Fall. It's a time when the leaves turn bright reds, oranges and yellows before falling to the ground in the gentle breeze, when the weather begins to show signs of the approaching winter, cooling off and losing its summer humidity. A contemplative season, one to enjoy the ever shortening days relaxing before winter comes rolling in. And, of course, run to the nearest restaurant chain to guzzle down pumpkin spice lattés before they're inevitably yanked away until next fall.
The question is, how do you choose the right latté from the dizzying array of options out there? Before you know it, fall will be over and you'll be curled up in the fetal position still trying to make up your mind. Luckily for coffee lovers, you won't have to be deprived of this seasonal treat because you can't decide which place to patronize, nor will you have to suffer a caffeine-induced aneurysm from trying them all at once.
Alright Blazers, let me save some time and advise you to skip McDonald's for the PSL. Their version has a gritty, bottom-of-the-pot taste to the coffee and only the faintest traces of any sort of flavor, pumpkin spice or otherwise. If you do go with McDonald's for the latté hookup, they have the option of having it served hot or iced, with regular or nonfat milk. The hot, nonfat version might've been disappointing had the coffee come from anywhere but McDonald's. It was also surprisingly pricy for the restaurant; the smallest size was $2.28. If you like your PSL to taste weak and burned, definitely head to McDonald's this fall.
Last year, Starbucks seemed to be the only place selling PSLs in the fall. Now, with several other chains encroaching on their territory, the granddaddy of overpriced premium coffee beverages is still going strong. Starbucks' pumpkin spice latté has the greatest depth of flavor out of the three: the pumpkin is mild and mellow, while whatever spice that constitutes the "S" in PSL is vibrant and heady on the palate. The medium or "grande" size comes in at $4.65, certainly the most expensive of the three and while the flavor of the latté is enjoyable, the syrup used to give it that flavor leaves a vaguely unpleasant, filmy aftertaste on the mouth. The Four Corners location is likely to be busy, hectic and considerably less than comfortable about a third of the time, so it isn't the best for a quick pickup. During an off-hour, in the evening, they served the latté quickly but almost lukewarm, which betrayed the saccharine qualities of the syrup. Nevertheless, if you don't mind spending the extra money, Starbucks' PSL is pretty enjoyable.
Coffee connoisseurs prepare to be shocked: 7 Eleven's pumpkin spice latté was actually quite good. A convenience store might not be many people's idea of a good place to pick up quality espresso, but 7 Eleven delivers, and for the lowest price. Since coffee retrieval here is self-service, there's no wait like at Starbucks. The extra large size for any coffee beverage at 7 Eleven is $1.79, making it the thriftiest option. The PSL itself was smooth and rich, while not particularly nuanced. Still, all things considered, 7 Eleven is the best place to go in Four Corners for this seasonal treat. If you want to save a couple dollars and not miss out on the annual PSL craze, you should try it out.
Dylan Ahunhodjaev. Hi everyone--my name is Dylan Ahunhodjaev. The first name is Welsh (but I'm not Welsh) and the last name is Uzbek (I'm Uzbek, from Uzbekistan, or at least my dad is). My parents met in the Peace Corps. It's a cute story, remind me to ... More »