Year after year, coffee lovers all over the world await the return of Starbucks’s fall drinks. And with flavors like pumpkin spice, salted caramel and caramel apple on the menu, it’s no surprise why. Last year, Starbucks released its fall bevs at the end of August, earlier than ever before (so at least one nice thing happened in 2020). It also inaugurated a limited-time hotline that you could call to hear soothing autumnal sounds, like a crackling fire or a hayride. While we cross our fingers for new items to hit the menu next month, allow us to wax poetic about our favorite Starbucks fall drinks to date.
The PSL is that b**** for a reason. The dreamy, warm-spiced pumpkin syrup made with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves is the secret to its fame, and over the years it’s become Starbucks’s most popular seasonal sipper of all time. The syrup is combined with steamed milk and fresh espresso for a hot latte, though you can also order an iced pumpkin spice latte. Either way, we’d be remiss not to suggest springing for whipped cream and a dusting of pumpkin pie spice on top.
If lattes have too much milk to make the cut for your morning joe, opt for this cold brew-based bev instead. The coffee is sweetened with vanilla syrup (although you could ask the barista to use pumpkin spice syrup instead) and topped with a pumpkin-infused cream cold foam before being sprinkled with pumpkin spice topping.
We can hear your sweet tooth squealing for joy already. This sipper is basically liquid dessert since it calls for both mocha sauce and toffee nut syrup to achieve its signature flavor. While espresso offers some bitterness and steamed milk thins out the sugary base, we reserve this seasonal pick for when we’re really craving a treat instead of with breakfast (you know, to avoid chasing our morning buzz with an inevitable sugar crash). We also love the salted caramel hot chocolate with whipped cream and caramel drizzle, which is just like the mocha minus the espresso.
Ah, the Frappuccino. How is it that we crave your icy embrace even in the dead of winter? One thing’s for sure: We dream about the blended rendition of our favorite fall mocha all year round. It gets all the same ingredients as the latte, save for the Frappuccino blend coffee in place of espresso and the addition of Frappuccino base, which gives the drink its silky consistency. With whipped cream, caramel sauce and a flourish of turbinado sugar and sea salt on top, it’s ready to demolish. (BTW, if you never stray from your precious PSL while it’s available, ask for a Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino or a coffee-free Pumpkin Crème Frappuccino instead.)
We like to think of this fall bev as a bit of a hidden gem, as many Starbucks loyalists don’t even know it exists. Despite the drink being on the menu year-round, it’s pretty darn autumnal if you ask us. (Think of it as an extra sweet cheater’s mulled cider.) Soothe your soul one sip at a time with Cinnamon Dolce syrup-spiked steamed apple juice. As if that wasn’t drool-worthy enough, the drink also gets a generous drizzle of caramel sauce and a crown of whipped cream.
Another permanent menu item that shines just a bit brighter in the fall. Served hot, iced or even blended (yup, the Chai Crème Frappuccino is a thing), the chai tea latte starts with black tea infused with cinnamon, clove and a whole slew of warm spices. Its intensity is curbed by the addition of steamed milk. Feel free to make it a bit sweeter with a few pumps of vanilla syrup. You can also ask the barista to substitute apple juice for standard water to up the fall ante—the juice’s sweetness will pair beautifully with chai’s bounty of spices.
This drink hit Starbucks’s menu in 2017 alongside the Maple Macchiato. It’s loaded with notes of maple syrup, nutty brown butter and pecans. The best part is the crunchy sugar topping sprinkled over the foam. Its fall 2021 launch in the U.S. is still up in the air (it’s super popular in Canada), but you can safely assume that our fingers and toes are crossed for its return.