Battle of the Pumpkin Spice Lattes: Panera and Starbucks Go All-Natural This Year

Panera has re-released its seasonal pumpkin spice latte with all ‘clean, natural’ ingredients

Here's a new drink to fuel your pumpkin spice obsession. 

As the last days of August melt away in the sweltering heat, it could only mean one thing: pumpkin spice season is back. The undisputed pumpkin spice king is the pumpkin spice latte, usually associated with Starbucks. The newest pumpkin temptation is the recently revamped pumpkin spice latte from Panera, which has been tweaked to contain only what they describe as all-natural, clean ingredients.

Until now, Panera was one of the only restaurants to offer a pumpkin spice latte made with real pumpkin and zero artificial coloring or high-fructose corn syrup (Panera removed high-fructose corn syrup from all of its products earlier this year as part of its “no-no list” campaign).

However, Starbucks also made a huge announcement at the same time as Panera: After receiving criticism last year from health advocates like the Food Babe, their iconic pumpkin spice latte will now also contain real pumpkin and zero artificial coloring. Conspiracy? Coincidence? We think it’s just an opportunity to drink double the pumpkin-y goodness this fall.

“Our pumpkin offerings have long included real pumpkin — and this year our pumpkin spice latte takes real a step further,” Panera representative Dan Kish said in a press release that was distributed and embargoed before Starbucks’ big announcement. “We are the only [sic] national restaurant company offering a ‘real pumpkin latte’, made entirely without artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, preservatives or high fructose corn syrup. We’re letting the goodness of real pumpkin, milk and spices do all the work.”


The Panera pumpkin spice latte, made with milk, pumpkin, whipped cream, spices, and salted caramel sauce, will be tested in Seattle August 18, and will be released nationwide September 9. There’s no word yet on when Starbucks will release their pumpkin spice latte, but we’re sure it won’t be long now.