Are you tired of pumpkin spice yet? Alarmingly, you’re probably not. There are so many pumpkin spice products in existence right now you could write a novel about them. Heck, if you really tried, you could probably subsist solely on pumpkin spice for the entirety of the harvest season. If there was ever a time in history to love pumpkin, it’s now.
It’s time to take it back to… well, basics and remember the OG pumpkin spice, the groundbreaking latte that started it all: the PSL. Here’s the thing. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but these PSLs aren’t exactly good for you.
You probably already knew that. I mean, they’re basically sugar in a mug. With cream. Topped with more cream. Sorry.
But it’s impossible to go the season without indulging your inner #basic at least once. Or twice. Okay, so you go every week — you can’t help it! If you’re going to indulge in a mug or two or ten, it couldn’t hurt to know which varieties are clogging your arteries, spiking your blood glucose, sending your calorie intake through the roof…. And which aren’t so bad.
If you’re going to indulge in your pumpkin spice, it’s best to do it at home with this bottled, almond milk-based latte. While offering an alternative to standard varieties of milks and creamers, Califia Farms also managed to create a PSL product that’s not overflowing with added sugar. In fact, a cup only has 10 grams — that’s a fifth of a Starbucks PSL. And it’s dairy free. Incredible.
These canned confections come in 9-ounce bottles — so we did a little math to make things fair to compare against the 16-ounce lattes one might typically purchase. For a 16-ounce serving of La Colombe’s Pumpkin Spice Draft Latte, you get only 250 calories and 25 grams of sugar, all but 7 grams of which are the natural result of adding milk. We’ve tasted these lattes, and they don’t taste like your typical creamy, decadent PSL — but that makes these much more appropriate for an average-day treat.
While we don’t know the calorie or sugar content of this particular chain’s blend, we do know that it’s made with vanilla bean and almond milk with limited added sugar. We’re impressed with this café’s dedication to at least aiming for nutrition on their menu — unfortunately, you can only find them on the West Coast.
This chain is known for their higher-quality coffee, and the PSL is no exception. They call it a “Pumpkin Latte.” But we know what they really mean. Their medium size with 2 percent milk contains only 212 calories, which is much lower than the other popular chains’ seasonal sips. They also keep the sugar content down to 31 grams. Nice work, Peet’s. We’re impressed.
Pret is eager to boast about the healthy menu options and seasonal salads on its menu. It makes sense that the coffees would be seasonal, too — and somewhat healthy. For a medium Spiced Pumpkin Latte, you get 260 calories and 33 grams of sugar. By no means an everyday thing, but much less of an offender than the others on this list.
Not-so-slyly called the “Pumpkin Pie Latte,” Au Bon Pain’s seasonal latte of choice is favorably on the healthier side. It lacks the denseness of syrups present in the other drinks, which might detract from the taste. But it keeps the calories down at 270 and the sugar at a modest 34.
You’d think the fast-food conglomerate with some of the unhealthiest menu items in existence would have the worst PSL, too — but impressively, they kept the calories somewhat down. A Pumpkin Spice Latte from McD’s has 300 calories and 45 grams of sugar, which is lower than most coffee chains. However, they accomplished this using sucralose — the compound in Splenda and other artificial sweeteners. No bueno. Sucralose is approximately 600 times as sweet as regular sugar and it is suspected to play a role in certain cancers and diabetes.
Come on, McDonald’s. If someone’s ordering a PSL with whole milk, are they really looking for a diet product? Save the sucralose for the Diet Coke.
This is perfect for taking your breakfast and coffee to-go. They now sell a bottled iced variety of their classic Pumpkin Spice Latte, and it’s way healthier than the hot freshly-ordered kind. It has fewer calories (just around 300 for 16 ounces) and less sugar (48 grams) than a hot PSL made to order. However, it doesn’t have the whipped cream — if you added that yourself, it would likely tip you over the edge.
Alright, there are so many varieties out there of the Starbucks PSL. Let’s get the specifics straight: we’re talking the most common, default PSL order. A Grande, 2 percent milk, with whipped cream. Undoubtedly, this latte will satisfy your deepest, most intense PSL cravings. Nothing compares to the original. But how does the nutrition stack up?
One of these bad boys has 50 grams of sugar and 360 calories. Okay, okay…. Not that bad. But not great, either. Sorry, stomach — I’ll do what’s best for you later. For now I’m totally hooked on these sugary PSLs.
This nationwide chain terms their iteration of the classic drink a “Pumpkin Swirl Latte”, defaulting to whole milk for their customers. A medium size of this drink confection has 52 grams of sugar and 340 calories. Syrup is impressively low on the ingredients list with spot number three — but the ingredients list has seven different occurrences of sugar. The insane blood glucose spike you’d get with a few sips of one of these is enough to knock it farther down this list than the Starbucks variety.
We bet you didn’t know that this convenience store has quite the extensive coffee menu — PSL included. Wawa’s Pumpkin Latte with 2 percent milk has 350 calories and 60 grams of sugar. That’s quite a lot, but not the worst offender on this list. Though we haven’t tried their latte, we do know it comes with a whole lot of processed ingredients in its syrup.
We’re not sure this latte would be the tastiest, but it’s just a smidge higher in calories than its convenience-store competitor. A 16-ounce serving, equivalent to a medium size from elsewhere, contains 380 calories and 54 grams of sugar. So close, 7-Eleven. So close. Still, though, there are worse things on 7-Eleven’s menu.
If you’re going to Krispy Kreme, you’re probably not worried about the sugar you consume. But seriously, if you’re eating a doughnut with your coffee, you might want to steer clear of the pumpkin spice. Krispy Kreme’s Pumpkin Spice Latte has a whopping 390 calories and 55 grams of sugar — that’s five times more sugar than their Original Glazed Donut. The doughnut also has less fat. And less carbs… Seriously, just get the doughnut.
If you can, grab their seasonal doughnut before it disappears forever.
They might have upgraded the healthfulness of their menu, but they could learn a thing or two about sugary coffee drinks. Panera’s PSL has a disappointing 450 calories — more than many of their food menu items. It also has 53 grams of syrupy sugar. Not exactly an ideal complement to a superfood salad or smoothie (especially when that smoothie is loaded with sugar).
Yelp / Adam P
Okay, the sugar in this latte is obscene. A medium, 437-calorie Hot Pumpkin Latte from Einstein’s has 74 grams of sugar. How did they even fit all of that in there?! Their ingredients aren’t available online (suspicious…) so we aren’t sure. But we do know that one of these lattes has way more sugar than the average dessert.
Brace yourselves — this might be the worst of the worst. A Caribou Coffee medium-sized Pumpkin Pie Latte is advertised as containing real pumpkin. And it does — just not very much of it. The main ingredient in the drink is “pumpkin sauce,” aka sugar syrup with a bit of pumpkin mixed in. If you add the whip (which, let’s be honest, if you’re getting a PSL at this chain you probably are) your latte has a grand total of 77 grams of sugar and 600 calories. That’s three times your recommended daily sugar limit and about as many calories as an average sized meal. Save this coffee shop’s brew for a day of serious indulgence.