I've never understood the hatred for the pumpkin spice latte. I understand that liking the PSL somehow connotes "basicness," much in the same way that donning a pair of Uggs when the temps drop below 60 or purchasing a piece of pre-framed wall art from Target will earn one the same sort of scorn that we former goth/grunge kids used to reserve for the preppy cliques in high school. Ugh, all those morons are talking about Leslie's new Dooney & Bourke purse; like that matters more than Kurt Cobain's death!
Apparently, we are all still in high school 20 years on, which means that an admission of enjoying pumpkin spice lattes forces hip society to place you on the same general intelligence level with those cretins who think "Creep" is Radiohead's best song.
Count me in both groups, because both are great by me. But if you aren't quite ready to come to terms with your own basic attributes, or if you simply prefer to support local businesses rather than coffee juggernauts, indulge in one of these local alternatives to the PSL instead.
Pumpkin Spice Vietnamese Iced Coffee from Caphin
Sure, it's true that Starbucks is actually adding real pumpkin to the recipe this year, but everyone knows the real draw of the PSL is the pumpkin pie spice blend with nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon. You'll find all three flavors in Caphin's returning seasonal flavor, Pumpkin Spice, along with the stout espresso and sweetened condensed milk that make this Vietnamese iced coffee utterly addictive. Seek it out in its signature brown bottles at grocery stores, coffee shops and restaurants across the city.
Fall Spice Latte at Revival Market
When it finally cools down, seek out this new addition at the Heights cafe where everything is made in-house—even the syrup used to flavor the Fall Spice Latte. Revival blends ginger, maple, nutmeg and cinnamon into a syrup with a nice bite that keeps it from being too sweet.
550 Heights Blvd., revivalmarket.com
The Spectre at Boomtown Coffee
This isn't a seasonal special—you can find The Spectre on the menu at this 19th Street coffee shop year-round—but it's best enjoyed during the fall, when you can appreciate the nutmeg and cinnamon in this agave nectar-sweetened latte without it feeling like someone lit an Autumn Nights candle in the middle of July.
242 W. 19th St., boomtowncoffee.com
Punkin Latte at Inversion Coffeehouse
This Montrose coffee shop/art gallery offers a straight-up faux PSL each year, and this year the Punkin Latte—as it's been termed—offers the same great PSL spice taste, but made with way better shots of espresso courtesy of local roaster Greenway Coffee.
1953 Montrose Blvd., inversioncoffeehouse.com
Pumpkin Spice Latte at Mod Coffeehouse
Much like Inversion, this Galveston shop doesn't mess around; no sense walking to the perpetually-packed Starbucks near Pier 21 when you can just stop at this locally-owned joint filled with cozy couches and get a PSL that's every bit as good. Mod knows which side their bread is buttered on this time of year, recently telling its fans on Instagram: "Alright Galveston, it's two digits below 70, you know what that means... Break out your parkas and ugg boots, we're ready to make you pumpkin spice lattes! Bring it!"
2126 Postoffice St., Galveston, modcoffeehouse.com