Pumpkin, spice, and everything nice

A guide to nearby coffee shops’ fall drink options


Sophomore McKayley Herr enjoys a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee on a September morning before classes. Herr and her friends stopped for a morning treat before a long day of school work.

With the start of September comes the return of everyone’s favorite fall drinks. Luckily, one does not have to go far from school to get their hands on some of the most popular seasonal beverages. Black Rock Coffee Bar, Starbucks, and Dunkin’ Donuts are local and provide a wide selection of choices. 

Black Rock is within walking distance of campus and has four unique fall drinks this year. The first is the Pumpkin Blondie, which is a twist on the usual Caramel Blondie the company offers. This was one of the drinks that I tried, and when I did I found that in comparison to most fall coffees the pumpkin flavoring was much more natural and understated. While this set the drink apart, it also meant the pumpkin taste disappeared about halfway through my cup. The subtle white chocolate and pumpkin flavors combined with the soft, almost blended texture make the drink perfect for anyone looking for a light coffee with just a hint of fall. 

Black Rock also offers a Salted Caramel Chai, which incorporates caramel syrup into a normal chai tea latte, a Candied Cranberry FUEL, which is an almond, pomegranate, and cranberry flavored version of the company’s popular energy drink, and a Caramel Apple Smoothie, which combines ice cream and green apple base and is topped off with caramel drizzle and whipped cream. Both the Pumpkin Blondie and the Salted Caramel Chai can be made iced, hot, blended, or coffeeless and pricing ranges from $6- $6.30 (small), but will change depending on customizations and sizes.

The nearest Starbucks is only a short four minute drive away from school and offers three of its well-known fall beverages this season. The menu begins with the famed Pumpkin Spice Latte, which will be celebrating 19 years in stores this season. According to the company, the renowned drink is made up of, “Espresso and steamed milk with pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg flavors, topped with whipped cream.” Next is the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew, which is a take on the normal vanilla cold brew served year-round, that incorporates the signature pumpkin cream cold foam and pumpkin spice topping. 

The menu finishes with the Apple Crisp Oatmilk Macchiato that can be served hot or iced. The drink uses the Starbuck Blonde Espresso mix in combination with oatmilk, warm spices, apple syrup, and brown sugar. Although still delicious, I was left a little disappointed after trying this drink. It is creamy and the spices compliment each other nicely, but once the syrup is well mixed, the apple flavor pretty much disappears and is masked by the oatmilk. However, the drink still captures the warmth of the fall season and is a good fit for those who do not want to wait until Thanksgiving to taste apple pie. Starbucks’ fall menu (grande size) ranges in price from $4.45-$5.25, but once again will vary with sizes and changes to the original recipe.

Last, but not least is Dunkin’ Donuts, which is only a six minute drive away from campus and currently offers three original fall beverages. Similarly to Starbucks, Dunkin’ offers a Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew and a Pumpkin Spice Signature Latte. However, Dunkin’s take on the PSL includes vanilla flavoring and caramel drizzle, making the recipe a little bit more complex than Starbucks’s original. 

I ordered a variation of the Pumpkin Spice Signature Latte, subbing out normal milk for almond milk and removing the toppings, and to be honest it was difficult to finish. The pumpkin flavoring was overly sweet but left behind a spicy, almost bitter aftertaste. Although I am not sure how much of a difference it would make, I would recommend ordering this drink in its original form to cut some of the bite it holds. 

New this year to the Dunkin’ menu is the Nutty Pumpkin Coffee which is described as, “Dunkin’s Original Blend Iced Coffee with a delicious pumpkin spice swirl, hazelnut flavor shot, and cream fro a reimagined take on classic pumpkin flavors.” Through Sept. 13, a medium size of any of the three fall drinks can be ordered for only $3.

Coffee shops near campus are offering a wide selection of options to help you get into the fall spirit this year. Scan our QR code around campus and let us know which of the drinks mentioned is your favorite!