The pumpkin spice latte: love it or hate it, one thing is for sure — everyone has heard of it. With fall around the corner, it feels like each Starbucks-lover has an opinion on the flavor.
The pumpkin spice craze started in 2003, with Starbucks pioneering the flavor. Originally launching in Vancouver, British Columbia and Washington D.C., the latte quickly migrated to Starbucks locations worldwide.
Affectionately nicknamed the PSL, the pumpkin spice latte has been one of the most widely anticipated coffee specialties since its release. In a CNBC study conducted in 2019, it was estimated that Starbucks alone sold over 424 million cups of the flavor in just 365 days.
While Starbucks may have introduced the fall favorite, its popularity has not stopped there. Individually owned coffee shops worldwide have integrated the flavor into their own menus, and Auburn’s local spots are no exception.
Although many local cafes highlight the flavor seasonally, the pumpkin-flavored drinks at Coffee Mafia are offered year-round.
Aaron Spraggins, a Coffee Mafia barista, explained the shop began featuring the “delicious” seasonal favorite year-round in an effort to keep up with demand.
When asked about the pumpkin spice craze that seems to grip the coffee industry every fall, Spraggins said the company recognized the exclusivity of the product and wanted to broaden customers' opportunities to enjoy the flavor for more than just a few months out of the year.
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Another Auburn institution, Coffee Cat, has stuck to a more traditional approach regarding the pumpkin spice latte. Coffee Cat plans to offer the flavor starting in October, with an emphasis on sustainability and sourcing locally.
“When choosing our products we choose local and organic,” said Jonathan Arrington, a barista at Coffee Cat.
He said anytime the company chooses to carry syrups, they are either “made in-house or locally supported.” Arrington said he believes that the pumpkin spice latte hype stems from feelings of comfort associated with the drink.
“It’s a reminder of good weather and good times,” he said. “That’s when football season starts and the community comes together — it’s exciting.”
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