How to Make Your Own Pumpkin Spice Latte

BrainDo Culture

How to Make Your Own Pumpkin Spice Latte


Want to learn how to make your own spiced pumpkin coffee treat at home? Allow us to help.

You see, the PSL (as it’s affectionally known) has quite a few fans here at BrainDo. So, we looked into it, and you know, making a PSL is not that hard. With a few ingredients and a couple of hours, you can follow Starbucks’ own recipe to make a pumpkin spice latte yourself.

Armed with this information, you can satisfy your love of pumpkin spice no matter the time of year.

What Is Pumpkin Spice?

Before getting started, you should probably know what pumpkin spice actually is.

Pumpkin spice is a combination of a few specific ingredients that people have used to flavor pumpkin pie since the late 18th century.

In the 1930s, food manufacturers began selling mixtures of these spices together as “pumpkin spice” seasoning, which continues today. The most commonly included spices are:

  • Allspice
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Ginger
  • Mace
  • Nutmeg

No one knows the name of the first person to mix this seasoning into a cup of coffee. However, Starbucks credits the director of espresso, Peter Dukes, with bringing the idea to the company, which launched the Pumpkin Spice Latte in 2003, igniting a full-blown marketing frenzy.

Ever since pumpkin spice has become a preeminent cultural phenomenon. Forbes refers to it as the “pumpkin-spice industrial complex,” with brands from Oreos to Cliff Bars, offering everything with pumpkin spice including, hummus, hamburgers, and even toothpaste.

But, for true fans in the 2020s, pumpkin spice remains synonymous with the eponymously named Starbucks beverage.

Fun Fact:
Starbucks nearly scrapped the Pumpkin Spice Latte before it was ever released because of the flavor being too strong for the brand, which prefers to focus on coffee bean quality.

Pumpkin Spice Recipe: Overview

On their journey to beverage infamy, the creators of the original Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte famously poured shots of espresso directly over slices of pumpkin pie to determine the flavor ratios that produced the best taste.

This methodology paid off, resulting in the world-renown, fall-flavored coffee beverage whose recipe is below.

Luckily you don’t need to get as hands on to make your own, but, before getting your kitchen messy, let’s take a quick birds-eye view of the process.

There are two different sets of recipes to follow.

  1. Making the pumpkin spice syrup
  2. Making the pumpkin spice latte with the syrup

And you’ll need some equipment nearby.

  • A small saucepan
  • Cheesecloth (Coffee filters, kitchen towels, paper towels also work)
  • An espresso or coffee maker
  • 2 small bowls
  • Mixer or whisk

Ready to begin? Let’s go, full steam ahead!

How to Make Pumpkin Spice Syrup at Home

Starbucks uses a syrup-based recipe to flavor their famous drink. It requires slowly mixing the spices, sweeteners, and liquid base to create a thick, saucy flavoring you’ll later add to the milk and coffee.

Homemade Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Syrup Ingredients
Serves 8
Amount Ingredient Substitutions
1 ½ cups Sugar Agave, Stevia
1 ½ cups Water n/a
6 Cinnamon sticks ½ cup ground cinnamon per 1-3 inch stick
1 teaspoon Ground cloves n/a
1 teaspoon Ground ginger n/a
2 teaspoons Ground nutmeg n/a
4 tablespoons Pumpkin purée You can use canned or make your own (De-seed a pumpkin, slice it in half, roast until the outer layer separates, remove meat from the skin and blend.)

Now comes the fun part: making your house smell like pumpkin spice nirvana. Here’s how the syrup is made:

  1. Create the liquid base. Mix sugar and water in a saucepan over heat until sugar is dissolved and the water is simmering.
  2. Add spices. Add cinnamon sticks, ground cloves, ginger, nutmeg, and pumpkin puree, simmering for about 20 minutes. (Relax, maybe enjoy a cider, as the fragrance of fall fills the air)
  3. Strain. Immediately after removing from heat, strain the mixture into a small bowl through a cheesecloth and set aside.

You can refrigerate the mix for later use or keep it on standby as you get into the barista mindset to use the syrup for the perfect at-home pumpkin spice latte.

Fun Fact:
Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte didn't include actual pumpkin until 2015. They previously flavored it with nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and a pie spice mixture.

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte: Instructions

With the spiced squashy sauce on hand, it’s time to brew! Here’s what you need to turn that mouthwatering aroma into something you can drink.

Homemade Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte Ingredients
Serves 2
Amount Ingredient Substitutions
2 cups Whole milk Almond milk, cashew milk, oat milk
2-4 oz. Brewed Starbucks® Espresso Roast or Starbucks® by Nespresso® Espresso Roast Other espresso or strong coffee
6 tablespoons Homemade pumpkin spice syrup (above) Store-bought versions
1 cup Whipped cream Coconut whipped cream, cashew whipped cream
2 pinches Pumpkin pie spice You can set aside some of the spices before making the syrup or use any “pumpkin spice” you can find.

Once you have everything you need on hand, you’re just a few steps away from that perfect sip of seasonally flavored love.

  1. Heat and froth the milk. Starbucks recommends a Nespresso® Aeroccino Frother, but you can use any frothing wand for about 20 seconds. Just in case you don’t have one laying around, you can warm and froth milk with the help of other household appliances. A microwave or stovetop, and any of the following: a blender, electric mixer, French press, immersion blender, shaking in a jar, a pump frother, and whisking by hand.
  2. Brew coffee. Starbucks recommends an espresso machine, but you’ll do fine making the coffee base however you prefer, so long as it results in a bold flavor.
  3. Add syrup. Drizzle the syrup into your mug.
  4. Add coffee. Pour in the coffee and stir into the syrup completely.
  5. Add milk. Fill the rest of the mug with the heated, frothed milk, leaving room for the whipped cream.
  6. Add whipped cream. One, two, or three dollops, your choice.
  7. Sprinkle on the spice. Top it off with a pinch of pumpkin spice.

With this recipe, you should be able to make your favorite fall drink at home and feel comfortable making tweaks to fit your own taste.

You Can Love Pumpkin Spice in Any Season

Pumpkin spice is one of the most popular seasonal drinks on Earth, selling more than 450 of millions of cups across the globe every year each September and October.

But as it turns out, people who have never even tasted real pumpkin pie or seen a autumnal leaf, still fall head-over-heels in love with pumpkin spice latte. The reason for the adoration is inexplicable other than that it just objectively tastes really, really good, no matter the context.

So, use this recipe when you feel weird about yourself for wanting pumpkin spice during those long off seasons. It’s okay, and it’s perfectly natural. Pumpkin spice latte is delicious, period. And now you can have it whenever you want.