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A Fall Necessity: Who Has the Best Pumpkin Spice?

There is something comfortable about pumpkin spice lattes. “I love pumpkin spice, it makes me feel like fall is here,” says Amelia Repp (‘24). When tasting something from the past, we are transported once again to that season or time. The cinnamon-spiced drink, normally mixed with either coffee or chai, reminds many of pumpkins, leaves, and apple pies.

The staple of all fall drinks. Credit: L. Rooks.

From August through November, coffee shops are taken by storm. These drinks are available at shops around Ann Arbor including Starbucks, Sweetwaters, Biggby, Dozer, Zingermans Coffee Company, Vertex Coffee Roasters, Stray Hen Cafe, Black Diesel Coffee, and more. Intrigued by these festive drinks, I decided to go out and review a few of them.

Starbucks has perfected the famous autumn drink’s ultimate sweet and welcoming flavor. It is sweeter than most pumpkin spice lattes but enhances all spices. The smell of the latte is a precursor to how spiced the drink will be, and the six-dollar drink adds a cinnamon smell that transcends the cup. However, the cinnamon isn’t overpowering and there is no sour aftertaste. The body of the drink itself is relatively light and not at all disappointing. 10/10

Starbucks’ Copycat? Credit: L. Rooks.

Stray Hen Cafe in downtown Ann Arbor is an aesthetic breakfast and lunch spot with a warm feeling immediately. Their “Pumpkin Crema cold brew” reminded me of the traditional Starbucks pumpkin cream cold brew, but somehow, Stray Hen does it better. The cold brew coffee is less sweet, but the pumpkin cold foam, a lightly frothed milk topping, added a much-needed sweet sip to combat the untouched cold brew. It has less of a spice and cinnamon aftertaste and isn’t overpowering at all. I will be returning for another one soon. 10/10

Sweetwaters in the Westgate AADL library goes heavy on the cinnamon, but I’m not mad about it. The drink smells like autumn air in a cup! There is a stronger cinnamon aftertaste, but the body of the drink was light and thin. The coffee is strong, so if you need a morning pick-me-up, Sweetwaters is the place to go. The fall themes on their menu also sparked some excitement to try their pumpkin spice, and the overall fall energy in the store was on point. 8/10

Biggby’s latte is also super good. This coffee has a stronger cinnamon flavor than Starbucks’ top seasonal seller. The taste of pumpkin spice itself was practically the same and just as sweet, but it did have a stronger spice aftertaste that wasn’t as pleasant. It smelled like cinnamon and the whipped cream topping made the whole thing worth my six dollars. The presentation of the drink was cute and was not too heavy. 7/10

Dozer has a disappointing take on this latte as they topped it with lots of cinnamon, which is normally delightful. However, the coffee shop added too much, making the drink bitter. The latte itself doesn’t have a strong pumpkin flavor and is not sweet at all. It doesn’t smell like a pumpkin spice latte and the body of the drink is heavy. The store doesn’t promote its pumpkin spice as much as the others, but that could also be because Dozer is a local business. I wouldn’t get this drink again. 4/10

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Lexie Rooks
Lexie Rooks, Writer

Lexie Rooks ('24) is a writer for the Skyline Post. In her free time, you can find her hanging out with friends, getting coffee, or reading a book.

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