Pumpkin Spice Latte Throwdown: Starbucks Versus McDonald's

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Photo by Molly Dunn
Which PSL is the best?
I have always been a fan of the Pumpkin Spice Latte, or PSL, from Starbucks. It's the first seasonal beverage to arrive after a summer of iced coffees and frappuccinos, and it always gets me in the spirit of fall.

However, this fall, another contender might be giving Starbucks a run for its money with its version of a pumpkin spice latte. Yes, my friends, the PSL challenger I speak of is McDonald's. Crucify me all you want, but McDonald's knows how to make a good cup of coffee. The McCafé drinks (hot and iced) always satisfy my caffeine cravings. No, it's not the best cup of joe, but it sure is a good one.

After seeing a commercial for the new McDonald's pumpkin spice lattes, I decided to find out who makes the best PSL: Starbucks or Mickey D's.

Let's start with the famous Starbucks rendition. A PSL from the coffee giant is everything you hope for in an autumnal coffee drink. As soon as you bring the cup close to your mouth, you're hit with a sensational waft of pumpkin spices -- the true scent of the season. Even before you take a sip, you can't help smiling -- the aroma of the coffee alone is comforting.

But the best part is the first sip. It's a combination of thick and sweet whipped cream topped with powdered pumpkin spice and smooth, creamy steamed milk perfectly blended with the signature espresso, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. All in all, this drink is pure bliss.

Now let's talk about the McDonald's version. On first whiff, the McDonald's McCafe PSL is strikingly similar to the one from Starbucks. The aroma of spiced pumpkin wafts from the lid's opening, but once you take a sip, you know it's not Starbucks.


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10 comments
theadamkomar
theadamkomar

I seem to have stumbled upon the International Press. Can someone point me in the direction of the Houston Press? I'd like an opinion on local coffee.

Kristina Bush
Kristina Bush

It's work spending just the one extra dollar or so at Starbucks for the pumpkin latte because McDonald's version is Not Good.

Rayford Sawdust
Rayford Sawdust

How very corporate of you, go to Inversion, support local business. Wake up!

Katherine Dwyer Raney
Katherine Dwyer Raney

JavaCakes has a great PSL! McD's is not a latte, you can replicate their PSL at home by adding pumpkin pie spice to your coffee grounds.

Nicole Ponder Bradford
Nicole Ponder Bradford

Really? I was extremely excited when I saw McD's had a PSL, then I tasted it.... :(

jess Orz
jess Orz

I think Inversion Coffee House does it best.

Bruce_Are
Bruce_Are topcommenter

Starbucks is the McDonald's of coffee. I'm clearly in the minority here but I find Starbucks coffee to be over-roasted regardless of whether they call it medium or dark.

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