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What is Behind the Hype of Autumn? Pumpkin Spice Latte?

So many of us gravitate toward autumn’s pull; we fall under its magic spell — and it’s understandable. We can immerse ourselves in beautiful apple orchards and pumpkin patches during the day, and bake delicious pies at night. We can curl up on the couch with a book when it’s stormy and absorb all that’s cozy, with a capital C. We can walk outside and feel awake, pining over nature’s eye-candy and the red and orange trees that sparkle in the sunlight.

And while we relish these lovely scenes, what’s under the surface?

Why does the fall season generate so much, well, hype?

Autumn signifies mental wanderlust and fickleness, as the leaves alter their green for vibrant colors and cover our ground. It’s almost as if these months allow us to change, alongside the array of temperatures, which range from an odd warmth to a pertinent chill that requires a heavier coat. It’s as if fall gives us an invitation to be okay with flux; to be okay with uncertainty.

Although I’m not a coffee connoisseur, I do get the general appeal of pumpkin spice. I’ve even asked baristas if it was possible to insert a bit of its charm into my tea. And according to the Starbucks Newsroom, this year marks the tenth anniversary of the highly beloved Pumpkin Spice Latte; 200 million beverages have been purchased since it initially made its debut in 2003.

“We hear from our customers year-round that drinking their first Pumpkin Spice Latte is when they know fall has arrived,” Cliff Burrows, Starbucks Group President, said. “There is always so much excitement and anticipation for the return of Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte each year, and it has become the most popular seasonal beverage of all time.”

This trademark espresso is comprised of freshly steamed milk, creamy pumpkin-flavored sauce and seasonal spices, including nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and clove. The latte is complete with a Starbucks pumpkin spice topping and whipped cream, though it’s customized for customers’ preferences. Many independent coffee cafes have adopted the Pumpkin Spice Latte as well, eager to develop their own version of this incredibly popular drink.

The latte lovers flock to coffee havens to satisfy their cravings — and oh, how these cravings run rampant. But what is it about the Pumpkin Spice Latte that induces such adamant praise — why do so many become true blue pumpkin spice fanatics this season?

I presume, on a superficial level, that consumers may simply adore its taste and enjoy sipping on a hot liquid on a crisp day. Yet, could it also be that the beverage offers a mouth-watering variety of flavors that sync with autumn’s fluid nature? Maybe the Pumpkin Spice Latte is sought after because it represents the underlying essence of autumn itself.

We kick piles of leaves with our feet; some are slushy and wet from rain, and some contain a crunchy kind of texture — one that we like to hear every time our shoes make their indentations. And so it goes. We smile to ourselves as we transition from one pile to the next, because that’s what the buzz of autumn is really about. We’re able to transition, too.

What is Behind the Hype of Autumn? Pumpkin Spice Latte?


Lauren Suval

Lauren Suval studied print journalism and psychology at Hofstra University, and she is a writer based in New York. Her work has been featured on Thought Catalog, Catapult Community, and other online publications. Lauren's e-book “Coping With Life’s Clutter” and her latest book, “The Art Of Nostalgia,” a collection of personal essays, can both be found on Amazon. She loves to be followed on Twitter @LaurenSuval.


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APA Reference
Suval, L. (2018). What is Behind the Hype of Autumn? Pumpkin Spice Latte?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 15, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/what-is-behind-the-hype-of-autumn-pumpkin-spice-latte/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 24 Oct 2013)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.