In the 16 years since Starbucks debuted its Pumpkin Spice Latte in just about 100 stores, the autumnally-inclined beverage had become a globally-anticipated sensation and an annual demarcation of the return of fall. Of course, sometimes that return comes in August, as it does this year when PSLs hit Starbucks stores on their earliest launch date ever, Tuesday, August 27, 2019. If you’re one of those people who love to rag on the return of the PSL as being way too early for a drink that’s piping hot and full of pumpkin pie spices, well, this next bit isn’t for you. But if you’re really just taking umbrage with the “hot drink” part, and are all-in on pumpkin spice everything as soon as you can get it, one: you’re not alone, and two: Starbucks is rolling out a new drink alongside its classic latte that’s as summer-ready as a fall drink can get: Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew.
The cold brew-based beverage is Starbucks’ first new pumpkin-themed drink offering since the PSL, and combines the on-trend base of cold brew with the chain’s classic pumpkin spice syrup (now with real pumpkin!) and some of it’s newest innovations. Per the brand, the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew is “made with Starbucks Cold Brew, vanilla, and finished with a pumpkin cream cold foam and a dusting of pumpkin spice topping.” (That cold foam concept was first introduced last year, and essentially puts a stout beer-like head atop your drink.)
I tried the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew at an early preview event and was surprised to find what might be described as a less-decadent take on the PSL which, to me, is a good thing. It’s still creamy with added smoothness from the cold foam and a rounded flavor from the vanilla. And has those distinct PSL notes, of course. But it’s not as sweet or dessert-like as some of the more fantastical Starbucks creations can be (we’re looking at you, Unicorn Frappuccino), so it feels like a lighter take on an iced PSL with the added kick of cold brew. It just might be the transition beverage PSL fans yearning for autumn at the end of August have been waiting for.
That’s not the only pumpkin product hitting Starbucks locations tomorrow: The Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin is making its comeback after leaving in 2017 and skipping last year, plus pumpkin spice scones and madeleines are on their way as well.
Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew and the PSL aren’t the only ways Starbucks is delivering on its signature fall flavor to coffee this year. Earlier this summer, the brand rolled out its first line of three Starbucks beverage-flavored creamers in grocery stores, quickly followed by, you guessed it, Pumpkin Spice Latte.