Welcome to Day 3 of Tag Sale Tastes’ Pumpkinpalooza!
Today, with some hesitancy, I tried Starbucks Via Instant Pumpkin Spice Latte:
So what if it was 90 degrees out? The package offered hints of “crisp autumn air,” and that sounds pretty good right about now in Houston.
Starbucks has teased fans of its Pumpkin Spice Latte (“PSL”) with the promise of real pumpkin in it this year, but that must just apply to in-store PSLs, unless “natural flavors” includes pumpkin.
Inside the box are 5 packets of powdered mix:
Preparation is simple — open the packet, pour it into a mug, add 8 ounces of hot water, stir, and “enjoy.”
Here’s what the powdered mix looks like:
I want to stop here and say that this product is a rip-off of General Foods International Coffees, popular in the 1970s and 1980s, and whose target audience was “middle-aged women who love to laugh and reminisce . . . and drink instant coffee.” The biggest differences are that General Foods did it better, and Starbucks’ target audience, I have come to understand, appears to be white girls in yoga pants.
The first thing I noticed after pouring the contents of the packet into the mug was the overwhelming scent — I wouldn’t call it an aroma. It made me a little nauseous, kind of like the mom who sat in front of me in the auditorium at a recent school function — she showed up late and had doused herself with perfume, which I really resented as I sat there with my eyes burning and trying not to sneeze. The smell of the latte mix was very sweet and very odd, and not at all autumnal.
Forging ahead, I added hot water, stirred, and sat back to “enjoy” my instant PSL.
Alas, enjoyment was not to be had. I’ll get right to it — I thought this was awful. It didn’t taste like pumpkin or spice, more like burnt hot cocoa with curdled milk. It almost had a cheese-like note. It was, quite frankly, disgusting.
As I tried to get the awful taste out of my mouth left behind by this witches’ brew, I couldn’t help but wonder, how did PSL become a thing? I have to assume that the in-store version, personally prepared by a Starbucks barista, has to be better. And so, one day soon, I will force myself to borrow a pair of yoga pants and go into a Starbucks and stand in line for an eternity and try to understand why a small beverage is called a tall beverage and order a PSL, so that I can try to understand how it is that this drink created a nationwide craze for all things pumpkin spice.
Rating: 1 pumpkin.