People may still be lounging in swimming pools and sporting flip-flops on September 1, but for many, the switch to fall happened Tuesday when Starbucks brought the iconic Pumpkin Spice Latte back to its menu. People love spending their hard-earned dollars on pumpkin-flavored seasonal foods (more than $600 million in 2018, reports Forbes), but PSL sales take things up a notch.
Since the Pumpkin Spice Latte debuted in 2003, the coffee company has roughly sold nearly 600 million PSLs, with an unexpected catch in this year’s release: a 4% increase in price (via CNN). The price hike may not stop people from buying the fall-inspired favorite, but it just might make them extra scrutinous of its flavor.
When the popular coffee chain announced the return of the PSL on Instagram this past Tuesday, the response from Starbucks goers was of unrelenting excitement. Some social media users stated that they already bought theirs that day, claiming the flavor was “delicious,” while others left comments like “already want number 2.” Among the sea of positive commentary, one user argued the flavor was “too spicy” this year. One or two unfavorable comments are to be expected with a drink this popular, but according to TikTokers, there may be more to take issue with regarding this year’s PSL.
A day after the drink’s release, one TikTok user posted a video of her recently purchased PSL with the caption, “Does anyone else think the pumpkin spice latte tastes weird this year?” With over 60,000 likes, the post went viral and stirred up a lot of discussion over Starbucks’ “new” recipe. The most-liked comment came from a barista who suggested people ask for “extra pumps,” since the pumpkin spice syrup comes with different extractors. Still, several users were adamant that the flavor was different thanks to a new recipe.
Someone described this year’s PSL as tasting as “herbal/earthy,” while another expressed concern that the color is “not as orange.” Starbucks did in fact admit to a change in its Pumpkin Spice Latte recipe — but that was back in 2015, when the coffee company began to add real pumpkin while also removing the use of caramel color (per USA Today). Customers are free to look at this year’s seasonal latte ingredients, which are posted on the Starbucks website.
The ingredients list may look the same as last year’s, but some Starbucks baristas even commented on the TikTok insisting that the new syrup seems watered down. One barista on Reddit claims the formula is different every year, which may be why a flavor difference has also been pointed out in years past on Twitter. This fall, some Starbucks fans may be choosing to save their money and make their own copycat version of the iconic Pumpkin Spice Latte at home.