Starbucks pumpkin spice latte season is officially in full swing — this year with real pumpkin.
Fans wait impatiently until the drink’s return every year in early September and flock to get that syrupy taste with pumpkin pie spices like cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.
But look, Starbucks is expensive.
A pumpkin spice latte in New York City costs $US4.45 for a tall, $US5.25 for a grande, and $US5.65 for a venti. That’s an average of $US1-$US2 more than a regular Starbucks latte.
So if you’re obsessed with the drink and money is tight, you may want a DIY version.
We decided to not only find the best recipe, but calculated that you could save as much as $US274 a year by making your own.
Here’s how we figured that out:
First, we found a recipe that was extremely similar to the Starbucks version. Food Network Kitchen said its 4.5-star recipe makes one drink, takes 10 minutes, and includes milk, pumpkin purée, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla extract, espresso, and whipped cream.
It’s also really easy to make, requiring only a coffee machine and a microwave to heat the milk and other ingredients before whisking vigorously to make them frothy. Sold.
Next, we calculated just how many days pumpkin spice latte season typically lasts.
The annual beverage went on sale this year on September 8th — though some people were able to get it before hand, but we’re not counting them — and will end around the time red cup season starts on November 5.
That means this year’s PSL season will last 58 days.
Of course, it could go longer depending on how much pumpkin spice syrup your local Starbucks has on hand since they will keep making it for customers while supplies are available. But for now, let’s assume you have 58 days to get the drink.
We’ll also assume for the sake of this exercise that you’re a pumpkin spice latte addict and need that fix every day. If you’re buying a tall every day for the entire season it will cost you $US258; a grande a day will set you back roughly $US304; and a venti a day will set you back around $US328.
And that’s before tax.
Next, we figured out how many of the ingredients you’d need to buy during the 58 day span to make the Food Network’s recipe every day, instead:
- 1 cup of milk — There are 16 cups of milk in a gallon, so you’ll need to buy four gallon jugs of milk throughout the 58 days.
- 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree — A 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree has 30 tablespoons, so you’ll need two cans of pumpkin puree.
- 1 tablespoon sugar — A four pound bag of sugar will last you the entire span of time.
- 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice — You could make your own pumpkin pie spice (recipe here), but your grocery store also sells 1-2 ounce ready-made containers. In a 1.12 ounce spice container, you’ll have a little under 7 teaspoons worth, so you’ll need two of these.
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract — There are 24 teaspoons in a four ounce bottle, which means you’ll only need one bottle of vanilla extract.
- 1/4 cup hot espresso or strong brewed coffee — This one will vary depending on how strong you like your coffee, but let’s say you use roughly 6-8 grams of ground coffee beans per cup. A one pound bag has over 450 grams worth of beans, so you should only need one bag for your pumpkin spice lattes.
- Whipped cream for serving — The average whipped cream canister has 80 servings, so you should be good with one (unless you really love whipped cream in which case don’t let me stop you from buying two).
So, here’s your grocery list: 4 gallon jugs of milk, 2 cans of pumpkin puree, 1 bag of sugar, 2 pumpkin pie spice containers, 1 bottle of vanilla extract, and 1 bag of coffee espresso beans.
We looked up the ingredients cost in New York on Instacart and the coffee on Starbucks and calculated that you would spend $US54 on groceries for your pumpkin spice latte ingredients over 58 days.
That means you’ll save $US204 if you’re buying tall pumpkin spice lattes, $US250 if you’re buying a daily grande, and $US274 if you buy the venti.
So is it worth it?
$US274 is a lot of cash, and if you’re truly obsessed with Starbucks pumpkin spice latte and don’t mind spending around 10 minutes a day preparing the drink, it’s definitely worth it to make your own.
But if you have better things to do with your day and don’t mind spending the money, then go forth and order at Starbucks.
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