Shifting and falling leaves. A chill in the air. The reappearance of last year’s flannel shirts and hoodies. All of this can only mean one thing: It’s time for Pumpkin Spice!
This year, I’ve searched high and low to bring you Long Island’s most distinctive and innovative twists on the PSL. No need to thank me (it’s my job), but do go out and try these because they’re all really good.
1. North Fork Roasting Company
This season, North Fork Roasting Company is once again reinventing chai (this past winter they offered chestnut chai—which was amazing). For autumn, they’re bringing back the seasonal Dirty Pumpkin, which is organic pumpkin purée in simple syrup form made with their popular chai latte—a simmered mixture of loose-leaf Serendipi-tea chai tea, warm spices like cinnamon sticks and nutmeg, and a bit of nature with pure honey and maple syrup. This latte is topped off a shot of espresso and foamy milk, which is what makes this pumpkin chai “dirty.” If espresso is not your thing, you can still order a delicious straight up pumpkin chai with steamed milk. It’s the perfect start or ending to a day of picking pumpkins.
2. Tend Coffee
Shirley & Holbrook (Sachem Library)
Tend’s PSL falls on my list because they make their own in-house syrup resulting in a multi-layered flavor experience—or, in other words, it’s like taking everything delightful about autumn and putting it in a cup. Using a combination of fall spices (cinnamon, ginger and clove), they add fresh brewed and perfectly roasted espresso and steamed milk resulting in truly flavorful PSL. Of course it doesn’t stop there, because this PSL is topped off with whipped cream for richness, caramel for toasty notes, and a sprinkle of nutmeg. It’s the perfect way to start off your morning, especially if you’re off to a day full of corn mazes and apple picking.
3. Roast Coffee & Tea Trading Company
According to Wendy Closson, general manager of Roast Coffee and Tea Company, she and her team have always had a very simple mission: Make special seasonal drinks with real ingredients. The PSL was one of the first seasonal beverages they tackled. It’s made with real pumpkin and Closson explains the secret: “We keep it warm in a crock pot so the latte is hot—heated milk alone isn’t able to bring it up to the proper temperature.” The “spice” ingredients are typical pumpkin spices—nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice. Don’t think just because they’ve improved this PSL that they are done reinventing it. This year they’ve added new depths of flavor with the addition of a bit of ginger tea and brown sugar to the pumpkin base, resulting in an extra zing of sweetness.
4. Soul Brew
I’ve been told that Soul Brew loves all things fall, including the GREAT pumpkin! While the team of baristas at Soul Brew are happy to serve you up the classic PSL, they also take great pride in offering a variety of “soulful” twists on this fall classic. They constantly work together to create interesting and funky flavors and this season is no exception. New to the menu this season is the Dark Chocolate PSL and, if for some reason dark chocolate isn’t your thing, they are also offering the White Chocolate Pumpkin Pie Latte (a mouthful to say and a delight to drink). Soul Brew doesn’t want to leave its tea drinkers out of the pumpkin craze, so they’ve been kind enough to also create an autumnal hand-crafted Pumpkin Chai Latte. Soul Brew makes my list because they’re not only innovative and fun, but they never use pre-made mixes and always brew/steep local goodness.
5. Golden Sparrow Market
The Golden Sparrow is offering two pumpkin spice-inspired beverages this autumn. The first is a cleaner take on the traditional PSL, featuring an organic real-ingredient pumpkin latte with your choice of vegan milk. (I personally recommend the cashew milk with its rich, creamy body for this latte.)
Their other creation is a pumpkin spice-inspired smoothie that takes the love of pumpkin to a whole new level. This smoothie embraces the same ingredients of organic pumpkin puree, a seasonally inspired and in-house spice blend that is found in the PSL, but includes a new addition to the Golden Sparrow’s menu—oat milk! For those of you not familiar with oat milk, it offers sweet, grainy notes and is more textured than regular milk, lower in fat and also vegan—making it perfect for smoothies (and a really cool canvas if you’re into making latte art).