We Tried the New All-Natural Pumpkin Spice Latte—and WOW

You won't be sorry that Panera and Starbucks are ditching artificial ingredients this fall.

Exciting news if you’re trying to avoid artificial flavoring but are as obsessed as we are with pumpkin spice lattes: Both Starbucks and Panera announced today that their PSLs will be made with REAL pumpkin this season. 

“After hearing from customers and partners about ingredients, we took another look at this beverage and why we created it so many years ago,” Peter Dukes, Starbucks’ espresso brand manager, wrote on the company’s blog. “It was simple—espresso, perfectly steamed milk, [and] warm fall spices with delicious flavor of pumpkin pie that reminds you of the cool, crisp days of autumn. So with that great taste you know and love, the PSL returns this fall, and this time it will be made with real pumpkin and without caramel coloring.”

Related Link: 50 Peculiar Sounding Fake Ingredients Restaurants Put in Your Food

Panera Bread visited our office last week to share the details on its own pumpkin spice latte. “Our pumpkin offerings have long included real pumpkin—and this year our pumpkin spice latte takes real a step further,” says Dan Kish, Panera’s head chef. 

Here’s how the ingredient lists for each compare:

Starbucks

  • Espresso
  • Milk
  • Pumpkin Spice Flavored Sauce (Sugar, Condensed Skim Milk, Pumpkin Puree, Contains 2% or Less of Fruit and Vegetable Juice for Color, Natural Flavors, Annatto (Color), Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Salt)
  • Whipped Cream (Light Whipping Cream [Cream, Mono and Diglycerides, Carrageenan])
  • Starbucks Vanilla Syrup (Sugar, Water, Natural Flavors, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Citric Acid)
  • Pumpkin Spice Topping (Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg, Clove)

Panera

  • Espresso
  • Reduced-Fat Milk
  • Pumpkin Spice Flavored Syrup (Sugar, Glycerin, Pumpkin, Organic Invert Cane Syrup, Molasses, Water, Dark Brown Sugar, Natural Flavors, Allspice, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Ginger, Annatto and Turmeric (for color), Gellan Gum
  • Whipped Cream (Cream, Skim milk, Sugar, Sorbitan Monostearate, Carrageenan, Dextrose, Natural Vanilla Flavor)
  • Salted Caramel Sauce (Sweetened Condensed Milk, Tapioca Syrup, Cane Sugar, Organic Invert Cane Sugar, Glycerin, Light Brown Sugar, Butter, Heavy Cream, Salt, Natural Flavors, Sunflower Lecithin)

Related Link: Panera’s Banning 150 Ingredients from Its Menu- Here’s What a Nutritionist Says About It

Starbucks hasn’t released any sort of nutrition stats, but Panera let us know that its 16-ounce small size clocks in around 450 calories. (It will also offer the drink made with almond milk and/or without the caramel and whipped cream upon request.) We got to sample Panera’s drink, too. Here’s what our tasters had to say about it:

“I was surprised by how much I liked it! I take my sweet indulgences pretty seriously, so I can be a tough judge, but all in all the latte was very tasty and the natural ingredients were noticeable (in a good way), from the richness of the pumpkin puree flavor to the spices at the bottom of the cup. The calorie count is high, so I would definitely opt for a ‘skinny’ size, but I prefer almond milk over cow’s milk anyway.”

“I loved it! I thought it tasted light and fresh even with the regular milk but also naturally sweet. Other PSLs taste like artificial pumpkin flavoring syrup, but this one had little bits of spices at the bottom, which made it certifiably fresh and authentic.”

“It was extremely sweet—this drink is definitely an indulgence. I could smell the pumpkin before I even tasted the coffee, which is a huge plus because if I’m ordering a pumpkin spice latte, then I want actual pumpkin.”

“It was very cinnamon-y and you could see the chunks of seasoning in it. The milk in it upset my stomach a little, so the option to have almond instead will be great.”

Related Link: All the Ingredients in Your Coffee That Aren’t Coffee 

Panera’s latte will be available for sampling at Victor Steinbrueck Park near Pike’s Place in Seattle tomorrow from 7 a.m. to noon PST—and it will be available at Panera locations nationwide starting September 9. No word yet on when Starbucks’ will be available.

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Source: Women’s Health Mag