3. Panera Bread pumpkin spice latte
What's in it: Espresso, milk, pumpkin syrup, whipped cream, salted caramel drizzle
Yes, this is an unabashed sugar bomb, but the salted caramel drizzle is a nice change-up to the regular old pumpkin flavors you find everywhere else and gives the drink just a bit more depth to make it stand out in the pumpkin spice game. And yet it loses a few points for lack of balance -- the sugar overpowers the coffee a bit too much.
2. Peet's Coffee & Tea pumpkin latte
What's in it: Espresso, steamed milk, pumpkin syrup
The layer of foam on the top of this sucker was thick and left a foam mustache on my face that lingered for the next 6-7 hours. I wasn't upset. The pumpkin flavors hide in the background like it's photobombing the espresso, and they're so good you almost forget they're artificial.
1. Starbucks pumpkin spice latte
What's in it: Espresso, steamed milk, pumpkin syrup, whipped cream, pumpkin pie spices
Like a real housewife throwing a drink and calling someone a bitch, this is so predictable, right? I genuinely hoped to find a better pumpkin latte out there, but this is the grandaddy of them all for a reason. The complexity of flavors is what makes the Starbucks PSL the grand champion. The Green Lady goes the extra mile and it shows. It's not just the same combination of pumpkin syrup, espresso, and milk you find in almost every coffee chain -- it's the little bit of whipped cream topped with actual spices you might find in a pumpkin pie. Depending on the sip you take, you might get hints of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, or clove.
For 2015, the recipe changed for the first time in years, and they say the PSL is made with real pumpkin as part of their syrup. I can't tell the difference between this and what they served previously, but I can confirm it's still the cream of the pumpkin crop.
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Lee Breslouer is a senior writer for Thrillist, and is all pumpkin'd out. Follow him to salted caramel lattes at: @LeeBreslouer.