Autumn is undoubtedly my favorite time of year: leaves falling, Oktoberfest beer flowing, flannel sheets reemerging from summer storage, and the slow death of the disgusting heat that turns me into an angry, sweaty beast from June through the middle of September. All is perfect, all is well, save for one minor detail: Starbucks rolls out their awful Pumpkin Spice Lattes.
The best way to sum up the way I feel on the drink is to paraphrase the band X: The world’s a mess; I blame Pumpkin Spice Lattes. I’m content enjoying my favorite season, sitting on a bench, reading a book… and then somebody sits down next to me drinking one of those wretched concoctions; any happy feelings get flushed down the metaphorical toilet when I get the slightest whiff of that hot garbage mixed with milk.
My hatred of the drink that makes its annual debut — and, in fact, celebrates its tenth anniversary — today is a combination of two things, the first being that I just don’t like the taste of sugar, chalk, and chemicals in my mouth. And that’s really the most generous way I could describe the drink’s flavor profile to a lucky soul who has never put a Starbucks cup filled with the beverage to their lips. The combination of sugar, condensed nonfat milk, sweetened condensed nonfat milk, annatto (E160b, color), natural and artificial flavors, caramel color (E150D), salt, and potassium sorbate (E202, a preservative) tastes to me — at best — like cinnamon mixed with a bunch of crap that probably belongs in a laboratory or in a mop bucket, not inside of a person.
While we each have our own diverse tastes and perceptions, my stance against Pumpkin Spice Lattes — the drink Starbucks describes as “signature espresso blended with the unmistakable spices of fall – cinnamon, nutmeg and clove – smooth with steamed milk, topped with delectably sweetened whipped cream and pumpkin pie spices” — also has a lot to do with the fact that I spent close to a decade making and serving coffee. The sheer number of people who would come into whatever coffee shop I was working at and complain, “You’d probably have more customers if you served Pumpkin Spice Lattes – like Starbucks,” is higher than you’d imagine.
I get that both of these reasons are highly personal, and possibly a tad irrational. I don’t deny that each person is allowed to drink whatever they want, no matter how bad it is for them, be it soda, bourbon, or milk that’s past the expiration date. But, at the very least, be honest when ordering a Pumpkin Spice Latte from the person in the green apron. You aren’t really ordering a reasonable cup of coffee, like an adult; rather, you’re ordering a venti cup filled with drinkable dessert — a very disgusting cup of drinkable dessert that makes me gag to even think about.