Long before the joy of Pumpkin Spice Lattes (PSL), Jane Austen, described fall as “that season of peculiar and inexhaustible influence on the mind of taste and tenderness—that season which has drawn from every poet worthy of being read some attempt at description, or some lines of feeling.” I’m totally with Jane.
Fall is my favorite season for so many reasons. Sure, my husband loves fall mostly because it means football, but for me autumn is so much more. It’s invigorating; the only time of year in the Northeast when it’s not too hot or cold and the outdoorsy version of “me” awakens. It’s as though fall never really sits still and that feeling of motion is contagious. What other season fully engages all of your senses more than autumn? The sound of acorns crunching beneath your boots, the smell of the earth, the crimson and golden hues of falling leaves, the chilly morning air in your lungs . . . and the taste of fall flavored teas and coffee! (Okay, yes, and football.)
According to a Taoist proverb, “Autumn is the season of change,” so let’s mix up our PSL routine and explore some other sensual fall flavors.
Here’s a list of my top picks for the best local PSL alternatives:
Roast Coffee & Tea Trading Company, Patchogue
Affectionately known as Roast to locals, on any given day, it’s difficult to choose just one beverage from their extensive menu, but this Fall, the choices are even tougher. I stand in front of the blackboard menu – my eyes up, mouth gaping and a finger indecisively tapping on my chin, trying to choose just—one. This season’s menu includes a choice of three lattes: Caramel Pecan Breve, Pumpkin Pie, Maple Mocha—all of which contain real ingredients, and one very unusual tea: The Chai of the Tiger. My strategy, since you ask? I order two beverages.
Maple Mocha Latte: Grab your flannel shirt and order this smooth, sweet latte. Brewed from in-house medium-roasted coffee beans and paired with McLure’s of New England, 100% pure maple syrup and a layer of mocha, this beverage is Autumn in a cup. It’s the perfect start or end to a day of picking apples or hauling pumpkins.
Chai of the Tiger Latte (Limited Time): This unique tea is a spin-off of the Chai of the Tiger beer that neighbor and collaborators at The BrickHouse Brewery imagined up last Fall. Chai for the beer was supplied by none other than Roast, so when the idea of making a tea version of this beverage was born, BrickHouse was all too eager to return the favor and send some barley east down Main Street.
The Masala chai has a rich warm flavor, consisting of normal chai spices such as black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, clove and ginger—but here’s where it gets innovative, Caramalt barley—yup the grain used to brew beer, and vanilla. Don’t worry, the tea is non-alcoholic. I wasn’t sure what to expect from a barley steeped tea (would it taste like… beer), but was pleasantly surprised by the body and sweet caramel notes. With the addition of the vanilla the overall effect is mellow and perfect for those who want to avoid overly sweet lattes.
Tend Coffee House, Shirley
Tend is a recent discovery for me and a coffee house I want to share with you. It’s a perfect stop off Route 27 on drive out to the East to your fall festivities or haunted houses.
Tend’s Chai Latte: Tend’s Chai Latte is a house-made infusion of Kindleaf Chai and wild flower honey. That’s right, the hearty black tea leaves are brewed with a spicy blend of cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, allspice, cloves, and black pepper, and worth reiterating – it’s made in-house! It can be ordered with unsweetened almond milk or soy, hot or iced.
The Linzer Latte: The Linzer Latte at Tend is a cookie-inspired espresso beverage consisting of natural raspberry syrup, organic espresso, and vanilla bean. They also have a rainbow cookie version (the main difference is mocha instead of vanilla). The other thing about fall that I forgot to mention is that it reminds me of childhood and these drinks are like putting your favorite childhood cookies in a cup and adding caffeine! It’s the perfect beverage when frolicking in the leaves (just —maybe put your beverage down first so you don’t burn yourself).
Crazy Beans, Stony Brook and Miller Place
If you’re planning to take the little ones to the annual Halloween Festival and Scarecrow competition at Historic Stony Brook Village, be sure to stop in to Crazy Beans for a hot or cold latte.
Spiced Brown Sugar Latte: You read that right. While you’ll find weekly specials at Crazy Beans, there’s a few coffee staples that are guaranteed to rock your leaf-color-changing-world. This drink will deliver hints of caramel, brown sugar, and notes of cinnamon and if you order it iced, it’s served up in a mason jar! Basically, it’s like a warm hug on a chilly fall day and who doesn’t need a hug?
Toast Coffeehouse, Port Jefferson
You’re up early anyway, because it’s fall and maybe you’re swinging by a farm stand so you can buy your fresh local ingredients to make a harvest soup. You might as well stop off and get a decadent drink and some breakfast at Toast Coffeehouse.
Mallowmar Latte: This coffee-based drink is the kayak that gently floats you from summer into autumn. It’s comprised of chocolate ganache, marshmallow and graham crackers – with the faintest scent of smoky campfires to warm you on the impending fall evenings (okay, I made up that last part). It’s the perfect complement to the Downport Omelet — jumbo lump crabmeat, asparagus, crisp bacon, roasted red peppers and smoked gouda. Whether you’re catching up with friends and reminiscing over summer or looking forward to fall adventures with your significant other, this is the drink to discuss it over. You can also get the beverage to go and stroll around the Harborfront Park (remember my rule: order two drinks).