I’d be lying if I didn’t say summer was my favorite season.
But a close second favorite time of year is fall.
I especially love early fall when the days are still warm, the leaves are just starting to turn, and nature takes on an unmistakable vibrancy.
And if you love custom coffee shop drinks as much as I do, you’ll join me in celebrating the opening of pumpkin spice season!
This seasonal drink celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. It remains a staple on the Starbucks fall menu even after all these years.
Although I love the ease of simply driving through my local coffee shop, I don’t love the price tag or the amount of sugar in the pumpkin spice signature latte.
But after trying it for the first time, I was hooked and wanted to create a homemade version that was cheaper and slightly healthier.
After several trials and errors, I finally created a copycat version that closely mimics the original.
Stick with me as we explore this fall classic, and click the link for the complete recipe if you want to skip to the good stuff.
Let’s get to it!
What is a Pumpkin Spice Latte?
This fall favorite is essentially pumpkin pie in drink form.
It has a kick of caffeine from hot espresso and is one of the best ways to stay warm on a chilly fall day!
The original is served with a little whipped cream and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice.
Starbucks pumpkin spice latte launched the cascade of pumpkin spice products enjoyed by consumers over the past 20 years.
Although I won’t argue that pumpkin spice makes a delectable hand soap scent, I’m not sure we need pumpkin spice-scented beard oil, dog shampoo, or pumpkin spice-flavored Twinkies.
Regardless of your thoughts on the pumpkin spice craze, let’s break down what’s in a DIY pumpkin spice latte.
What’s in a Pumpkin Spice Latte?
There are only a few essential components to this iconic fall drink.
The original pumpkin latte features 2% milk, but feel free to use whatever kind of milk you have in your fridge.
As I am lactose-intolerant, I generally opt for oat milk because I have found that it forms the creamiest, most stable froth.
Unsweetened almond milk is another viable option. This type of milk will add a slightly nutty flavor that pairs well with pumpkin spice beverages.
If you’re cutting back on calories, try skim milk. Skim milk also froths pretty well, an added bonus.
You can also use whole milk if you want more body and substance to the drink.
One of the best aspects of recreating coffee shop drinks at home is that you have complete control of what goes in your drink!
Most coffee chains add espresso shots to the drink but feel free to try your preferred way of making coffee.
A French press works great for custom drinks because you can easily brew a slightly stronger cup simply by adding more grounds than your usual cup of joe.
You can also use a regular coffee maker by following the same principle of adding slightly more grounds.
Brewing a shot of espresso with a Keurig or similar machine is another great way to infuse a touch of caffeine into the drink.
If you have an espresso machine, feel free to use it to pull a couple shots of espresso for a more authentic latte flavor.
You can also consider decaf coffee if you’re avoiding caffeine.
But honestly, the original does not have a robust coffee flavor, so feel free to skip this ingredient altogether if you want.
The coffee shop version gets its flavor from pumpkin spice syrup, a sugary concoction of artificial flavors and sweeteners.
But you can recreate this flavor at home by adding pumpkin pie flavoring and the sweetener of your choice.
If you’re feeling incredibly ambitious, try using real pumpkin puree!
Popular sweetener options for this drink include a homemade simple syrup made with cane sugar and water.
Using brown sugar for the simple syrup will give the drink a slightly caramelized flavor.
You can also use a touch of maple syrup or honey to sweeten this drink, as either option will complement the pumpkin flavor nicely.
And, of course, what’s a homemade pumpkin spice latte recipe without the warm and comforting flavors of a few spices?
My favorite ones to add to this particular recipe are cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, but feel free to add a bit of nutmeg if you like.
Turmeric also adds a slightly different flavor to the drink.
Using real spices may also give you a boost of added health benefits such as improved blood sugar control, hormone regulation, and cancer-fighting antioxidants.
It’s another reason to opt for your version at home over the coffee shop ones!
Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tbsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 cup strongly brewed coffee or 1-2 shots espresso
- 1 cup milk
- 1-3 tsp honey, maple syrup, or homemade simple syrup sweeten to taste
- 2 tbsp pumpkin puree
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- whipped cream garnish
- ground cinnamon or nutmeg garnish
- Combine the ground cinnamon, ginger, and cloves in a small airtight container. Mix thoroughly. The spice mixture makes enough for several servings.
- Brew coffee using a French press or alternate brew method.
- Combine 1/2 teaspoon of the spice mixture with the milk in a small saucepan. Add the pumpkin, vanilla extract, and sweetener of your choice. Heat to slightly hotter than your desired drinking temperature.
- Once the coffee has brewed and the pumpkin mixture has reached the correct temperature, combine 1/4 cup of coffee and the mixture in a blender. You can alternately use a milk frother, if you have one available.
- Blend on high for 1-2 minutes to add body to the drink.
- Pour into the mug of your choice, top with whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg, and enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you get a pumpkin spice latte year-round at most coffee shops?
Nope. It’s a seasonal drink, so you can only find this delightful beverage at most coffee shops in the fall.
Can you buy pumpkin-flavored coffee syrup?
Yes, you can find this flavor of coffee syrup on Amazon. A few different brands are available, and you can even find a sugar-free version.
How do you make a pumpkin spice latte with flavored syrup instead of pumpkin pie filling?
Add milk, a couple of pumps of pumpkin spice-flavored syrup, and espresso or strongly brewed coffee to a small saucepan. Heat to your desired temperature, and once hot, pour into your favorite mug.
Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon, and enjoy!
If there’s not enough “spice” flavor, you can always add some as directed above however you will probably want to strain the drink to eliminate spicy sludge from the bottom of your mug.
Adding real pumpkin puree helps eliminate the stray spices from the drink so when making it as suggested above, you won’t need to strain it.
Can you use a milk frother instead of a blender to make a pumpkin spice latte?
Yes! Either a handheld or a stand-alone frother works great for this recipe. Here’s my favorite frother:
Is pumpkin healthy for you?
Yes. Pumpkin is an excellent source of fiber. It also has multiple vitamins and minerals to support a healthy immune system and fight off chronic diseases.
Pumpkin is nutrient-dense with a high water content, making it ideal for people who want to lose weight.
How much sugar is in a pumpkin spice latte?
A 12-ounce pumpkin spice latte has around 38 grams of sugar. That’s a comparable amount of sugar to a can of Pepsi.
And as the sizes get bigger, so does the total amount of added sugar. A 16-ounce size has 50 grams of sugar, while the 20-ounce boasts a whopping 63 grams.
For comparison, current health guidelines say women should stick to 24 grams or less of sugar daily. In contrast, men are limited to 36 grams.
Even a small pumpkin spice latte from your local coffee shop puts you over the daily sugar intake limit.
But by making your own drink at home, you can significantly decrease the amount of added sugar without any sacrifice in flavor.
When making the above recipe, I add only 1 teaspoon of honey and find it balances well with the other flavors in the drink.
The drink ends up neither too sweet nor too bitter, but is just right!
The next time you’re craving a little fall flavor, give this homemade pumpkin spice latte a try!
One of the most fun aspects about the homemade version is that by making it with natural ingredients, such as pumpkin and cinnamon, you’re getting some of the added health benefits of these superfoods.
Although it takes a bit more time than ordering it from your local drive-thru, I promise the extra time will be worth it in the end!
Another great thing about making custom coffeehouse-inspired drinks at home is that you have total control over the ingredients.
This means avoiding artificial colors and flavoring and sticking to the good stuff found in fresh ingredients.
You can also significantly reduce your sugar intake by adding WAY less sugar than most coffee shops add to their drinks.
And there isn’t anyone out there who can argue about saving money or empty calories.
If you love this recipe, check out my other great coffee-inspired content!
- How to Make a Golden Milk Latte with Turmeric
- 8 Surprising Benefits of French Press Coffee
- Copycat Dunkin’ Iced Chai Latte Recipe
- How to Make a Copycat Raspberry Green Tea with Bubbles
- The Best Cold Bew Container for Home Brewing
- How to Make a Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew with Caramel
- Can You Froth Oat Milk? Your Guide to Frothing Oat Milk
- How to Make an Iced Blonde Vanilla Bean Coconut Latte
- How to Make a Raspberry Chai Tea Latte
- How to Make a Caramel Raspberry Espresso Shaker