A cup of Pumpkin Spice Latte

10 Coffee Hacks, Tips, Tricks, Pumpkin Spice Latte (Starbucks is Going to Miss You!)

Whenever I write about my love of coffee—especially Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte—which admittedly has turned me into a coffee snob, reader feedback is as enthusiastic as it is voluminous. I’m happy to know I’m not alone in my snobbery.

large pumpkin spice latte in paper cup

Many of you bring up interesting points—questions, too. Like what to do with brewed coffee that is no longer ideally fresh but too good to throw down the drain? Others want to know how to make your own cappuccino, lattes, and even the “steamer,” made popular by Starbucks—surprisingly containing no coffee at all.

Short of purchasing an espresso machine that uses high-pressure steam to make espresso and has a gizmo that steams the milk as well, there are ways we can improvise to create reasonable facsimiles of our favorite coffee drinks.

Contents

 

Popular Coffee Drink Lingo

Espresso

Both cappuccinos and lattes are typically made by forcing boiling water through finely-ground, super-dark roasted coffee beans. You can fake that by making your own very strong brewed coffee. BAM! Espresso!

Cappuccino

A cappuccino is an espresso-based coffee drink that originated in Italy and is traditionally prepared with steamed milk foam. Variations of the drink involve using cream instead of milk and flavoring with cinnamon or chocolate powder.

Caffè Latte

Your very strong coffee mixed about 50/50 with hot milk and then topped with froth (foam) makes for a very tasty latte. Experiment as necessary to find your ideal proportion of coffee to milk.

 

Steamer

A “steamer” is simply steamed milk plus your choice flavored syrup. Heat milk in the microwave or on the stovetop, making sure it does not come to a boil. Pour into a mug, stir in 2 to 3 tablespoons flavored syrup, to taste.

DIY flavored syrups

Coffee shop coffees taste so great because of those delicious syrups they add, but you can make them yourself and avoid expensive trips to the coffee shop.

All syrups have a base of 2 cups sugar plus 2 cups water in a saucepan, set over low heat. Stir constantly until the sugar completely dissolves. Add in vanilla extract, caramel, or mashed raspberries to taste, depending on the flavor of syrup you desire. Stir until combined. You’ll want to strain out the berry chunks for the raspberry syrup.

Caffè Mocha

A caffè mocha, also called mocaccino, is a chocolate-flavored variant of a caffè latte. Other commonly used spellings are mochaccino and also mochachino. Here’s a recipe for Caffè Mocha Mix.

Caffè Mocha Mix

Mix well, store in an airtight container.

To use: Stir about 3 teaspoons of mix into a hot, freshly brewed strong cup of coffee. Top with whipped cream, if desired.

Tips and Tricks

Leftover coffee

It’s not easy to toss excellent coffee down the drain simply because it is no longer ideally fresh—especially when it’s made from beans you’ve roasted yourself. Don’t. Pour it into ice cube trays and you’ll never drink watered-down iced coffee again.

Once frozen, pop the cubes into a zip-type bag to be stored in the freezer. Coffee cubes are ideal in place of ice for iced coffee and other summertime blended coffee drinks. Coffee cubes come in handy when a recipe calls for just a small amount of brewed coffee.

A true coffee addict will love cookies or brownies that use coffee instead of water in the recipe.

Cold brew

Cold-brewing your own coffee is both easy and cheap, and it offers a much different taste (less acidic) than hot-brewed coffee. To do it, soak ground coffee beans in water for 12 hours (overnight), and then strain out the grounds. You can either pour this coffee over ice and add cream and sweetener or heat it up in the microwave.

Reuse spent coffee grounds

Don’t throw those old coffee grounds away; there are many ways to reuse them. Old grounds are great fertilizer and pest control in the garden. They can also help improve your home, as you can use them to absorb food odors (make a small bundle using a used dryer sheet or coffee filter tied with twine for the refrigerator). You can make your own candles with the grounds at the bottom giving off that wonderful fragrance of coffee. Coffee grounds make an excellent exfoliant and hair treatment and mosquito repellant, too!

Just a pinch

Don’t suffer through bitter coffee. A pinch of salt added to the grounds before brewing counteracts the bitterness and gives coffee a smoother taste.

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Originally created by Starbucks, Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL) has developed a cult following. It is so popular, PSL even has its own Twitter account! The downside is that PSL is so stinkin’ expensive. And you have to go there, wait in line, order, then wait some more.

At more than—gulp!—$6.00 for a Starbuck’s venti PSL, that’s quite a price to pay! Now that the weather is turning crisp and fall-ish, I’m gearing up to make my own Pumpkin Spice Latte—cheaper, better, and faster. Join me?

The essential ingredient in PSL is “pumpkin spice.” Curiously, pumpkin spice has no pumpkin in it at all. It is simply a mix of the spices used to make pumpkin pie. As available as pumpkin pie spice is in the spice aisle of most supermarkets, it’s not exactly cheap!

To pull off this DIY project, you need three recipes—one for  Copycat Pumpkin Spice Latte, Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix, and Pumpkin Spice Syrup

Copycat Pumpkin Spice Latte

(Printable recipe card below)
  • 2 tablespoons canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice mix (below), plus more to garnish
  • freshly ground black pepper, a pinch
  • 2 tablespoons white granulated sugar (sub with Splenda or Stevia )
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup half and half (whole milk, reduced-fat, or skim milk if you must)
  • 1/4 cup hot espresso OR extra strong brewed coffee
  • sweetened whipped cream for serving
  • Drizzle Pumpkin Spice Syrup across the top (optional, but who can resist?)

Combine the half and half, pumpkin, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, pepper, and vanilla in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and vent with a small hole. Microwave until the half and half is hot, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk vigorously until the mixture is foamy, about 30 seconds.

Pour the espresso or coffee into a large mug and add the hot, foamed mixture. Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice. Yield: 1 large (venti) latte.

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix

(Printable recipe card with instructions below)

  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Syrup

(Printable recipe card with instructions below)

  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 1½ cups water
  • 6 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tspn ground cloves
  • 1 tspn ground ginger
  • 2 tspn ground nutmeg
  • 4 tbsp pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
A cup of Pumpkin Spice Latte
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Originally created by Starbucks, Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL) has developed a cult following. The downside is that PSL is so stinkin' expensive. And you have to go there, wait in line, order, then wait some more. As the weather is turning crisp and fall-ish, we're gearing up to make Pumpkin Spice Latte—cheaper, better, and faster!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time3 mins
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Servings: 1
Calories: 336kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons canned pumpkin puree NOT pumpkin pie mix; pure puree
  • ¼ teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice (see NOTES)
  • 2 tablespoons white granulated sugar OK to sub with Splenda or Stevia
  • pinch ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup half and half (see NOTES)
  • ¼ cup hot espresso OR hot, strong brewed coffee
  • 1 dollop sweetened whipped cream

Instructions

  • Combine half and half, pumpkin, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, pepper, and vanilla in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and vent with a small hole.
  • Microwave until the half and half is hot, 1 to 2 minutes
  • Whisk vigorously until the mixture is foamy, about 30 seconds
  • Pour the espresso or coffee into a large mug and add the hot foamed mixture.
  • Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

Note 1: Make sure you are NOT using canned Pumpkin Pie Filling. Please!
Note 2: Pumpkin Pie Spice from the supermarket spice aisle can be pricey. You can make it yourself cheaper, better and faster. Recipe here.
Note 3: Not a fan of half and half? Go ahead and substitute whole, reduced-fat, or skim milk ...( if you must). 
Note 4: Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground mace
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Combine all ingredients in a small bow. Mix well. Store in an airtight container for up to one year.

Nutrition

Calories: 336kcal
autumn pumpkin spice latte with milk and cream
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix

You can buy it in the supermarket, but boy is it pricey! Make it yourself and save a bundle.
Prep Time5 mins
Total Time5 mins
Course: Seasoning
Cuisine: American

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tspn ground ginger
  • ½ tspn allspice
  • ½ tspn ground cloves
  • ½ tspn ground nutmeg
  • ½ tspn ground mace Can substitute ground nutmeg (See NOTE)

Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Mix well. Store in an airtight container for up to one year. Recipe multiplies well.

Notes

Note 1: Can't find ground mace? Substitute by increasing nutmeg to 1 tspn. 
Note 2: Recipe for Starbuck's Pumpkin Spice Latte
large pumpkin spice latte in paper cup
Print Recipe
No ratings yet

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Syrup

The perfect drizzle over your DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte! Or add a shot or two to your next cup of coffee. Sublime!
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time2 hrs 20 mins
Total Time2 hrs 25 mins
Course: Beverages
Cuisine: American
Servings: 8 beverages
Calories: 155kcal

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup white granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 6 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tspn ground cloves
  • tspn ground ginger
  • 2 tspn ground nutmeg
  • 4 tbsp pumpkin purée NOT pumpkin pie filling!

Instructions

  • Combine sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
  • Once sugar is dissolved, add cinnamon sticks, ground cloves, ginger, nutmeg, and pumpkin purée, and let simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and immediately strain through cheesecloth.
  • Makes enough syrup for 8 beverages. Keeps up to 7 days in the fridge.

Notes

Can substitute the cloves, ginger and nutmeg with 1 1/2 tablespoon Pumpkin Spice Mix

Nutrition

Calories: 155kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 0.2g | Fat: 0.3g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.02g | Sodium: 4mg | Potassium: 31mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 38g | Vitamin A: 1175IU | Vitamin C: 0.4mg | Calcium: 31mg | Iron: 0.4mg
First published: 9-03-18; Expanded and Updated 9-15-22

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3 replies
  1. Linda says:

    Torani syrups may be the ones seen in stores, but I believe Monin is better. Many GFS (Gordon Food Services) carry some of the more popular ones. You can view all their syrups on line. At one time, they offered a sampler assortment, which I ordered at Christmas time for stocking stuffers. Last year, at our World Cost center, I got their holiday sampler assortment which had pumpkin, ginger, peppermint, caramel and gingerbread. (Unfortunately our World Cost Mkt closed)

    Reply

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