It’s that time of year again: The leaves are beginning to fall, the city is cooling off and the lattes are spiced—pumpkin spiced that is. Nothing truly marks the beginning of the fall like local baristas calling out pumpkin spice latte orders from our favorite coffee shops.
As a coffee purist, I’m not the biggest fan of foamy, orange brews— just give me the traditional black hot drip. I prefer my pumpkin flavors in a pie, but alas, every year, the pumpkin spice latte is the seasonal craze, marking the informal start of autumn.
This go-around, we’re breaking the not-so-official rules and ushering in alternatives to the PSL, and giving a few other warm (and cold) drinks the shine they deserve.
Pumpkin Spice Drinks
Looking to skip the line at Starbucks? Try out these local coffee shops instead for your PSL fix.
This local brewery regularly serves up creative IPAs, hard seltzers, and ales, but in the fall their pumpkin-spiced latte is a simple, brawny drink mixed with seasonal spices and of course, coffee. It’s your typical PSL, and best described by Buff Brew employees as “Basic AF. A Tupperware party in your Yoga Pants.”
Snooze is preparing for the brisk weather with their version of the PSL— a frothy latte with two shots of the Rainforest Alliance-approved espresso, blended with their pumpkin spice syrup made in-house. But that’s not it for the breakfast eatery’s pumpkin offerings—this year, Snooze will roll out a full pumpkin spice-themed menu, complete with pumpkin pecan pancakes, pumpkin spice bacon, and if for the extra spicy folks, a pumpkin spice martini.
Over the pumpkin spice craze? Make way for pumpkin pie instead. All three Houston locations of Slowpokes are serving up some southern sweetness with their Punkin’ Pie Latte. With a blend of pumpkin pie sauce, cinnamon, espresso, and your choice of milk—go almond for this, you won’t regret it!—you’ll immediately taste the nostalgia of holidays with grandma.
Houston’s climate in the fall season is pretty unpredictable—so why not have drinks that can weather our bipolar temperatures? Segundo Coffee Lab in the East End gives the best of both worlds. Order the pumpkin-flavored cold brew or keep it straightforward with the PSL, mixed with their in house made pumpkin spice syrup, nutmeg, vanilla, and Mexican spices, which also can be served hot or iced.
If you’re anything like this writer and pumpkin spice just doesn’t do it for you, we’ve got a few selections that still usher in fall, just without the piquancy of pumpkin.
Nestled in Sawyer Yards is the City Orchard cidery, which offers wine and hard ciders for all to enjoy. For your off-the-clock wind-down, test out the taproom’s cider flight. You’ll get a boozy fall fix and look photogenic while doing it. Choose four different drinks from their cider series, which are either 100 percent apple ciders, traditional ciders blended with other fruits, and small batch ciders.
Pumpkin isn’t the only spice that deserves some shine this season. If you want something that still offers that kick, Wild, located in the Heights has a White Widow Latte, ideal for those gloomy fall mornings. Served hot, the brew is white mocha and brown sugar with an added 20 milligrams of the coffee shop’s Full Spectrum CBD. How’s that for an a.m. wake-up call?
This Washington Corridor outpost has a rustic feel that naturally screams fall, and their lavender vanilla oat milk latte will surely ease you into relaxation mode. The shot of pulled espresso gives you the much-needed caffeine boost in the mornings, but the house-made lavender and vanilla bean syrups make you forget you’re even drinking coffee. The earthy flavor is the beverage equivalent of a warm hug during sweater weather.
This Heights roastery offers everything you would want in an afternoon coffee break. Try their salted caramel mocha or the latte if you want something that feels autumnal. At Boomtown, their chocolate and caramel syrups are made fresh daily, and the sea salt makes for a sweet and salty balance.