Pumpkin Spice Latte: Buy It vs. Make It
By now, we’ve all heard the tired old financial saw about how if we took the $2 we spend on a latte each day and put it in savings, we’d have a nice little nest egg by the end of the year. In fact, that tired old saw is so old, you’d be hard-pressed to find a $2 latte anymore, and the $520 “nest egg” would barely pay your past-due cell phone bill, am I right?
These days, the seasonal treat that is the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte is $3.95 for a “tall” (which is the “small” 12-oz size), or 41 cents an ounce. And oh how tempting it is as we roll into these autumn months, when an omnipresent pumpkin filling starts oozing from the most unexpected places. (It’s really got to be awful for someone who hates pumpkin. Then again, who hates pumpkin? Satan, maybe.)
So can we do better than $4 for this autumnal treat? Turns out it’s pretty easy to approximate, so the answer lies in your willingness to compromise. Is it the same? No. Is it way cheaper? Well … no spoilers.
To make this, I took a look at the available DIY hacks online and laughed and laughed. Like I’m going to put anything in a saucepan or a blender! I don’t go to Starbucks for the scenery, people — I am just that lazy! Instead, I pulled out this handy blender bottle I got for my husband for his morning-commute smoothie extravaganza, loaded all the ingredients into it, and shook it like a Polaroid picture. It worked like a charm. I think you’d do just as well with an immersion blender or a whisk.
Because of the high milk-to-coffee ratio, it was a bit chilly, which I actually prefer, but a trip through the microwave fixed that up pronto and I was sipping a pumpkin-spice latte (sorta) in my own kitchen without having to wait on line or witness my name being mangled — EYME — on the side of my cup.
So here’s the rundown:
Okay, what?! The big unpleasant surprise here lies in the 2 tablespoons of vanilla. No matter how I sliced it — using soy milk, organic milk, regular milk — the $3.30 for 2 tablespoons of vanilla made this colossally more expensive than the Starbucks version: a whopping 72 cents per ounce, versus the 41 cents per ounce from the barista. Ridonk.
Now, if you dispense with the vanilla and get (or make) your own pumpkin Torani syrup (52 cents an ounce, 9 cents for the 1 teaspoon recommended here), you’re only talking 15 cents an ounce — much better. So if you’re willing to invest in a bottle of kind of ridiculous sugary syrup, then yes, you can have pumpkin spice latte at home. You’re just going to be having it a lot.
The effort is really nil, as I said. Except for having to track down or make the syrup or selling a kidney so you can buy all that vanilla.
It’s only really good if you love milky coffee. I don’t have an espresso maker at home, so I used strong coffee, but it still was more like a coffee smoothie than a latte. When I tried adding more coffee, it just tasted watery — the coffee couldn’t stand up to the other flavors. If you have an espresso maker, you might have a different experience, but this was meh.
Buy It. Let’s face it: You’re really only going to be able to take a couple of these rich, sweet treats before the end of the season anyway. You’re a sucker for the little picture in the milk. And the mangled name is kind of funny.
What’s the verdict? Check out all Amy’s Buy It vs. Make It comparisons!