Pumpkin spice latte is America’s unofficial drink of fall. Starbucks isn’t the only shop carrying the drink ― many local coffeehouses do their own versions too. From the end of August until well after Thanksgiving, coffee drinkers are awash in pumpkin spice.
But if you’re just a bit tired of those flavors and ready to try other coffee and tea drinks, we have some great ideas. Don’t worry ― these drinks will still make you want to wrap yourself in a knit sweater and cuddle up in front of a warm fire.
We spoke to baristas and coffee roasters around the country about their favorite fall drinks, and these are the beverages you could be ordering instead of a PSL. (For those who don’t live near one of these shops, we’ve included the ingredients, so you can ask your local barista to make the drinks for you.)
Main ingredients: espresso, white chocolate, brown sugar, maple spice, milk.
Despite the location of coffee and bagel shop Spill the Beans in the always warm San Diego, lead barista Connor Nerat still knows how to make a mean fall drink. “When I think of fall, fresh baked goods and spices come to mind, which is where the inspiration for our seasonal menu items come from,” he told HuffPost. “The combination of white chocolate, brown sugar, maple spice, milk and espresso evoke the warm and cozy feeling associated with the change of season from summer to fall.”
It’s fitting that the name “maple blondie” evokes a dessert, as Nerat recommended pairing the drink with a breakfast-time pastry: a warm, flaky croissant.
Hot Butterbeer Latte
Main ingredients: espresso, steamed whole milk, caramel syrup, cinnamon syrup, English toffee syrup.
We’re not J.K.’ing ― this play on a drink from Harry Potter sounds delicious. Mike Ross, who worked as a barista before starting coffee equipment company Majesty Coffee, noted that butterbeer lattes are perfect if you need to take a break from gourd-based tastes. “It’s a mix of warm fall flavors: caramel, toffee and cinnamon,” he said.
Ross added that it’s typically made with steamed whole milk, but oat milk works just fine. And if the multiple syrups in this drink aren’t enough sugar, he recommended adding salted caramel and whipped cream.
Orange Cardamom Latte
Main ingredients: espresso, steamed milk, orange syrup, ground cardamom.
Blueprint Coffee, a roaster and coffee shop in St. Louis, previously served up this citrusy drink. “The orange cardamom latte had a pretty significant cult following and is very simple to make,” said barista and coffee lead Alex Werth.
To prepare it, Blueprint would mix orange cardamom syrup with a double shot of espresso and steamed milk. But since your local shop likely doesn’t have that fancy syrup, Werth said that a half-ounce of orange syrup and a dash of ground cardamom mixed into the espresso should do the trick.
Bananas Foster Coffee
Main ingredients: espresso, milk, caramel, vanilla, cinnamon, banana, spiced rum (optional), banana liqueur (optional).
The dessert-inspired latte served at PJ’s Coffee locations can be ordered hot or iced, with flavors of banana and brown sugar. Seeing as how PJ’s has its roots in booze-friendly New Orleans, it shouldn’t be a surprise that roastmaster Felton Jones also gives an option for the drink to be spiked with rum and banana liqueur. But if you won’t be near a PJ’s anytime soon, simply order a latte with a pump of caramel, vanilla, cinnamon and banana syrups to achieve a similar flavor.
Caramel Chai Latte Or Dirty Chai
Main ingredients: chai with caramel or espresso and other ingredients.
Here are two fun plays on chai to get you in the mood for fall. Melissa Raef, retail director at Denver’s Novo Coffee, said the roaster’s housemade chai is a year-round hit, but demand spikes in the fall. “While not all chais are the same, ours tastes awesome with caramel as a sort of nod to a caramel apple,” Raef said. Simply ask your barista for a pump of caramel syrup and you’re on your way.
Noelle Fagerlund of the Bay Area’s Highwire Coffee speaks highly of dirty chai, which is simply a shot of espresso mixed into a chai latte. “The chai tea provides a bold, spicy base, typically featuring a mix of black tea, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, ginger and pepper, which offers the warmth we’re looking for in the crisp fall months,” she said.
Evan Shay at Chicago’s coffee and doughnut emporium BomboBar also enjoys the delights of dirty chai. “It’s one of my favorites to drink in the fall, not only because it’ll warm you up, but making it dirty with an espresso shot provides a strong caffeine kick to wake you up on a chilly day,” Shay said. If anyone would know how to warm up on a cold day, it would be a Chicagoan.
Main ingredients: espresso, milk, local honey.
A pump or two of flavored syrup is all a barista needs to add flavor to coffee. But Austin Ferarri, co-owner of Cincinnati’s Mom ’n ’Em Coffee, recommends a fall drink that uses a natural sweetener.
“We take a few grams of Carriage House Farm honey and mix it with a full shot of our espresso blend and milk,” Ferarri said. “The drink is on the sweeter side, but the honey characteristic really shines through. It adds a soothing thickness to the drink that could be good to combat fall colds.”
Nitro In The Clouds
Main ingredients: nitro cold brew coffee, lemon, orange, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger.
California roaster Klatch Coffee, which has six locations in the state, offers a fun fall play on a nitro coffee. “Fall is an interesting season in Southern California,” explained Holly Perry, a barista and the company’s director of retail. “While we get the occasional cool and cloudy day, we more often have what feels like endless days of summer sun.” That calls for some citrus sweetness atop the nitro cold brew coffee to remind your tastebuds of the seasons changing.
If you can’t make it to a Klatch location, head to your local shop and order a nitro cold brew with cream (regular or whipped), vanilla sweetener and a tiny bit of orange or cinnamon syrup.
Main ingredients: espresso, steamed milk, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, sugar.
If you love pumpkin spice but aren’t too wild about pumpkin, the spiced latte from NYC’s Birch Coffee should hit the spot. “The spiced latte is a festive drink that celebrates the transition from the cold brews of summer to colder temperatures,” said Paul Schlader, co-founder and head roaster. “The ingredients include a mix of familiar fall spices like nutmeg and cinnamon.”
In short, you don’t need more than a few spices, pumpkin or otherwise, to jazz up a plain cup of coffee.