When the temperature inches away from the stifling summer highs and the first leaves drop from the trees, one sentence takes over our Pinterest boards and Facebook feeds: “It’s pumpkin spice latte time.”
Starbucks singlehandedly started an autumnal revolution when it introduced its pumpkin spice latte in 2003, bringing the pumpkin from decorative gourd to full-on cultural phenomenon. The latte spawned a league of loyal devotees, as well as dozens of imitators from nearly every coffee shop chain in the country.
The pumpkin spice latte was born because Starbucks executives were looking for more seasonal flavors to follow up on the success of the peppermint mocha latte. Most of the ideas for a fall latte focused on Halloween candy flavors like chocolate and caramel, but one brave product manager, Peter Dukes, believed the taste of pumpkin, rather than candy, was best suited to fall — and history was made.
CNN has gone so far as to suggest that Starbucks is responsible for a boom not just in pumpkin spice lattes but in pumpkin farms around the country. Acreage in U.S. pumpkin farming has increased by a third in the decade since America fell in love with the pumpkin spice latte, and sales of pumpkin flavored foods as a whole increased by 14 percent last year alone.
This pumpkin popularity has brought on another increase: our waistlines. There may be nothing inherently unhealthy about pumpkins, but Americans seem to view the gourd as a base flavor best served with sugar for candies, pies, and above all, super-sweet, whipped-cream-topped coffee.
How much are our pumpkin lattes costing us calorie-wise? To find out, we’ve ranked top coffee shop chains’ versions based on the nutritional information posted on the companies’ websites. All lattes listed are the large size with whole milk and without whipped cream (unless otherwise specified).
1. Caribou pumpkin ginger latte
710 calories, 9 grams fat, 330 mg sodium, 127 grams carbs, 116 grams sugar
This 710-calorie monster packs way more sugar than it does pumpkin. Believe it or not, you could have a Caribou Coffee sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast biscuit for fewer calories than you’d drink in this latte.
2. Dunkin’ Donuts pumpkin latte
470 calories, 13 grams fat, 250 mg sodium, 71 grams sugar
Dunkin’ offers three choices when it comes to pumpkin lattes: regular, crème brûlée, and mocha, but no matter which you chose, the nutritional information stays more or less the same — and by “the same,” we mean terrifying. There’s more sugar in a Dunkin’ Donuts pumpkin latte than in three (yes, three!) of their chocolate caramel donuts.
3. Starbucks pumpkin spice latte
440 calories, 8 grams fat, 280 mg sodium, 63 grams carbs
Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte is far and away the fan favorite for best seasonal latte. Unfortunately, you’d be better off ordering one of the chain's pumpkin cream cheese muffins, which has 90 fewer calories.
4. Peet’s large pumpkin latte
375 calories, 13 grams fat, 215 mg sodium, 50 grams carbs, 47 grams sugar
There are fewer carbs in a gooey, bready Peet’s sticky bun than in a Peet’s pumpkin latte. It’s a pretty tough choice deciding which is more satisfying.
5. Einstein Brothers pumpkin latte
370 calories, 10 grams fat, 65 mg sodium, 59 grams carbs, 54 grams sugar
When there are nearly twice as many carbs in your coffee as there are in your bagel, you may need to rethink your latte choices.
See what other pumpkin lattes are the least healthy for you to order.
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