The Pumpkin Spice Latte is back at Starbucks, but their new pumpkin drink is way better

For the first time, the PSL has a pumpkin pal.
Starbucks' new Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew, left, and its Pumpkin Spice Latte.
Starbucks' new Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew, left, and its Pumpkin Spice Latte. [ MICHELLE STARK | Times ]
Published Aug. 27, 2019|Updated Aug. 27, 2019

It’s the same thing every year. Starbucks releases its Pumpkin Spice Latte into the blistering death grips of summer heat; some lament that it’s too early for such fall frivolity, others embrace it.

But it’s time we had something new to talk about beyond whether the PSL contains any actual pumpkin. The notorious latte is back as of today — the earliest debut yet, though it beats 2018′s Aug. 28 date by just one day. (Dunkin’ released its equivalent, the Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Latte on Aug. 21.) And, for the first time ever, it’s joined by a pumpkin pal.

Also today, Starbucks released a new drink called the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew, their first fresh take on something pumpkiny since the PSL debuted more than 15 years ago.

In keeping with current coffee trends, it’s a cold brew drink, specifically their vanilla-flavored cold brew coffee topped with a layer of pumpkin-flavored cold foam (made with real pumpkin, according to Starbucks) and a dash of pumpkin spice to finish things off.

We tried one, and there’s good news for you pumpkin spice lovers who aren’t into the cloying sweetness of the PSL: This drink is way better.

The new Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew drink at Starbucks.
The new Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew drink at Starbucks. [ MICHELLE STARK | Tampa Bay Times ]

First of all, it’s much less sweet, with actual coffee flavors complimenting the pumpkin spice cream. A 16-ounce grande size contains 250 calories and 31 grams of sugar, while a Pumpkin Spice Latte in the same size has 380 calories and 50 grams of sugar. You can taste that difference, and it’s nice for those of us who prefer our coffee to taste more like coffee. (Tip: If you ask for the cold brew without the vanilla syrup, it’s even less sweet, but still capped with those pumpkin spice flavors.)

And then there’s the cold foam, a Starbucks creation that was rolled out nationally in 2018. According to Starbucks: “Cold foam is a modern twist on the classic as a perfect finish to cold beverages. Frothed cold instead of hot by blending nonfat milk until it is smooth, creating layers of creamy texture and flavor without the cream.”

In the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew, that foam is flavored with pumpkin and pumpkin spice flavorings. It floats atop the cold brew, slowly seeping into the coffee as it melts. It’s a delightful alternative to regular cold brew and cream, and a whimsical fit for the fall drink.

But our favorite part of the new drink? It’s ice cold, perfectly suitable for sipping on Aug. 27, nearly a full month before fall begins.