The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

95° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Real pumpkin doesn’t add enough spice to latte

The dreaded return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte is here, which means that it will now take at least half an hour to get some coffee at Starbucks. It also means that fall is almost here, since apparently “fall starts with three letters: PSL” according to every fall Starbucks advertisement ever.

Since the PLS’s return on Sept. 8, Starbucks has informed the public that a new version of the latte will now contain real pumpkin puree and no artificial caramel coloring, instead of the pumpkin-flavored sauce and fake caramel featured for the past 12 years. Of course, this is supposed to make consumers think that the drink is healthy and tastes better, but that is up for debate.

Psychology senior and shift leader at Starbucks in the UA Bookstore Sydnie Brown shared, “The shift in ingredients is meant to reflect a more natural and organic product, though this is just a stepping stone. I like Pumpkin Spice Lattes, but I can’t really tell the difference in taste from the real pumpkin.”

For those who don’t know, a Pumpkin Spice Latte is comprised of espresso, steamed milk, pumpkin and cinnamon, clove, ginger and nutmeg spices. The grande size contains 380 calories, 14 grams of fat and 50 grams of sugar.

It’s a great seasonal drink to try and have as a treat—but not to have religiously. Even though the drink is here for a limited time, it’s good to be reminded not to stock up on it before it’s gone. Pumpkin Spice Lattes are simply not worth the hype that consumers and Starbucks make them out to be.

Yahoo Health reveals a study that details what happens to the body after consuming a 16-ounce, grande PSL, assuming the drink is made with 2 percent milk and topped with whipped cream. Within 20 minutes of consumption, the pancreas starts secreting insulin to break down the sugar into glucose to be stored and used for energy. If the cells are already full of glucose, it gets rejected and the extra sugar can get stored as fat.

Ten minutes later, the liver starts working to absorb the glucose and create glycogen, while excess sugar is stored as fat again. The drink also prompts the body’s metabolism to slow, which increases the desire for food and empty calories. Lastly, and most well-known, the large amounts of caffeine and sugar may contribute to gastrointestinal discomfort.

Since the World Health Organization decreased the daily sugar intake recommendations from 10 percent of caloric intake to 5 percent, an adult with a normal body mass index should have 25 grams of sugar a day. Pumpkin Spice Lattes contain double that amount.

It’s peculiar as to why consumers, especially college students, are crazy over this drink. Perhaps it’s a signifier of class status and wealth. Think about it: students that do have the money and love the drink will continue to buy it regularly, and when their name, or something close to it, gets called by the servers, the immediate first impression we have of that person can be distasteful if we hate the drink.

“The drink is holiday festive, which may contribute to how popular it is, considering that it is a limited-edition drink. The season gets progressively colder, so people are also comforted by the drink’s warm and inviting flavors,” Brown said.

After trying one of these drinks, it’s clear why its name is Pumpkin Spice: other than the taste of espresso and milk, the taste of spice is most prominent. Not even the taste of pumpkin can be detected, just the spice of clove, cinnamon and nutmeg. What Starbucks fails to mention is how much pumpkin is used in the drinks, since it isn’t immediately tasted. The scent of pumpkin, however, is definitely present.

Perhaps it is the mixture of all these things that gives the drink a pumpkin flavor, but no mixture of spice can clarify why people like it so much.

Follow Justice Amarillas on Twitter.

More to Discover
Activate Search