The #PSL Life: Are Starbucks Fall Drinks a Craze or Phase?



Starbucks released its most popular fall drink, the Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL), a month early on Aug. 15. Since the drink’s debut in 2003, according to the Huffington Post, more than 20 million orders have been sold. Also according to the website, Starbucks gained an annual revenue of $13.29 billion in 2012 with over 35 percent of that revenue coming from seasonal drinks and specials, such as the PSL. For students like junior Mary Caltrider, the PSL’s early release is exciting for her and other coffee aficionados.

“For me, as an avid coffee lover, it really kicks off autumn for me. I was so excited that (Starbucks) came out with my favorite drink a month early. The day it came out, which was Aug. 15, I got one, and I don’t think it had ever tasted better. I mean come on, doesn’t pumpkin spice make you just want to go out in your comfiest sweater and embrace the coming of fall? Fall is the best time to get back into long clothing and an appropriate time to go on Starbucks runs more often because of the colder weather,” Caltrider said while sipping a large Starbucks mug of coffee outside.

However, the drink’s popularity also comes with criticism. According to a truncated list of ingredients of the PSL released by Starbucks, the drink contains absolutely no real pumpkin. In addition, KPRC Houston listed a side-by-side comparison of another very similar fall-themed drink, Dunkin Donut’s Pumpkin Crème Brulee Latte, to the Starbucks PSL. The Starbucks version had 210 more calories for a venti than a Dunkin Donut’s large and contains almost all artificial ingredients, even with its organic soymilk.

Sophomore Nevian Brown said she doesn’t fall for the hype.

“While I understand the role that the PSL plays as a fall drink, I really don’t see it as something to obsess over because it’s just not that big of a deal to me. I mean, I can get an extremely similar latte from both McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts, so I really don’t understand the need to have one from Starbucks. If it’s just for the cup and the status symbol, I think it’s pretty ridiculous to pay a few extra dollars for the Pumpkin Spice latte.”

Junior Mary Caltrider: “How can you not love the PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte)? while it is kind of weird that Starbucks doesn’t tell you all of the ingredients in the drink, the overall goal of extreme deliciousness and satisfaction is still there.”  

Sophomore Nevian Brown: “Why should I pay my money if they don’t even tell you everything that’s in the drink? If they choose to not tell you everything, then imagine what they could be hiding in that small cup. With the emptiness of the hype, I don’t really see why it is so popular.”