The Vanguard Tries: Local Pumpkin Spice Lattes

By: Amelia Rose Zimlich | Managing Editor | arz1722@jagmail.southalabama.edu

Photos By: Hallie Zimlich

The time has come; it’s pumpkin spice season. While PSLs have been on most chain coffee menus for a month already, many local places are just now releasing their fall menus. In honor of this momentous occasion, I tried seven pumpkin spice lattes from local coffee shops.

Moka’s PSL

The first stop was Moka’s Coffee House in Saraland. Their pumpkin spice latte had a good balance of coffee and spice, which was evident but not overwhelming. It was sweet in a subtle, natural way, and the pumpkin came in at the end. My only complaint is that my latte could have been hotter. But overall, it made me want to curl up with a thick blanket and a warm fire. I call that a success. And when I was enjoying my coffee, a Taylor Swift song came on, which elevated the experience. Then two more Taylor Swift songs came on after that, and suddenly, I was in heaven.

Nova Espresso PSL

Next up, I went to Nova Espresso. They have two pumpkin drinks on their menu in place of a typical PSL. One is the Drunkin’ Punkin’, which had bourbon maple syrup and pumpkin pie spice. The taste was warm and caramel-y with a vanilla and bourbon edge. Their Dirty Pumpkin Chai was a lot spicier with a pumpkin aftertaste. This drink was much sweeter right at the end, and both drinks had a lot of spices that had sunk to the bottom, which wasn’t my favorite. But since they were the prettiest drinks of the entire trip, it makes up for it.

Serda’s PSL

Serda’s Coffee Company was next, and it was underwhelming. The drink was made extra hot, which I liked, but the taste left a lot to be desired, namely the pumpkin spice. The coffee was overly strong and bitter. I couldn’t tell if I tasted any spice in the bitterness of the coffee and the pumpkin just wasn’t there.

Soul Caffeine PSL

The pumpkin spice latte at Soul Caffeine was incredible! It was spicy, flavorful and sweet: everything a PSL should be. The temperature was perfect, and I could taste the pumpkin right away, not just at the end like other drinks. The whipped cream on the top was a nice touch. The sweetness became a little too much for me at the end. But I usually like unflavored drinks, and there was no artificial edge that some sweet drinks have, so I didn’t mind. If you want a no-holds-barred, truly indulgent PSL, this is the absolute best place to go!

Coffee Monster PSL

Next on the list was Coffee Monster. Their PSL sweetness level was right on point: less sweet than Soul Caffeine and sweeter than Moka’s. The spice was less potent than some of the other lattes, which made the pumpkin more noticeable. I appreciated being able to taste a prominent pumpkin flavor in this drink. It also had whipped cream, which added a bit of extra sweetness. 

Carpe Diem PSL

Next was Carpe Diem, and I will say that this was the most disappointing pumpkin spice latte that I tried. The latte was so weak that I couldn’t detect any flavor at all. No coffee, no pumpkin, no spice. It was just frothy, warm, tasteless liquid. I didn’t know that it was possible to make a flavorless PSL, but I guess you learn something new every day.

I waited a while at Satori Coffee House before I finally ordered. After I ordered a pumpkin spice latte, I was informed a few minutes later that they didn’t have…pumpkin spice lattes. So, the order was canceled. I cut my losses and went on my way.

Yellowhammer PSL

Last but not least was Yellowhammer Coffee. Their PSL was really good! I expected the drink to be sweeter since Yellowhammer’s flavored lattes are typically pretty sweet, but I really enjoyed the flavor. The spice didn’t overwhelm the pumpkin and vice versa. At this point, I picked up on a trend in the drinks I especially liked and added some whipped cream to my latte. It was wonderful.

A perk of local coffee shops is that each latte I tried had a unique flavor that stood out from the rest. So, if you like your pumpkin spice latte on the sweeter side or with a little extra spice, Mobile’s coffee shops have something for everyone.