Year after year, coffee lovers all over the world await the return of Starbucks’s fall drinks, pumpkin spice and caramel apple bevs alike. In 2020, Starbucks released its fall drinks earlier than ever before, along with a limited-time hotline that you could call to hear soothing autumnal sounds, like a crackling fire or a hayride. (Times were dire then, people.) Today, they followed suit as both old favorites and a new autumn sipper made their way onto the menu for the season. In place of the autumn hotline, Starbucks also launched an online Pumpkin Love O'Meter personality quiz that uses eight questions to measure how pumpkin-obsessed you are. (We like the PSL and all, but if we were proposed to with a pumpkin cream cold brew, we'd be single—sorry not sorry.) To celebrate, here are our thoughts on eight of our favorite Starbucks fall drinks to date.
1. Apple Crisp Macchiato
There's a new espresso drink on the block this fall, and it tastes like Thanksgiving dessert, crunchy leaves, cozy sweaters and warm apple cider combined (obviously our description, not theirs). Available hot or iced, the apple crisp macchiato starts with brown sugar apple syrup (it tastes like apple pie filling). The syrup is topped with milk and espresso shots, then the drink is finished with caramelized spiced apple drizzle made from apple juice, apple puree, cinnamon and nutmeg. It gives the sipper a comforting, warm-spiced aroma that screams autumn.
2. Pumpkin Spice Latte
The PSL is that b**** for a reason. The warm-spiced pumpkin syrup made with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves is the secret to its fame, and over the years it’s become Starbucks’s most popular seasonal sipper of all time. The syrup is combined with steamed milk and fresh espresso for a hot latte, though you can also order an iced pumpkin spice latte. Either way, we’d be remiss not to suggest springing for whipped cream and a dusting of pumpkin pie spice on top.
3. Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew
If lattes have too much milk to make the cut for your morning joe, opt for this cold brew-based bev instead. The coffee is sweetened with vanilla syrup (although you could ask the barista to use pumpkin spice syrup instead) and topped with a pumpkin-infused cream cold foam before being sprinkled with pumpkin spice topping.
4. Caramel Apple Spice
We like to think of this fall bev as a bit of a hidden gem, as many Starbucks loyalists don’t even know it exists. Despite the drink being on the menu year-round, it’s pretty darn autumnal if you ask us. (Think of it as an extra sweet cheater’s mulled cider.) Soothe your soul one sip at a time with Cinnamon Dolce syrup-spiked steamed apple juice. As if that wasn’t drool-worthy enough, the drink also gets a generous drizzle of caramel sauce and a crown of whipped cream.
5. Chai Tea Latte
Another permanent menu item that shines just a bit brighter in the fall. Served hot, iced or even blended (yup, the Chai Crème Frappuccino is a thing), the chai tea latte starts with black tea infused with cinnamon, clove and a whole slew of warm spices. Its intensity is curbed by the addition of steamed milk. Feel free to make it a bit sweeter with a few pumps of vanilla syrup. You can also ask the barista to substitute apple juice for standard water to up the fall ante—the juice’s sweetness will pair beautifully with chai’s bounty of spices.
6. Salted Caramel Mocha Latte—No Longer Available
Friends: You might want to sit down for this. This iconic fall drink is no more (at least this year—we'll cross our fingers for its 2022 return starting now). We can't imagine why Starbucks gave it the axe: The salted caramel mocha is basically liquid dessert, since it calls for both mocha sauce and toffee nut syrup to achieve its signature flavor. While espresso offered some bitterness and steamed milk thinned out the sugary base, we'd always reserve this seasonal pick for when we were really craving a treat instead of coffee first thing in the morning (you know, to avoid chasing our breakfast buzz with an inevitable sugar crash). We also loved the salted caramel hot chocolate with whipped cream and caramel drizzle, which was just like the mocha minus the espresso.
7. Salted Caramel Mocha Frappuccino—No Longer Available
Yup—this beauty's gone, too. How is it that we crave the Frappuccino's icy embrace even in the dead of winter? One thing’s for sure: We dreamt about this blended rendition of our favorite fall mocha all year round, only to have to say goodbye. It's got all the same ingredients as the latte, save for the Frappuccino blend coffee in place of espresso and the addition of Frappuccino base, which gives the drink its silky consistency. With whipped cream, caramel sauce and a flourish of turbinado sugar and sea salt on top, it was ready to demolish. In its absence, ask for a Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino or a coffee-free Pumpkin Crème Frappuccino instead.
8. Maple Pecan Latte—No Longer Available
This drink hit Starbucks’s menu in 2017 alongside the Maple Macchiato. It’s loaded with notes of maple syrup, nutty brown butter and pecans. The best part is the crunchy sugar topping sprinkled over the foam. Its fall 2021 launch in the U.S. is still up in the air (it’s super popular in Canada), but you can safely assume that our fingers and toes are crossed for its return.