September 29, 2011

Pumpkin Latte: Starbucks vs. Dunkin Donuts

Fall is my favorite season, by far.  I love the crispness in the air, the changing leaves, the celebrations: my wedding anniversary, Thanksgiving, and coming soon: my son's birthday!  But really, fall wouldn't be fall without the flavors and aromas of the season... crisp freshly picked apples, butternut squash, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin.  I very much enjoy pumpkin... Every year, I look forward to making and enjoying pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, pumpkin donuts, and even a sipping on a Pumpkin Latte.

Before this year, I had never really thought about it.  Fall comes, Starbucks advertises, and I obey... wandering into my local Starbucks for a seasonal "must-have", a Pumpkin-Spice Latte.

This year, though, perhaps due to my reduced caffeine intake... perhaps due to the extra time I've had on my hands, and my new-found baby induced budget, I decided to be somewhat skeptical.  Do I really like Pumpkin-Spice Lattes, or is it just habit?? Are they really worth the $4.55 that Starbucks charges?? Does Dunkin Donuts :gasp: make a better latte??  I wanted to find out.  So, I, (Brielle), enlisted the help of my husband (Matt), and my mother (Gina) and we had a taste test.

First, let me start by saying, I really expected Starbucks to win.  I had never had a latte from Dunkin Donuts before this taste test.  While I prefer Dunkin Donuts for some things: coffee, iced coffee, donuts, and breakfast foods.  I look to Starbucks to fill my craving for espresso drinks and other specialty items: the Caffe Americano, Cinnamon Dolce Latte, Caramel Macchiato, Peppermint Hot Chocolate and a modified Caramel Apple Spice are among my favorites.  Basically, Dunkin Donuts for everyday, Starbucks as a luxury.

Here are the results:

"Sample A": Grande Pumpkin-Spice Latte with skim milk, no whipped cream.

B: Earthy, spiced pumpkin flavor and aroma. Almost no coffee flavor, sweet. Nice, rich caramel fall color.
M: Earthy, tasted like biting into a pumpkin with a slightly sweet finish. Not much coffee flavor.
G: Very pumpkin-y. Coffee flavor too mild. Too sweet.

Dunkin Donuts:
"Sample B": Medium Pumpkin Latte with skim milk, no whipped cream.

B: Pumpkin flavor very artificial tasting, sweet aroma.  No coffee flavor, tasted more like warm milk with hint of artificial pumpkin.
M: Very milky, mild, not much pumpkin or coffee flavor.
G: Mild pumpkin flavor. Watered-down coffee flavor.


B: Although I preferred Starbucks' latte in pumpkin taste, this is one fall tradition that I think I will be giving up.  Neither latte was very satisfying.  Both left me wanting more coffee.  Starbucks is definitely still my go-to for espresso drinks, but I think I'll stick to their other offerings.  I don't think that I'll be ordering another latte from Dunkin Donuts.
M: As a scotch and red wine drinker, I enjoyed the intricate, earthy tones of Starbucks.  I would order a Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks again.  I would not try another latte from Dunkin Donuts.
G: Surprised! Love coffee, love pumpkin, but "two rights went wrong". Didn't like either.  Both lacked coffee strength and neither were spiced to conjure up fall.

So, there you have it!  What are your favorite fall drinks?  Any recipes, stories, or suggestions you want to share?  If so, please post a comment!


  1. The pumpkin flavor at Dunkin seems to come out better in a regular coffee rather than a latte. :)

  2. The pumpkin flavor at Dunkin tastes better in a regular coffee than a latte. Nice post!!