Happy first unofficial day of fall! Yes, I know, technically it’s still August, but the Starbucks overlords have decided that PUMPKIN SPICE SEASON IS HERE.
This year I have decided to fully unleash my inner basic bit*h self and go full on fall girl. Yep, you know the kind. The ones wearing leggings and boots sauntering to the pumpkin patch with their psls in hand. I mean it’s pretty much me. In fact, as I write this review, I am wearing capri leggings and a (affiliate link) tank that says “Don’t Be a Basic Witch.”
So I figured who better to bring you a comprehensive Starbucks pumpkin spice review than me, the self proclaimed Queen of All Things Basic, the Princess of Pumpkin?
Side note: my 4 year old actually believes that there is a legitimate princess named Princess Pumpkin Spice. I will not crush her dreams.
In the name of research and science, I sampled 6 of Starbucks’s pumpkin products along with two taste tasters, my less than enthusiastic pumpkin poo pooing husband, and my daughter. We tried:
- Starbucks Pumpkin Cold Brew
- Starbucks Iced Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte
- Starbucks Hot Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte
- Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin
- Starbucks Pumpkin Scones
- Starbucks Pumpkin Bread
And- I have thoughts. So many thoughts. There are some clear winners and losers in this bunch.
Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Review
Starbucks Pumpkin Cold Brew
New this year, Starbucks Pumpkin Cold Brew offers a solution for pumpkin lovers who aren’t ready to give up their iced coffees before the cooler fall days set in. According to Starbucks website, this drink is “sweetened with vanilla syrup, topped with a pumpkin cream cold foam and a dusting of pumpkin spice topping.”
The drink itself was bitter and not well mixed. I get that part of the drink’s appeal is the pretty way the drink is separated with the cold brew foam sitting on top of the drink like a beautiful cloud of pumpkiny dreams. BUT, I like my coffee light. I like it sweet. And I like my flavor to run throughout the coffee. This missed those marks for me.
Plus, I may be biased but I prefer my pumpkin products hot. My husband, who is much more of an iced coffee fan than me, agrees. It wasn’t his favorite cup of pumpkin and the warming spice got lost in the cold beverage and overpowered by the bitterness of the coffee.
Starbucks Iced Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte
Yes, I know, I just wrote about how I prefer warm pumpkin spice beverages over cold ones, but the barista made a mistake and made my chai cold.
For as bitter as I found the cold brew, the iced pumpkin spice chai latte was cloyingly and overpoweringly sweet. The pumpkin was too much. It was like drinking the blood of a unicorn, sickeningly sweet and pretty disgusting tbh.
Of the three of us, my 4 year old who snuck a sip when I was not looking and then proclaimed she loved it because it tasted like drinking dessert. Then she was mad when we took it away.
Rating: AND NO PUMPKINS FOR GRETCHEN WEINERS. BYE!
Starbucks Hot Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte
For as disgusting as as the iced pumpkin spice chai latte was, the hot pumpkin spice chai latte was not. It’s amazing what just changing the temperature on a beverage does. It took it from unicorn blood to tears of joy from the angels that provide us with pumpkin spice in the first place.
This drink is like drinking a hug in a cup. It’s warm. Cozy. Delicious. Fall pumpkin perfection and my go to, time and time again so much so that I have to make my own at home because I’d go broke buying them several times a day during pumpkin season from Starbucks. This is my taste of fall.
The only downside? It can be a little on the sweet side. Ask for half a pump of pumpkin spice if you want a little less sweet.
Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin
I’m a big fan of pumpkin muffins in general. In fact, I am working on my own pumpkin muffin recipe for this blog, and hope to perfect it this season. However, these pumpkin cream cheese muffins weren’t my jam.
The muffin itself was perfunctory but it lacked oomph. It didn’t have a powerful punch of pumpkin. It was more of a whisper. Plus, it wasn’t- dare I say- moist enough for me.
And therein lies the problem. I wanted a little more in your face pumpkin flavor. You don’t go to Starbucks and order every pumpkin item on their menu and in their bakery case at once and tell your barista just to write basic bitc* on your cup because you can’t handle yourself and the level of pumpkin you just ordered if you want something that’s not adequately pumpkiny.
Also, the cream cheese filling isn’t my favorite. It didn’t bring anything to the muffin except a weird spongy texture. Hard pass on the filling but the muffin itself was ok in a pumpkin craving pinch.
Rating: 🎃🎃1/2. It’d be a solid 🎃🎃🎃 if the cream cheese center was better.
Starbucks Pumpkin Scones
I was skeptical of the pumpkin scones. Scones for me are generally very hit or miss. Again, I’m a fan of baked goods that have a richer, more moist mouthfeel and a less crumbly texture. Scones are generally sort of dry and crumbly and, if done wrong, can be heavy feeling like a bad biscuit.
These scones however are my new obsession. They are little iced pillows of pumpkin spice heaven.
The scone itself had the perfect texture, like a thick, chewy sugar cookie. Not too crumbly. Just perfect little pockets of pumpkin spice with a royalish type icing on top.
My pumpkin hating husband was practically ready to skip through a pumpkin patch clad in plaid with one of these unironically clutched in his fist. My daughter is already trying to angle to go back to Starbucks tomorrow so we can all split another scone.
Starbucks Pumpkin Bread
The pumpkin bread equivalent of banana bread is another crapshoot for me. Sometimes banana bread nails it with a moist mouthfeel and tender crumb. Other times, banana bread leans dry and heavy. Pumpkin bread is much the same.
I like pumpkin bread that feels rich and has a similar texture to pound cake. Starbucks pumpkin bread had that on its interior. However, the exterior of the bread was overdone and dry, making for a crumbly, disappointing first taste. Had the exterior not been overdone, the mouthfeel would have been much better, making for a solid fruit bread experience.
However, note I said fruit bread, not pumpkin bread. This pumpkin bread did not pull pumpkiny at all. In fact, if anything, the bread tasted like soft gingerbread. Fine and dandy and close to pumpkin spice but not. Not bad, just not the full on basic fall experience you’d want out of pumpkin bread.
The Clear Winners
For me, the hot pumpkin spice chai latte and the pumpkin scones are the clear winners. The loser? Cold pumpkin spice chai latte, I’m looking at you traitor.
I know there are other pumpkin items at Starbucks to sample and compare. I’ll add to this post as I try them all and update with my picks. For now, let me know what your favorite pumpkin item at Starbucks is. Did I miss any you want me to review?