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Friday, September 29, 2023
September 29 , 2023

Ranking Starbucks’ fall menu items

Starbucks dropped its new fall menu on Aug. 5, so naturally I had to try them all. Each season, I make it my mission to try all the new products.

After careful analysis of seven products (I was too broke to get every single one, sorry loves), including a drink off the secret menu, I ranked them from worst to best on a 10-point scale.

7. Pumpkin Spice Latte – 5/10

The pumpkin spice latte is easily the most over-hyped drink ever to exist. Even Dunkin drinkers know fall at Starbucks means the return of the pumpkin spice latte, so you would think it would at least meet the standards of a basic Starbucks girl like me. Wrong.

For a drink so hyped up, I was surprised by its bitter, underwhelming flavor. Any customer would assume that the word “pumpkin” in the drink’s title would mean it tastes like pumpkin, but the pumpkin flavor is largely absent like college kids in a Friday morning class. Don’t even get me started on the weird after-taste.

This latte is something I envision a soccer mom drinking on her way to pick up her kids at school. If you’re going to spend $7 on a coffee, the taste should match its price, but I wouldn’t spend more than $2 on this overpriced convenience store brew.

JimmyStardust, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
JimmyStardust, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

6. Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino – 6/10

Remember back in middle school when you wore those brown ugg boots, leggings and a PINK sweatshirt virtually everywhere? Unless you’ve trauma-blocked this memory, you would also remember getting a Starbucks frappuccino to sip on while you window-shopped because you were too broke to buy anything.

Except now you’re in college, and the pumpkin spice frappuccino has moved from a trend to a calorie-filled, diabetes-causing concoction that you can’t drink in one sitting.

This drink has a solid balance of pumpkin flavor, but with more of a funky iced coffee texture than a frappuccino should. If you are looking for something sweet and trying to cut back on ice cream, the frappuccino is an ideal choice.

5. Pumpkin Cold Brew – 7/10

Living in Florida means there is no such thing as fall — the leaves don’t change color and it doesn’t get cold, defeating the whole purpose of fall.

I assume about 70% of people in South Florida either don’t know what fall is like or don’t appreciate it. Those same people probably want to be boujee and hop on the fall aesthetic trend without actually liking any of the flavors.

The pumpkin cold brew is your basic iced coffee with a weak pumpkin flavor. The texture is smooth and strikes a good balance between bitter and sweet. The drink has 185 mg of caffeine, so it’s great for a quick energy boost.

If you fit the criteria for that 70% of people, this drink is for you. Matter of fact, this barely tastes like pumpkin, so as long as you like coffee and want to be boujee, order this next time you’re at Starbucks. Post it on your Instagram story, everyone will love it.

Embed from Getty Images

4. Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin – 8/10

Do you ever look at something and think, “Oh my gosh what is that? It looks so weird.” That was my reaction to the pumpkin cream cheese muffin.

In case you’ve never seen it, the experience was like seeing a newborn baby fresh out of the womb, but after having the baby for a while you start to like it.

Though the muffin looks weird, its taste makes up for its odd appearance. The pumpkin flavor is well-balanced, so it tastes like your average pumpkin muffin, but with a cream cheese filling in the center. The filling is a weird texture that is slightly thicker than a Boston Creme donut filling, but more gooey.

Seeds are not my favorite. The pumpkin seeds around the edges shouldn’t be there — just pick them off and this will be well-worth your money.

3. Hot Apple Crisp Oatmilk Macchiato – 8.5/10

As kids, we absolutely lived for those snow days where we could go outside and build a snow fort to have snowball fights with your friends. After a long day of playing in 20 degree weather, we came back inside to a house that felt warmer than usual. Our moms would give us a blanket to snuggle with and make you hot chocolate.

If this memory doesn’t ring a bell, you either live in the South or need therapy. Like this memory, the hot apple crisp oatmilk macchiato was oddly comforting and felt like a warm hug.

If hot apple cider and an apple pie had a baby, it would be this drink. The drink is light and smooth, but be sure to stir well because all of the flavored syrup sits at the bottom.

"Pumpkin Scones at Starbucks" by wuestenigel is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
"Pumpkin Scones at Starbucks" by wuestenigel is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

2. Pumpkin Scone – 9/10

I once heard someone on TV compare a scone to a stone and have since been scared to try one in fear of breaking my teeth. I am happy to report that the pumpkin scone is super soft and warm.

The sweetness of the layer of frosting on top of the scone can only be compared to those pixie sticks you had as a kid where you would just pour a whole sleeve of flavored sugar into your mouth. Thankfully, the scone base balances out the sugar, so you won’t necessarily go into a sugar coma.

The treat is messy, but the pumpkin flavor is well incorporated into the scone and tastes exactly how you would expect it to be — no surprises. Just a few bites of it can cause you to go into a sugar coma, so maybe don’t eat this if you have a lot to do that day.

1. Iced Chai Latte with Pumpkin Sauce and Pumpkin Cold Foam – 10/10

Hands down, the iced chai latte is the best drink. This “secret menu” drink was trending on TikTok last year, and has been my go-to drink during the fall ever since. The iced chai latte has the best balance of pumpkin – not too overpowering. Yes, the drink is not the cheapest but totally worth it.

The iced chai latte is the perfect combination of everything I’m looking for in a drink: light, smooth, flavorful and has a fair amount of caffeine that will keep you up without having you bounce off the walls.

You can even customize the drink to your liking. My personal customization is: venti iced chai latte with three pumps of pumpkin sauce, three pumps of brown sugar syrup, two pumps of vanilla and pumpkin cold foam.

I am electing not to bash a stereotype for this fall product because that would mean insulting myself and I don’t need my ego ripped on right now. However, if you do try this drink and absolutely hate it… tough.

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