Welcome to the first week of Fall! Time to say hello to colorful leaves and lavishly scented candles (not on campus, of course), unpack those comfy sweaters, knit hats and long jackets, and start enjoying the literal tastes of Fall. From fruits that produce rich flavors when baked or cooked like apples, butternut squash and pumpkin to spices and saps that add a dash of a taste so firmly associated with Fall that it’s nearly impossible to separate the two, like cinnamon, apple and … pumpkin spice?

When Fall first begins, stores, cafes and restaurants are all overwhelmed with requests for pumpkin spice. Pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin spice tea, pumpkin spice candles, pumpkin spice waffles and even pumpkin spice scratch and sniff stickers. What most don’t realize is that the vast majority of these delights lack one major ingredient: pumpkin. In fact, according to their information pages, Starbucks only began adding pumpkin, in the form of a dash of pumpkin puree, to their famed Pumpkin Spice Latte in 2015, and this is one of the only products actually containing pumpkin.

So, what is pumpkin spice? That flavor that everyone goes crazy for each Fall — and, if people are being honest, the rest of the year as well. It’s another name for pumpkin pie spice. As in, the spices a baker might add to their pumpkin pie before baking it, including cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. On the plus side, this means that adding that pumpkin spice flavor to your favorite coffee blend is easy no matter the time of year — there’s no need to wait for Dunkin to start serving your favorite latte. On the negative side, this means that this favorite “Fall Flavor” would taste the same at any time of the year and so isn’t really a Fall flavor. A point that traitorous humans like me who don’t like pumpkin spice can easily complain about is yet another commercial featuring the newest Dunkin/Starbucks/Target brand Pumpkin Spice Pastry/Coffee/Tea/Latte/Candle that interrupts our favorite shows.

Sadly, this information is not going to convince the majority to set aside their pumpkin spice obsession to enjoy true Fall products that only reach their richest state during the fall season — such as apple, cinnamon, butternut squash, pumpkin and maple. As such, I’m going to get this over with early. Enjoy your pumpkin pie spice and look out for other, true Fall recipes as the season continues.

Pumpkin Spice Latte — with REAL Pumpkin


½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 ½ tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon nutmeg

¾ teaspoon ground allspice

¾ teaspoon ground cloves

1 tablespoon pureed pumpkin

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 cup whole milk

1/2 cup strong brewed coffee (or 2 shots of espresso)

  1.       Make the pumpkin pie spice by mixing the ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cloves together.
  2.       Put the pureed pumpkin in a saucepan over medium heat with ½ teaspoon of the pumpkin spice mixture (store the rest for a future cup or to use for other recipes). Cook for two minutes, stirring continuously.
  3.       Mix in the sugar until the mixture has the consistency of a thick syrup and begins to bubble. Stir in the milk and vanilla until the milk is warm, then remove from the heat and either stir vigorously or use a hand blender until the milk froths. Pour on top of your brewed coffee and serve sprinkled with more pumpkin spice and a dash of whipped cream.

Enjoy! And look out for more Fall recipes in future Mirror issues!

About The Author

-- Executive Editor Emeritus -- English Literature & Film, Television, and Media Arts

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