Ranking America’s most patently ridiculous fall beverages
Make no mistake, after football and gutting Bambi’s mom in the woods, sucking down a week’s worth of nutmeggy, whipped cream-crowned calories in a single cardboard cup has become America’s favorite fall pastime. From pumpkin this to maple that, seemingly every coffee nook within defensible walking distance from your office has rolled out their own high-fructose harvest special, and we’re here to rank the most obscene autumn elixirs we could find on a scale of “my free punch card was full” to “oh honey, do you want to talk about it?” So grab your insulin pen and join us on the highway to ill.
SPLURGE LEVEL: YELLOW
Peet’s Coffee and Cold Brew Fog Latte
Quiet, contemplative, serene. Like stepping out onto the porch wrapped in a blanket to find the first frost receding from the field beyond which suddenly reminds you how much you miss your first dog, Peet’s Cold Brew Fog Latte combines East African Baridi Blend Cold Brew with chicory and whipped milk to create a cool, velvety concoction that won’t mandate an emergency gas station restroom pilgrimage five stop lights down the road.
David’s Tea Carrot Cupcake Tea
Calories: It’s herbs in water, relax.
Here’s a novel idea: Hot water that tastes like a gooey, cream cheese frosting-slathered pastry. A blend of carrot, rooibos, cocoa shells, cinnamon, and “natural” whipped cream flavoring, David’s Tea’s Carrot Cupcake Tea certainly gets the guilt-free thing right, but if you’re trying to get through life without a little guilt, you may as well end it now and save yourself the embarrassment of buying $5 cupcake tea.
David’s Tea S’mores Chai Tea
Calories: See above.
Not to be outdone by its soulless ginger brother, David’s Tea’ S’mores Chai Tea ups the absurdity by replacing any semblance of icky vegetables with marshmallows, graham cracker brittle, and chocolate chips. Milk and sugar recommended, campfire not included.
SPLURGE LEVEL: ORANGE
Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Maple Pecan Coffee
When the market research groups finally turned on Pumpkin Spice™ America’s preeminent joe-peddling powers put their heads together and plucked “maple pecan” from the foliage-speckled ether. Enter Dunkin’ Donuts’ Iced Maple Pecan Coffee, which is more or the less the same as the others, only it’s available iced, in case you live in Florida but want to pretend you're somewhere (anywhere) else every single day of your wretched, humidity-stricken existence between the months of September and November.
Starbucks’ Maple Pecan Latte
Speaking of “maple pecan,” Starbucks take on the new fabricated beverage buzzword ups the ante with a frothy combination of espresso, steamed milk, and, in their words, “notes of maple syrup, pecan and brown butter,” which roughly translates to “more sugar”. Once those ingredients are hastily mixed and your name is comically misspelled on the cup, your not-so-friendly neighborhood barista then tops your Maple Pecan Latte with a vibrant autumnal sprinkle of, you guessed it, more sugar. Oh and don't worry, that newfound heart murmur is totally, completely normal.
SPLURGE LEVEL: RED
Dunkin’ Donuts Pumpkin Hot Macchiato
It’s a sign of the changing fall beverage times that we’ve made it through half this list without uttering the word “pumpkin”, but Dunkin’ Donuts Pumpkin Hot Macchiato—a double shot of espresso poured over steamed milk and hit with roughly thirteen pumps of pumpkin swirl syrup—kicks off a run on gourd-based goodies in some style. We’re still not sure what the target demo for a Dunkin’ macchiato is beyond Southie-townie-whose-last-scratch-off-was-a-winner, but hey, we hope you wicked enjoy it anyway.
The Coffee Bean’s Pumpkin Cold Brew Almond Milk Latte
If you prefer your pumpkin pie cold for breakfast at 5am before a long day of trampling old ladies in a Black Friday Best Buy line, then The Coffee Bean’s Pumpkin Cold Brew Almond Milk Latte is for you. A chilled, lactose-tolerant version of the classic pumpkin/milk/coffee trifecta, the recipe for this silky smooth splurge may read like a Millenial Madlib, but the experience—bolstered with a healthy dollop of vanilla bean—is pure Baby Boomer gluttony.
Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte
Ahh, The Granddaddy. The BMOC. The Original Sin. Whatever you want to call it, the Pumpkin Spice Latte—or PSL, as Starbucks Operating Thetans affectionately refer to it—is the autumn indulgence by which all others are measured. Upping the stakes considerably this year is Buck’s new limited edition (and vaguely orange-ish) pumpkin spice whipped cream, which you can slather all over the top of this bad boy between now and October 8th (or whenever you keel over and die from glucose shock between now and October 8th).
Dutch Bros Coffee’s Snickerdoodle Latte
The Dutch Bros’ Snickerdoodle Latte is exactly what it sounds like: The liquid incarnate of a snickerdoodle cookie from chain coffee’s equivalent to Sonic. It features chocolate macadamia nut, white chocolate, cinnamon sprinkles, and the milk weight of a prize dairy cow, and yes, we are just as skeptical about that 300-calorie quote as you are.
SPLURGE LEVEL: MIDNIGHT
Caribou Coffee’s Pumpkin White Chocolate Mocha
Calling all Egyptian boy kings, Tantric sex gods, and Saudi oil tycoons. If you’re looking for true opulence, then a quick trip to your local Caribou Coffee for a Pumpkin White Chocolate Mocha is a necessary (and holy) pilgrimage. Bursting with 770 arrhythmia-inducing calories of real pumpkin (the only drink on this list to make that claim), white chocolate, and espresso, the Pumpkin White Chocolate Mocha stands foam and whipped cream above the rest, scoffing at its puny pumpkin brethren like Jabba the Hut on a slime bender. Sure, it’s not for the faint of heart (literally), but for maximalists and fatalists alike, it is the fall beverage to rule them all and in the allspice bind them.