By Taylor Mascetta, Resident Coffee Addict
It’s finally “Christian Girl” Autumn, and you already know what’s about to happen – pumpkin spice is about to rise from the dead and completely overwhelm everything in existence. No one is safe. Cereal, hummus, and even toothpaste fall victim to this flavoring, and the one to blame for its absolute dominion is America’s beloved franchise coffee chain: Starbucks.
However, Starbucks has introduced something so revolutionary, so delectable, and simply incredible, that I almost forgive them for shoving pumpkin spice lattes down my throat every fall. I’m talking about its newest member of the pumpkin spice family, the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew. I dare to say that it is far superior to the infamous Pumpkin Spice Latte.
The pumpkin cream cold brew is relatively new to the Starbucks family, only being released in August 2019. The drink combines Starbucks’ signature cold brew with a touch of vanilla syrup, topped with a thick layer of pumpkin cream. If you’re not familiar with the greatness of cold brew, it is made by soaking coffee beans in cold water for 12+ hours. For reference, Starbucks steeps its freshly ground coffee beans for over 20 hours to make its signature brew. The baristas also add a touch of pumpkin spice on top of the foam.
I ordered it one day since A) it’s still is 80º outside, and B) it was late August and I refused to purchase a pumpkin spice latte until at least September. So I figured why not?
Let me tell you. My life changed the moment I had that first sip. When that pumpkin cream first melted in my mouth, I was a changed woman. My eyes were opened to the complex world of crafting cold brew. I purchased a $12 cold brew maker on Amazon, and it lasted a day before I dropped and shattered it in the sink. I immediately ordered another one, this time, shatterproof. Nobody could part me from my newfound obsession. This immediate reaction has only happened to me once before. That was when I had matcha green tea for the first time (we’ll discuss that addiction another time.) Basically, if a drink hooks me that quickly, it’s GOOD.
I’m a sucker for sweet drinks – I’ll never pass up a caramel macchiato. However, this drink combines the sweet, pumpkin flavors with the bitter coffee taste perfectly. When the barista hands you the drink, the foam already starts seeping into the coffee to create a creamy, rich concoction. The sweetened pumpkin taste pairs exceptionally well with the cold brew itself; it’s satisfyingly sweet without burning a hole through your tongue. In addition, the cold brew offers a level of smooth sweetness without the extra acidity, and it has higher levels of caffeine than a regular cup of coffee! What more can you ask for? It’s fall in a cup.
However, how does it compare to the classic PSL? The pumpkin spice latte has been a Starbucks staple since 2003 and has defined Instagram trends and Pinterest boards ever since. It combines Starbucks’ signature espresso with pumpkin sauce and milk. It also happens to be overrated.
I will admit that I don’t hate the PSL – in fact, I generally enjoy the taste! It’s an absolute fall classic that you cannot say no to mid-October. However, I’ve experienced quite a few scarring experiences with it. It’s the fact that I’ve burned my tongue on it countless times, so it inevitably becomes a painful experience. At least the cold brew is iced so I can avoid this issue. Plus, the September weather is still as hot as summer, yet I’m expected to immediately start depending on warm coffee drinks in 80º heat? NO!
Yes, there is an iced version of the PSL. It’s pretty good, but loses its flavor fast. This brings me to my next point – where’s the coffee taste? The milk, not even the pumpkin flavoring, often overwhelms the espresso. The pumpkin cream cold brew does not run into this problem, since there isn’t any added milk. The foam does its job. The pumpkin spice latte, on occasion, becomes too sweet and tastes more like a hot chocolate type drink rather than a coffee one. It also barely wakes me up! When I spend my DCB at Starbucks, I expect to be caffeinated.
To continue, the PSL is OVERPRICED. There, I said it. Let’s say you want to grab a grande PSL. It’s usually $4.95, depending on the location. That’s admittedly not super expensive, but compared to the other drinks, it’s significantly pricier. Average grande sizes for regular menu lattes, such as the Cinnamon Dolce and the Chai Lattes, typically sell between $4.25 and $4.55. The pumpkin cream cold brew is a member of this category, its grande size selling for about $4.45. It’s a difference of about 50 cents, but as a broke college student, IT MATTERS. Starbucks is where my DCB goes to die, and if I can save 50 cents, I will.
If coffee really isn’t your thing, go for the PSL. I will not stop you. It’s a great, sweeter alternative to the regular lattes. But if you’re looking for a refreshing caffeine fix, come try the pumpkin cream cold brew. It will change your life. (Well, for the month of October, at least.)