The return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte

The sweaters are coming out of hibernation. T-shirts and shorts are being replaced with sweatshirts and jeans. Daylight hours are dwindling. The trees are starting to turn red and orange everywhere on campus. You guessed it — fall is finally here.

Though Sept. 23 marked the official beginning of autumn, Starbucks enthusiasts have been in fall mode since Aug. 24. While warm-colored foliage and cooler weather are usually the telltale signs, the annual release of the PSL is the true indicator that the seasons have begun to change.

Reading this, some of you may be wondering, “What even is the PSL?” For the unacquainted individual, PSL is the acronym for “Pumpkin Spice Latte.” One of the first fall beverages released from Starbucks, the PSL has a rich history that stems from a man with a big dream.

Peter Dukes, then the director of espresso in the Americas for Starbucks, has been dubbed the father of the PSL for being the product manager who spearheaded this drink’s invention two decades ago. In the spring of 2003, a team gathered in the “Liquid Lab” (the 7th floor of Starbucks headquarters that was akin to a cross between a kitchen and a lab). This group assembled fall decorations and embarked on a mission to sample pumpkin pies with espressos. Three months after this gathering, a prototype of the PSL was created and tested in 100 stores in Vancouver and Washington, D.C. The following fall, the PSL officially debuted in the U.S. and an unforgettable legend was born. Now, the PSL is available in nearly 50 countries.

Although 2023 marks the 20th anniversary of the PSL, the frenzy over this Starbucks seasonal drink is as hot as ever. According to the data company Placer.ai, traffic directed to Starbucks has increased 25.1 percent compared to the PSL’s launch day in 2017. Starbucks even boasts over 3,000 tweets per day about its #PSL enthusiasm. And looking at its ingredients, there is no wonder why this drink is so popular.

Starbucks mixes its signature espresso with steamed milk and adds the combined flavors of nutmeg, clove, pumpkin, and cinnamon. Topped with whipped cream and pumpkin pie spices, the PSL has an aroma and essence that are undeniably reminiscent of fall.

But the fall fun does not stop there: After all, why just end with the PSL? The 2023 Starbucks fall foods and drinks feature two new seasonal beverages: the Iced Apple Crisp Oatmilk Shaken Espresso and the Iced Pumpkin Cream Chai Tea Latte. Returning favorites include the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew, the Apple Crisp Oatmilk Macchiato, the Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin, and the Owl Cake Pop.

The fall menu is available only for a limited time, so beware of the approaching deadline and get your drinks or bakery items while supplies last. For your convenience, the closest Starbucks to Carnegie Mellon is the location on 425 S Craig St., which is roughly an eight minute walk from campus.

Happy fall, y’all!