The best Pumpkin Spice Latte in town?

Some are under the impression that the beginning of autumn can be determined by the changing of leaves and brisk drop in temperature. Others determine its beginning based off of the official equinox, Sept. 22. However, the true signal for the beginning of fall comes in the temporal good of the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL).

While some may scoff at this “basic” drink, you cannot deny its cultural impact. However, while Starbucks does hold itself as the originator of this drink, many other coffee shops have taken a stab at this autumnal favorite. Below is a rating of the PSLs from coffee shops in the Hampton Roads area.

To measure the drink, I will have three basic categories: coffee flavor, pumpkin flavor, and overall enjoyment. The two flavor categories measure the potency of each – with a Pumpkin Spice Latte, the two things you expect to taste are coffee and pumpkin spice. These are not measuring the enjoyment of the flavor, but how much you can taste it. The overall enjoyment simply measures how those two balance together.


The review must start with the original. This classic drink is what all other PSLs are compared to. The Starbucks PSL is strongly flavored with pumpkin, embracing its identity fully. It is a very sweet drink, with only a slight hint of coffee flavoring. This drink is perfect if you are not a huge coffee person but love something warm and comforting. However, if you prefer the taste of coffee in your lattes, we recommend adding an extra shot and halving the pumps of flavoring.

Coffee Flavor: ☕☕
Pumpkin Flavor: 🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃
Overall Enjoyment: 3/5 – Mainly for classic goodness.

Cure Coffeehouse (Norfolk, VA)

Cure is a favorite among Regent students, and you can typically spot two or three sitting in the shop at any given time. As part of their fall menu, they too have a pumpkin spice latte. Like many of their lattes, the pumpkin spice has a strong coffee flavor, with a light pumpkin taste. This drink is good for a coffee lover who wants an essence of autumn in their latte.

Coffee Flavor: ☕☕☕☕☕
Pumpkin Flavor: 🎃🎃
Overall Enjoyment: 3/5 – It tastes more like a regular latte with a hint of pumpkin, rather than embracing its identity as a PSL.  


While not a coffee shop, Wawa is known for having delicious, inexpensive coffee. They have a pumpkin spice brew which you can add creamers to. I tried the pumpkin spice with a bit of Irish cream and French vanilla creamer to mimic a latte. Overall, I was disappointed. The drink tasted more like a craft store pine cone (the kind your great aunt keeps on her coffee table that congests the air with large quantities of cinnamon).

Coffee Flavor: ☕☕☕
Pumpkin Flavor: 🎃🎃🎃🎃🎃
Overall Enjoyment: 1/5 – While Wawa is typically a go-to for a quick, cheap, and delicious brew, their pumpkin spice disappointed. If you have a hankering for a PSL, skip this more affordable option and get yourself something less reminiscent of potpourri.

Gather (Chesapeake, VA)

Of all the PSLs I tried, Gather’s was the best. It had the best ratio of coffee to pumpkin. You get the flavor of their espresso, but it still has a good amount of pumpkin which sets it apart from other drinks. The two flavors balance each other nicely – creamy and warming to the soul – helping the enjoyer embrace the season.

Coffee Flavor: ☕☕☕☕
Pumpkin Flavor: 🎃🎃🎃🎃
Overall Enjoyment: 5/5 – A thoroughly enjoyable experience. Plus, Gather’s mugs are so cute!

BONUS – Café Moka Autumn Tea Latte (Virginia Beach, VA)

While not a traditional coffee-based version, the Autumn Tea Latte still has many elements of a PSL. It has an English Breakfast tea base, with frothed milk and pumpkin spice flavorings, topped with cinnamon. If you are looking for a nice afternoon drink and don’t want the caffeine of espresso or the heaviness of a normal latte, this drink never fails to be a delicious substitute.

Coffee Flavor: (No Coffee!)
Pumpkin Flavor: 🎃🎃🎃🎃
Overall Enjoyment: 5/5 – The perfect substitute for those who wish to fully escape the “basic-ness” of the PSL.

Danielle Crowley is a staff writer for the Daily Runner.