Starbucks’ pumpkin spice latte crisis is no trouble for any real food lover in New York. We look for purer, more local fall flavors. Our hearts melt (and mouths water) when spices are grated fresh onto a latte made from locally roasted beans and real pumpkin, or when a drink is crowned with fluffy dollops of homemade whipped cream.
So take a pass on Starbucks tomorrow for one of our top three picks for the best pumpkin latte in Manhattan. We guarantee you won’t be missing out.
L.A. Burdick Handmade Chocolates
5 E. 20th St.
Order your drink at the counter and pull up a chair in this warm-hued, French-themed café: This latte deserves your full attention.
As you sip, you’ll notice the rich, thick quality of the drink. L.A. Burdick mixes La Colombe espresso with whole milk and an organic pumpkin purée blended with spices and sugar. The result is a delicate balance of pumpkin, spice, and coffee flavors under a thin layer of creamy foam topped with freshly grated nutmeg.
The inspiration for the latte was all the disappointing drinks on the market, said Drew Daly, the assistant manager.
"We were bummed out by all the syrupy drinks and wanted to do something different," he said.
Neighborhood: Midtown West
When I walked into AQ Kafé, the manager, Jack Stoessel, had just finished making batch of homemade pumpkin syrup. The Culinary Institute of America grad came up with the idea a month ago in attempt to give the reign in pure fall flavors.
"Normally, syrups have a fake, synthetic flavor because of the corn syrup and extracts," he said. "This way I can control what goes in and there are no additives."
Stoessel combines sugar, pumpkin, and a secret mix of spices for just the right flavor. He adds his syrup to La Colombe Savoia espresso — a darker Italian roast — and whole milk and tops off the latte with a generous dollop of whipped cream sprinkled with the same spice mixture.
Bean & Bean
Neighborhood: Financial District
If you don’t request the homemade whipped cream at Bean & Bean, you’re either a fool or on too strict a diet. Made from heavy whipping cream and half-and-half, it’s the key ingredient of this latte’s decadence.
The espresso, made from a blend of beans from Sumatra and Tanzania, is also made in-house. The darker roast is offset by the whipped cream and a mix of fall flavors. Bean & Bean uses Monin pumpkin syrup made from pure cane sugar to sweeten the drink and add spice.
A word to the wise: You might want to save this latte for special occasions. When you finish, you’ll be just as buzzed on the sugar as you are on the caffeine.