National Coffee Day & The Pumpkin Spice Latte History - The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures National Coffee Day & The Pumpkin Spice Latte History
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National Coffee Day & The Pumpkin Spice Latte History

Sixty-two percent of Americans drink coffee every day [source]. So de facto, millions of Americans will be celebrating National Coffee Day, September 29th. (International Coffee Day is October 1st).

There are more fun coffee stats below. But first, in honor of fall, let’s give some time to the Pumpkin Spice Latte.

The drink is available in 50 countries worldwide, and an estimated 424 million have been sold. That’s an estimated $1.4 billion in sales since its launch in 2003!

The PSL was conceived on a spring day in 2003 by a Starbucks product development team. The team had developed the recipes for seasonal favorites such as Eggnog Latte and Peppermint Mocha, and were looking for a new beverage to add to the fall lineup.

They brought in kitschy fall decorations and pumpkin pies, and began to explore ideas for a pumpkin-inspired espresso beverage. They would sample a forkful of pumpkin pie, followed by a sip of hot espresso. Slowly they teased out which flavors from the pie best complemented the coffee.

Over the next three months, the team tasted and re-tasted different versions of the beverage. They settled on a recipe that used pumpkin spice sauce with cinnamon, clove and nutmeg, made with espresso and steamed milk. The drink was topped off with whipped cream and a dash of pumpkin pie topping.

In the fall of 2003, the beverage was introduced at 100 Starbucks stores in Vancouver and Washington, D.C. It was an immediate hit. A new fall tradition was begun.

One of the original name ideas was Fall Harvest Latte. Then we’d have had an FHL instead of the PSL. By the way, PSL was the original beverage code for Pumpkin Spice Latte, written by baristas on the cups. It soon became the drink’s nickname [source].

In the fall of 2004, Pumpkin Spice Latte rolled out across the company’s U.S. stores. It is now available in nearly 50 countries throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. It’s Starbucks’ most popular seasonal beverage.

It has become more than a fall tradition. This year, Starbucks introduced the PSL in August!

Did you know there is no pumpkin in Pumpkin Spice Latte?

The flavor is created from pumpkin pie spices, a blend of all or some of the following: allspice, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg.

In fact, most pumpkin spice syrups do the same thing.

But we did find a syrup made with real pumpkin puree!

Pink House Alchemy is an artisan maker of syrups, bitters and shrubs.

Their Pumpkin & Butternut† Spice Syrup has the familiar autumn aromas and flavors.


[1] For National Coffee Day, we’re celebrating with something more festive than black coffee.

[2] There is no pumpkin in a Pumpkin Spice Latte. It’s flavored with pumpkin pie spices (photo © Starbucks).

[3] Pumpkin Butternut Spice Syrup from Alchemy House actually is made with real pumpkin puree (photo © Pink House Alchemy).

But unlike most other syrups you’ll come across, this is made from actual fruit* purées: pumpkin purée and butternut purée‡. The syrup is spiced with cardamom and maple and sweetened with brown sugar.

It’s a great gift for anyone who has ever said, “I need a pumpkin spice latte!”

Just to give a shout-out to the other flavors: Blackberry Sage, Cardamom, Dark Cherry Grenadine, Ginger, Hazelnut, Herbalicious (lavender, mint, rosemary, thyme), Hibiscus Rose, Lavender, Mexican Chile, PH Delight (cinnamon, honey, vanilla), Sarsaparilla, Simple Syrup, Strawberry, Toasted Caramel, Tonic Syrup (to pair with gin cocktails), Vanilla Bean and Winter Mint.

Use any of them in cocktails, non-alcoholic drinks hot and cold, to make sodas and flavored seltzers, as a dessert syrup, even to toss with popcorn.

Check them out at


*Squash (of which pumpkin is one) are fruits, not vegetables. Here’s the difference between fruits and vegetables.

†In case you’re wondering why a syrup made of purée is clear, not cloudy, it undergoes a proprietary filtration process.

‡Why butternut squash? Much of the canned pumpkin in stores is not pumpkin at all. It’s a blend of other winter squash types, including Boston Marrow, butternut, Golden Delicious, and Hubbard. These squash varieties are less stringy than pumpkin, with more natural sweetness and deeper color than pumpkin.


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