It’s no secret that Autumn brings with it a bunch of delicious flavors to keep you toasty and calm during those chilly nights once the summer sun begins to set.
And we all know too well which one takes the cake every year: Pumpkin spice anyone?
The Pumpkin Spice Latte, launched by Starbucks back in 2003, has been all the rage every Fall during the last decade. Coffee shops far and wide bring back the tasty concoction far ahead of the first day of Autumn due to customer demand.
And while this foamy, fragrant drink is undeniably tasty, I can’t help but think about all the potential alternatives that deserve the spotlight too. There’s gotta be more to Fall than pumpkin spice, and I took it upon myself to explore what else is out there.
Local Shops Weigh In
As part of my futile quest to find pumpkin spice’s potential successor, I hit up a few PVD coffee shops for some leads. While some dare to test the waters with new creations, others are kicking up the coveted pumpkin flavor in new ways.
Brew Grindz calls the shots
Brew Grindz in North Providence is serving up hot lattes with pumpkin cheesecake, pistachio, or cookie dough shots, which patrons are not complaining about. Katelyn, a Barista at the cozy shop on Mineral Spring Avenue, said it’s all about becoming a mixologist to start someone’s morning right. “There’s so much more than [pumpkin] spice,” she said. “We just like to mix flavors to create those alternatives for the Fall.”
The Nitro Cart’s Rival Drink
While pumpkin spice is the contender for lattes at The Nitro Cart in Providence, it has a rival best-seller. “I would say the Maple Sea Salt Latte is pretty comparable to the Pumpkin Spice Latte,” said Jake, Barista at The Nitro Cart. “People buy it as much as they do pumpkin spice and seem to really like it.”
Keepin’ it Spicy at Latte Love
Pumpkin spice remains the go-to at Latte Love in Johnston as well, with customers requesting it in early August, but there are other flavors working their way up the ranks. Alternate flavor requests include honey cinnamon and brown sugar as well as maple, per Barista Sarah.
For those with an aversion to pumpkin, simple spiced chai is the best bet. “Spiced chai is also very popular with customers, mainly selling from September to January,” said Oliver, another Barista at Latte Love. Oliver has also gotten word about other cafes experimenting with squash flavor. Hmm, not too sure about that one.
White Electric Cookin’ Up Maple/Apple, Caramel Delights
When it comes to innovation, White Electric in Providence takes the gold. They currently have a brand-new maple/apple flavor in the works, which has gotten the green light from the shop’s staff after initial taste testing.
Although not a latte per se, the drink includes apple butter, maple syrup, apple cider,
cinnamon, and your choice of milk for a creamy texture. “It’s a sweet, creamy, apply-y beverage that I think rivals a hot apple cider or even a hot cocoa in the winter,” said James, Barista at White Electric.
The eclectic shop on Westminster Street may also introduce a Salted Caramel Praline Latte with salted caramel, hazelnut and brown sugar, which will become official once vetted by staff. “If enough people like it and are enthused about it, we’ll put it on our specials menu,” he said.
In the meantime, White Electric currently offers “The Cereal Killa” on their specials menu, which Barista Chloe considers a good latte alternative. It’s made with Oat Milk along with house-made lavender and hibiscus herbal syrups that are “good for the soul.”
They have yet to decide if they are bringing back their house-made pumpkin spice syrup for their Fall line-up, which will probably start by the Autumn Equinox on September 22. “I think it’s very likely it will make an appearance here again since I hear it was very popular last year,” said James.
Word on the street
I was surprised (and maybe a tad pleased) to find that most of the people I spoke with on the streets of PVD are NOT Pumpkin Spice enthusiasts (it was pure coincidence, I promise) and had other go-to’s they turn to for the season ahead.
Natasha from Providence would take a cappuccino or matcha latte any day over pumpkin spice. Lucas from Somerville, Massachusetts is all about the Americano, as is Stan from Smithfield, who also goes for the classic cup of Joe served black, which best captures a coffee’s natural flavor.
So, there you have it – there IS more out there than pumpkin spice. Mission accomplished.