A Cheaper, Healthier, Pumpkin Spice Latte

And you can get it AT Starbucks!

healthy pumpkin spice latte

This is not your coconut milk, vegan, special food store, insert allergy word, complicated version of a pumpkin spice latte that you need all sorts of special things for to make at home. If you are that person, I can’t help you, but there are lots of blogs out there that can. I’m just happy that my genes dictate that I can digest dairy because beyond being a picky eater, my patience can’t handle other food specifications.

The type of cheaper, healthier, pumpkin spice latte I’m sharing with you, you can get AT STARBUCKS.

Let’s just chat about the PSL a little bit real quick. I was just looking up the nutrition stats and O.M.G. A grande (16 oz or medium as normal coffee shops call it) with 2% milk and whipped cream has (brace yourself) 50 GRAMS OF SUGAR. 5-0. Fifty. As in DOUBLE the daily recommended amount of sugar for women according to the American Heart Association.

By changing the milk (coconut, almond, soy, skim, etc.) there is still between 40-51 grams of sugar depending on your milk of choice. Take out the whipped cream and the range is still 38-49 grams of sugar for a grande. So let’s go down to a tall (12oz). Still taking out the whipped cream, the grams of sugar with the milks offered the range of sugar is still 28-38 grams. So even a small PSL with no whipped cream and the lowest sugar milk (which is almond by the way in this case from what they use and report on their site), is still MORE than your daily recommended amount of sugar. YIKES. You can check the nutrition facts with your version of a PSL here.

I’m not hating on the ‘Bucks, I’m just giving you all a little heads up about one of the most popular coffee drinks of the year. I actually don’t like the pumpkin spice latte as it is anyway so that was never a problem for me. It is too sweet for me and I’m not a fan of whipped cream, so I made up my own version that just happened to be healthier and cheaper.

How I get my healthier version of a pumpkin spice latte, which just happens to be way cheaper too is:

+ Get a regular drip coffee, which runs around $2.

+ I personally get the tall size (12 oz) but I ask for it in a grande cup (16 oz) because I like to add a generous amount of half & half. Also gives you extra room in the cup to prevent spills while walking.

+ Ask for a HALF PUMP of the pumpkin flavor. Now, because you aren’t even asking for a full pump, they will often give it to you for free. Sometimes they’ll charge you for the pump, but it’s still cheaper than the latte.

Note: If you look at the PSL ingredient list, there is more of the pumpkin spice sauce in the drink than espresso, and the first ingredient in that sauce is — you guessed it — SUGAR. So, by only getting a 1/2 pump, you are dramatically cutting down on that sugar. I think (although I’m sure one of you knows for sure) that a grande has 4 pumps of the PSL sauce. 4 pumps! So even if you ask for just 1 pump (versus my 1/2 pump) you are dramatically cutting down on the sugar.

+ Then you can add whatever type of milk you like from the milk station, or if you need a special one that you have to ask for, of course do that. Obviously there is sugar in milk, so that’s on you, but it’s not much.

+ I also like to add some of the cinnamon and nutmeg and even vanilla powder at the milk stand — really tops off that PSL feel. Again, if you look at the PSL ingredient list, they add vanilla syrup, so if you just add the vanilla powder that is free at the milk stand, versus getting a pump of vanilla syrup you are saving yourself the cost of the pump and the grams of sugar that is in the syrup.

About that milk: I personally love half & half and cannot have coffee without it. No skim, no 2% for me. I want half & half. I probably use 4 tablespoons, which is only 2 grams of sugar. But, because I only get a half pump of that pumpkin spice sauce, I’d guess that my sugar intake is only 5 grams or less from the sauce, totaling my healthier pumpkin spice latte at an estimated 7 grams of sugar or less. And honestly, I usually don’t finish it, so I probably only consume 5 grams of the sugar when I get my healthier, cheaper version of a PSL from Starbucks.

The trick to keeping is cheap is DO NOT ASK FOR A PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE. Ask for coffee and the pump of the PSL. It is SO MUCH CHEAPER. If you ask for a PSL but then say no whip, and only 1 pump of the sauce, then you will still pay the $5+ even though you aren’t getting all the stuff in it.

So, use my tricks to find your perfect version of a healthier (and cheaper!) pumpkin spice latte. It’s not really a latte because it’s coffee instead of espresso, but it’s sooooo similar. It’s really all about that pumpkin spice flavor. Report back and tell me what you think! And dish your PSL thoughts in the comments! Love? Hate? Make your own at home?


Photo by Annie Spratt via Unsplash, edited by Meg Biram