As an unashamed lover of the Pumpkin Spice Latté (or as it is lovingly referred to–a PSL), I find myself inhaling as much of this fall flavor while I can. After all, it’s only here for a limited time! I am a huge coffee connoisseur and spend a lot of time hunting down cute coffee shops to meet up with friends or to set up camp in to work on my blog (ToThe9sFashion.com). Throughout my time at various coffee shops (or as I call it, coffee-shopping), I’ve stumbled upon Chicago’s local take on my fall favorite. Here’s my list and review of all the Pumpkin Spice Lattés I’ve tried around Chicago.
The OG Pumpkin Spice Latte. Starbucks’ PSL is a favorite fall treat that many of us countdown the days to sipping as we put on our cozy sweaters and celebrate all things fall. Even though this drink has a bad rap for being for “basic girls”, I unabashedly embrace my love of the PSL. Bring on the fall!
For my taste, the unaltered Starbucks PSL is really too sweet for me. It really relies on its sweetness rather than earthy-pumpkin flavors. As for the spice, if sugar is a spice in your book, then sure, it’s super spicy! Pro-tip: Get a PSL with nonfat milk, only two pumps of pumpkin, and add a pump of chai. It knocks down the sweetness and cuts the calories in half. Yes, the barista might roll their eyes at you, but you’re beating the PSL system.
Elaine’s Coffee Call
Elaine’s Coffee Call is a darling little coffee shop in the lobby of the Lincoln Hotel. It is not big, but it is cute and the staff is lovely. So cute, in fact, I did a photoshoot there last week for my blog, ToThe9sFashion.com. It’s delicate without being precious, and cute without being twee. When Gilmore Girls took over coffee shops to convert into Luke’s (the GG’s favorite coffee shop and diner), Elaine’s Coffee Call was their pick in Chicago. That should give you a fairly clear picture of this coffee shop’s atmosphere.
Elaine’s has a Pumpkin Butter Latté on their fall menu. The barista told me they put their own house-made pumpkin butter in the drink, and I was excited to try it. Unfortunately, I rate the drink as just okay. It’s tasty! But it’s just like “yeah, I guess you did put pumpkin in this.” The other downside is once you get to the bottom of the drink you are ingesting some straight-up chunky pumpkin butter. Definitely fun to sip on during the fall, but not something I’ll be venturing up to Lincoln Park to reorder soon.
This coffee/bike shop is a favorite place of mine to visit when I’m hanging out in Lakeview. The rustic interior makes its way into many an instagram photo, and their coffee is really a good pick. For fall, Heritage is touting their own version of a PSL. When I saw it on the menu, I actually yelled at the barista (as she was preparing my plain latte) “Hold the phones! Y’all have a PSL?! SIGN ME UP!” I’m not ashamed.
This PSL is as close to Starbuck’s PSL of those I’ve tried around Chicago. It is, however, less sweet and slightly earthier. To me, it’s what you’d expect a more upscale PSL to taste like. The quality of espresso is certainly better, too, which plays a large part in making this a tastier option than Starbucks.
3 Greens Market
3 Greens Market is one of my favorite spots to set up camp and get some work done. I can hang out here for a good bit of time. The environment is so lovely. It feels quirky enough that it’s fun to sit and admire the decor, but clean and well-kept enough that you don’t feel like you’re hanging out at an estate sale.
The 3 Greens Market take on a PSL is a Caramel Pumpkin Spice Latte. I was really excited to try this one because I love caramel flavored coffees. So caramel plus PSL should equal my soulmate in the form of a drink. Wrong. Quite frankly, the syrup game was too strong here. The caramel was too heavy and the pumpkin flavors barely came through. There was also not a lot of “spice” shining through here. I’d say skip this one… unless you’re not too big on the pumpkin spice part of pumpkin spice lattés.
Revival Food Hall is a little downtown oasis that is simply the fanciest food court you will ever go to. Their coffee bar is consistently ranked among Chicago’s best, and it is definitely my top pick for a cup of quality coffee downtown. The one downside to the Revival Cafe Bar is it is just that–a bar. It’s a very grab-and-go atmosphere rather than the kind of place you’d sit down to relax or work.
Revival boasts its own fall menu, and on it is the Pumpkin Latté. Their Pumpkin Latté is made with pumpkin butter purée (so you avoid that chunkiness), ginger and cardamom. Friends. This is it. It is so good. First off, the espresso used here is so good that it really sets it apart from the rest. Second, the ingredients used are so fresh that it really amps up the flavor. This latté tastes earthy, spicy, and just a touch a sweetness. Like a little taste of fall in a cup.
By: Mackenzie Dunn, Guest Writer, Junior League of Chicago Member 2016-17