Pumpkin Spice Latte Review

Pumpkin Spice Latte Review

Kaitlyn Ellison, Staff Writer

It’s that time of year again and pumpkin spice lattes are back in what seems like every coffee shop in town. Some may say the pumpkin spice latte, or PSL, is a staple fall beverage and cannot celebrate the fall season without it. Two close friends of mine set out to engage in the pumpkin spice latte madness and sample some of the best pumpkin spice lattes in town. You may be wondering “Does Starbucks really have the best pumpkin spice latte?”, “Is it better hot or iced?” or “ What exactly is a pumpkin spice latte?” Don’t fear, we are here to answer all of those PSL-related questions. Here are our rankings for five different Pumpkin Spice Lattes from around Crystal Lake. 

Meet Our Judges

Between the three of my friends, we all have varying tastes for coffee and pumpkin spice lattes. Our first judge, Cameron, enjoys black coffee regularly and isn’t too fond of flavored drinks (who also seemed to judge very harshly this entire taste test). Our second judge, Jacob, is a pumpkin spice enthusiast but prefers an iced pumpkin spice latte whenever available. As our third judge, I usually enjoy sweeter coffee beverages and love chai lattes during the fall season. We judged based on five categories, Price, Taste, Sweetness, Presentation, and “Pumpkin spice-ness”. 

Review 1: Starbucks

Starting out with one of the most well-known places to get a pumpkin spice latte, we figured it would only be appropriate to review Starbucks’ pumpkin spice latte first. We ordered the traditional 12-ounce hot pumpkin spice latte to split between the three of us, totaling $4.85 with tax. Here are our individual ratings. 


Name Cameron Jacob Katie
Price: 5/10 6/10 6/10
Taste: 6/10 8/10 7/10
Sweetness: 4/10 6/10 6/10
Pumpkin Spice-ness: 4/10 7/10 6/10
Presentation: 7/10 8/10 8/10
Overall:  6/10 7/10 7/10


We all noted that Starbucks’ pumpkin spice latte was a pretty standard drink which set a good basis to rate other pumpkin spice lattes on. The pumpkin spice flavor wasn’t too noticeable and it was a little sweet for some of our likings. 

Review 2: Aroma

Next, we chose to head to a local coffee shop to rate their take on a pumpkin spice latte. None of us had been into Aroma before which was a unique experience for everyone. We ordered their 16-ounce latte which totaled $6.99 without tax. 


Name Cameron Jacob Katie
Price: 2/10 3/10 3/10
Taste: 2/10 2/10 3/10
Sweetness: 1/10 2/10 2/10
Pumpkin Spice-ness: 4/10 4/10 5/10
Presentation: 4/10 4/10 4/10
Overall:  3/10 4/10 4/10

Aroma’s pumpkin spice latte was very bitter, which took everyone by surprise. Their pumpkin spice syrup was the most authentic pumpkin spice flavor we tasted during this taste test, but it settled to the bottom so it was not mixed in. We also were a bit surprised that the drink was a little pricey. This drink is definitely best fit for someone who usually enjoys regular coffee, but was not for the three of us. 

Review 3: Dunkin Donuts

We next chose Dunkin Donuts to review since it’s often visited as an alternative to Starbucks’ coffee. Dunkin Donuts only offered their pumpkin spice latte iced, which totaled $5.99 for a 16-ounce drink.

Name Cameron Jacob Katie
Price: 5/10 5/10 5/10
Taste: 6/10 8.5/10 8/10
Sweetness: 7/10 8/10 9/10
Pumpkin Spice-ness: 5/10 6/10 6/10
Presentation: 9/10 9/10 9/10
Overall:  7/10 8.5/10 8/10


We all agreed the presentation of this drink was very nice, especially with the pumpkin spice on top. Most of the sweetness in the drink came from the whipped cream and bottom of the drink, which made the distribution of drink sweetness a little uneven. We also agreed that the drink was still a little pricey. 

Review 4: Grounds

Finally, we chose Grounds to review for their pumpkin spice latte. We all frequently go to Grounds for different beverages but this was everyone’s first time trying the pumpkin spice latte. Grounds offered both an iced and hot latte, so Jacob got the iced latte and I got the hot one while Cameron did not participate in this tasting. The total for each drink came out to be $6.50 without tax.

Name Jacob (Iced) Katie (Hot)
Price: 4/10 4/10
Taste: 8/10 9/10
Sweetness: 9/10 9/10
Pumpkin Spice-ness: 7/10 7/10
Presentation: 10/10 6/10
Overall:  8/10 8.5/10

Jacob and I agreed that the sweetness level and the taste for this pumpkin spice latte was our favorite. The presentation of the iced pumpkin spice latte was especially nice, complete with different fall spices and whipped cream on top. Overall, Grounds did not disappoint with their pumpkin spice latte. 

Final Review

For our final rankings, we all agreed that Dunkin Donuts has the best iced pumpkin spice latte that fits all categories. It was a good sweetness level and had pumpkin spice flavor for a reasonable price. We also concluded that Grounds had the best hot pumpkin spice latte that matched all categories (and yes, beat Starbucks for best pumpkin spice latte). Although these are our personal favorites for pumpkin spice lattes, each drink we tried on this taste test was unique and fits everyone’s pumpkin spice needs differently. Which pumpkin spice latte are you drinking this fall season?