Sweet and Spicy

Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte

For many people, the fall season begins on the day after Labor Day. Growing up, it was when fall began for me, because it’s when school resumed after summer vacation. For the last eight years, however, Fuzzy and I have lived in Texas, where temperatures are still summer-hot at least mid-way through the month.

Nevertheless, today is when the Pumpkin Spice Latte returned to Starbucks, and so, even though the high temperature in my city was 104 today, we went to Starbucks after a lovely dinner at our favorite Asian bistro and a quick jaunt to the grocery store. (We were out of cheese and toothpaste. It was dire.)

My local Starbucks has gained a new barista this summer, not an unusual occurrence at a coffee shop, but this one is particularly awesome. Her name is Katherine (or some variant spelling of that name, but, to quote Anne Shirley, and with no disrespect meant to certain friends or relatives, “Katherine spelt with a K is so much more alluring than Catherine with a C”). She wears rainbow spikes in her ear lobes, which should be weird but somehow hers are both cool and tasteful. She has a lovely speaking voice (no Texas accent so I’m guessing she’s a student at one of the local colleges) and a great personality.

And tonight, she introduced me to a new drink customization.

Our conversation went like this:

“Hi, it’s good to see you!” Katherine greeted me.

“Thanks! I saw the sign that Pumpkin Spice Lattes were back when I was at Tom Thumb, but the kiosk closes at seven, and while they’re lovely people, they’re excruciatingly slow.” I said.

“The salted caramel mocha is back too, you know,” she said with a seductive tone in her voice.

“I know,” I said conspiratorially, “but it’s too hot for the salted caramel mocha. It is not, however, too hot for a grande Pumpkin Spice Latte.”

“Good point,” she agreed, beginning to mark my drink request onto the appropriately sized cardboard cup. Then she paused. “You know what I’ve been doing?” she asked.

“No,” I said, leaning over the counter. “Tell me!”

“I’ve been mixing chai with the Pumpkin Spice Latte. You’re a fan of chai, aren’t you.”

I confirmed that I was, in fact, a chai fan, and that I’d love to try her concoction, and so instead of a standard PSL, I walked out with a grande PSL enhanced by two pumps of chai.

It was sweet and spicy, and had a hint of tea underneath the coffee, and was a bit darker in tone than a standard PSL.

Katherine says the only thing better, in her opinion, is mixing chai with the Gingerbread Lattes when they come out in winter.

I can’t wait to find out.

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 Sweet and Spicy by Melissa Bartell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.