin spice latte, per se. They did, however, have a sweet potato latte and a pumpkin spice tea. I opted for the tea, since sweet potatoes, to me, shouldn’t exist in liquid form.

With a blend of chai tea and pumpkin flavor, I found this Frothy Monkey offering to be my favorite pumpkin drink of all. The chai’s natural spice and pumpkin’s spice complemented one another perfectly. It was almost like I was drinking a cousin of apple cider, or at least, it gave me the same feeling. And isn’t the feeling what we’re all looking for in a fall drink?

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