Cheat Codes: Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte

As mentioned in my last post about pumpkin pie spice, every October September August, millions of yuppies and idiots run to Starbucks forking over shit-tons of money for their limited time pumpkin spice lattes. It’s a tasty treat that you can only get for a few months at a time each year, and is pretty fun as far as coffee is concerned. And again, there seems to be a tremendous amount of novelty in the idea of pumpkin pie lattes, since they do taste so reminiscent of their namesake, that you might fool yourself into thinking the flavoring is some sort of complex concoction involving impossible spices mined from the furthest reaches of outer space and dehydrated pumpkin flakes created using factory-grade machinery. But like I said in our article about making your own pumpkin spice, it’s really just a handful of spices you probably already have on hand. There’s no pumpkin involved, unless you want to get really fancy.

Photo by Tom Nycz.

Though hopefully not THIS fancy.

I always thought it was incredible how Starbucks became the poster-child for big business. Not necessarily based on their success or number of stores, but moreso because of the general concept. Coffee is one of those things where if you enjoy it enough, you’re going to make it at home. And coffee is also one of those things that’s incredibly easy to make at home if you have the requisite kitchen supplies. Coffee makers are so widespread and cheap and easy to find, that even if you can’t afford an expensive one, you can pretty much be guaranteed to find an absurdly cheap one or even free one through various means. Yet despite all this, Starbucks somehow managed to build one of the largest businesses in history around the drink. Understandably so, coffee was much more sought after decades ago when it was more of an exotic beverage that you didn’t necessarily have access to in your own home on an everyday basis.

Except for him. Obviously he can afford it.

Besides him obviously. He could afford it.

Cafes used to serve these fancy coffee drinks were more practical in scope since not everyone owned a coffee machine back then. But really, in modern times anyone who wants a coffee maker can (and most likely does) have access to one, so why do people go out and spend lots of money on coffee at various chains and coffeehouses?

Making pumpkin lattes at home requires little more effort than just making a brew of coffee like normally do. If you read my article, you now have, or at least know how to make, a batch of pumpkin pie spice.  Well, you’re already mostly finished with the work involved in this. The only thing left to deliberate on is how much or how little you want to put into making it as faithful as you can to one you’d buy somewhere.

One route is “only a little” and involves literally 10 seconds of your time, which produces something that isn’t a pumpkin latte, but tastes exactly like it. The other route is “a lot” and involves about three minutes of your time, resulting in something that very closely matches what you’d get at Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts. Both of these options begin with one crucial, yet simple secret to adding the pumpkin pie spice flavor into the coffee, and that is to put the spice into the loose coffee. It’s only one step but it’s really the only step involved.

You might think you could get away with just dumping some in after the coffee is done brewing, but trust me, it doesn’t come out quite right. Instead you wanna add in the pumpkin pie spice to your coffee grinds, right inside the filter on top of the coffee maker. If you use a K-Cup or similar system, you can just as easily open the cup and add it right in there, but it’s not going to be quite the same as with fresh coffee. The most important aspect is that when the coffee gets brewed with the spices in the grinds, the flavor sort of gets cooked and infused into it, rather than just being mixed in at the end, which will make them taste caustic and overpowering. Add in about 1/4 tsp of pumpkin pie spice per cup of coffee, into the grinds, brew, and that’s it. You now have delicious pumpin spiced coffee and it took only seconds longer than brewing a regular cup of coffee. Simple enough, right? Now, if you want something a tad more involved and authentic, then here’s a recipe/method for making your own latte at home.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe

  • 3-5 scoops of loose coffee grinds (or enough to make two cups of coffee)
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • milk, to taste
  • sugar, to taste

Essentially, you need everything you would normally use for making two cups of coffee. As mentioned, prepare your ground coffee, and put it in the filter paper, ready for brewing. Add in the pumpkin pie spice, and mix it a bit so it’s well blended. Begin brewing your coffee.

Meanwhile, pour enough milk into the bottom of your mug/cup/thermos/what have you, to satiate your desire for creaminess. Don’t use too little, as it’ll end up burning instead of frothing. About 1/2″ to 1″ deep of milk at the bottom of your mug is good enough. Place whatever you’re preparing your coffee in, in the microwave, and heat it for about one minute. The milk should be hot and steamy (sorry for the sexual innuendo) when it comes out, but not too bubbly, since boiling it will change its consistency.

Remove the hot milk from the microwave and use either a whisk or fork or anything you have for beating mixtures to froth the milk. To do this, you just sorta need to whip it really fast. My favorite way of accomplishing this is by placing the utensil between your palms and rolling it between your palms quickly. You can do it other ways too, but this one works the fastest and easiest. Once it becomes white and frothy and thick (again, sorry, it’s unavoidable) just add in your freshly brewed coffee and sugar to taste. Stir, and voila. What’d that take you four minutes tops?

Also if you serve it in a pumpkin mug it tastes even MORE like pumpkin pie lattes.*

Also if you serve it in a pumpkin mug it tastes even MORE like pumpkin pie lattes.*


Just as with the “Egg MegMuffin”, you’re saving yourself both money AND time by preparing these franchise staples at home. Plus they taste better and are better for you, considering you know exactly what’s going into them. Also something blah blah anti-corporations Starbucks gun-control etc… I don’t know, they taste good and are easy to make, who cares. There ya go. Go make some for you and your hipster friends, they’ll give you 5 mustaches out of 5.


Posted on October 1, 2013, in Cheat Codes and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.


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