Local pumpkin spice latte outdoes chain stores

Tiffany Domingo, Reporter

It’s that time of the season: fall. Or what others like to call it– Pumpkin Spice Latte Season! I am an avid coffee drinker, but I’ve only tried my first ever PSL a few days ago.  Not just one, but four PSLs from four different locations. Surprisingly the best one wasn’t from a chain, but a small coffee shop in downtown Omaha.


Starbucks Coffee

Of course I went to Starbucks. It would be a crime not to.  Starbucks was actually the place where I tried my very first Pumpkin Spice Latte. It was hard for me not to get my usual–an Iced venti Caramel Macchiato. Instead, I went basic and ordered a tall Pumpkin Spice Latte. When the friendly barista called my name, I took my first sip. I was instantly hit with fall. It was smooth and sweet; silky and spicy; pure pumpkin spice with a slight punch of espresso; topped with whipped cream and extra pumpkin spices.  


When I drove past McDonald’s on my way to school, I couldn’t help but notice the big sign– Pumpkin Spice is here! I was taken aback for a second. Mickey D’s sells Pumpkin Spice? Although I’m really not a fan of America’s beloved fast food place (aside from their ice cream sundaes and McFlurry’s), they really rock those iced coffees. So I guess I had a few dollars to spare. I went through the drive-thru and ordered their Pumpkin Spice. The person working had a very lazy tone that I could barely understand. But it’s McDonald’s so I shouldn’t expect anything great. When I pulled up to the window, this guy with shaggy hair clumsily handed me my drink. Right off the bat I noticed that McDonald’s didn’t top their PSLs with whipped cream and cinnamon powder. Mickey D’s PSLs are much sweeter than Starbucks. I could taste all the spices and flavors in the drink. It actually wasn’t that bad.


Now I work at Scooter’s, so I know how it is with all the seasonal drinks. I say about one in four customers orders some type of pumpkin drink when it’s in-season. Since I’ve been trying out all the PSLs in the metro area, I figured I should try the place that I work in. So when a customer ordered a small PSL, I made another one for myself. I made it like how we’re supposed to– two pumps of Pumpkin Spice, a shot of espresso, steamed milk, and with whipped cream and cinnamon powder on top. Unsurprisingly, it tasted exactly like Starbucks. It was smooth and sweet; silky and spicy; pure pumpkin spice, a slight punch of espresso; topped with whipped cream and extra spices. I mean the only thing that was really different was that I didn’t have to pay for it.

13th Street Coffee & Tea

I figured that I should try PSLs outside of chain coffee shops, so I drove all the way downtown just to try one. First of all, 13th Street Coffee & Tea’s aesthetic felt welcoming and homey. It’s one of those coffee shops that you always see in movies. They have several pictures framed up on the walls, a cart filled with books. They even have an upper level that’s perfect for a hangout place or doing homework. It all felt very homey and welcoming. Already, I was loving the place. The baristas were friendly and actually started interactive conversations after I placed my order. Despite of being quite busy on a Sunday afternoon, they were quite fast with making the drinks. I tried my first sip, and I was not disappointed. It had a very autumn feeling, and it was nicely roasted. The flavor is similar to Starbucks and Scooter’s, but there is just something else that’s added in there that I can’t put my finger on. Whatever it is, it’s uniquely good.


The verdict? 13th Street Coffee & Tea won the best PSL out of the four. But can I be honest? I don’t really see the hype in the pumpkin drinks. It’s good, but not to the extent people make it out to be.


But I guess I might be a bit biased because I’m not really a fan of pumpkin anything.