Thursday, November 10, 2011

Seasonal Treats: The Pumpkin Spice Latte

By Kristen Seabolt

With so many saddening stories in the media this week, from the tragic death of legendary boxer Joe Frazier, to the abduction of baseball player Wilson Ramos, to the horrifying scandal at Penn State, I wanted to take my blog this week in a lighter direction…the direction of fall and Pumpkin Spice Lattes.

Every fall, millions around the country (and maybe even the world) anticipate the return of the seasonal Pumpkin Spice Latte to their nearest coffee shop. In recent years especially, the Pumpkin Spice Latte has risen to fame among coffee and latte drinkers across the map. Starbucks for example has seen a dramatic increase of 44 percent in sales of the Pumpkin Spice Latte this year alone, according to CEO Howard Schultz. Speaking personally, I have not had a normal coffee since the Pumpkin Spice Latte returned…I even have Pumpkins Spice coffee creamer (courteously of International Delight).

Pumpkin Spice Lattes are not only a delicious warm beverage, but are also synonymous with the end of summer and the start of the holiday season. When you drink a Pumpkins Spice Latte, you think of fall, pumpkin pie, football, Thanksgiving, leaves changing, holiday music and other sweet treats.

For years, Starbucks has seen so much success and anticipation of their Pumpkin Spice Latte, that other companies felt the urgency to begin concocting their own versions of this seasonal sensation. With that being said, I thought it only necessary to provide you with my consumer feedback of Pumpkin Spice Lattes from Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and Panera Bread.

  • Pros – Quality coffee, Well known brand that specializes in coffee, Not too sweet but great pumpkin flavor, Option of whipped cream, Several options of milk (whole, skim, soy), Option for iced, Recyclable cups, Cozy atmosphere, Drive Thru’s at some!
  • Cons – Price (roughly $4.00 for a grande/large), Cup sizes (16 oz. in a grande/large), Strong coffee, Long lines in the morning/lunch time
Dunkin’ Donuts 
  • Pros – Less expensive (roughly $2.00 for a large), Not too sweet but can still taste the pumpkin, Good cup sizes (20 oz. in a large), Quick service, Drive Thru’s at some!
  • Cons – No whip cream option, Styrofoam cup (non recyclable), In-and-out rushed atmosphere, Known for donuts & munchkins more so than their coffee
Panera Bread 
  • Pros – Option for whipped cream, Nice atmosphere 
  • Cons – Too sweet and masks the pumpkin taste, Not as well known for their coffee (known for their bagels), Semi expensive (roughly $3.50 for a large), Cup size (16 oz. in a large), Only 10% recyclable 
My vote: To be honest, I am torn between Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks. If I am in a rush and need a quick and inexpensive tasty Pumpkin Spice, my vote is for Dunkin’, but if I am looking for a cozy atmosphere and quality coffee, I vote for Starbucks. Good thing both are within a mile or two of the office. :)

So, enough about my obsession with Pumpkin Spice Lattes, what’s your favorite holiday beverage?

Kristen Seabolt is an Associate Account Executive at Maroon PR.  Contact her at

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