The first hint of fall is in the air as Starbucks gets ready to bring back the Pumpkin Spice Latte. And this time, it's being made with real pumpkin.
"After hearing from customers and partners about ingredients, we took another look at this beverage and why we created it so many years ago," writes Starbucks product manager Peter Dukes in a company blog post. "It was simple - espresso, perfectly steamed milk, warm fall spices with delicious flavor of pumpkin pie that reminds you of the cool, crisp days of autumn."
The new recipe also cuts caramel coloring.
The chain's decision to make the switch reveals the effects of growing pressure for restaurant chains from Taco Bell to Subway to cut preservatives and artificial flavors from the menu. Starbucks is not isolated in its PSL-specific efforts: Panera Bread, the first national chain to make its pumpkin spice latte with real pumpkin, announced today it will be serving an updated "Real Pumpkin Latte" without any artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, preservatives or high fructose corn syrup.
Last August, food blogger Vani Hari attacked Starbucks for including Caramel Color Level IV, artificial flavors and preservatives in the Pumpkin Spice Latte, while failing to include any real pumpkin. At the time, a Starbucks spokesperson said that the coffee chain was in an open dialogue with Hari and actively looking at phasing caramel coloring out over time. While Hari criticized Starbucks last year for failing to provide a timeline for making the changes, it looks like the company took criticism to heart.
Starbucks has not yet announced when the PSL will be back on the menu, a sure sign that autumn is upon us. According to Dukes, recipes and ingredients have begun to ship to stores. Last year, the drink hit menus nationwide on Sept. 2.