It’s the time of year when hiking sandals are replaced with fur-lined boots and fashion kimonos are traded for blanket scarfs. Now is the time for scented candles and decorative gourds. It’s the season of pop culture’s favorite latte—beans dripping with notes of jet fuel and foam polluted by neon orange oil. Pumpkin spice latte season often marks the start of holiday festivities, but commercial beaneries fail to find refreshing beverages that embody this transitional time. Although many companies produce a variety of holiday beverage flavors, these drinks can be summed up as a combination of artificial flavors and red dye 40 thrown into a bland roast, which is then half-heartedly called “coffee.”
Combatting this conundrum, many local beaneries tried to do this season justice with natural flavors that are reminiscent of blustery autumn days. For a tasteful, hand-crafted latte experience, check out some of these locations:
Building Three Coffee
In the old Lincoln School building, Building Three Coffee has remained a strong competitor among independent beaneries with its unique festive drinks. To celebrate the start of the holiday season, Building Three has curated two seasonal lattes flavors: butterscotch and sweet potato. A testament to butterbeer (a drink popularized by Harry Potter Fandom), the butterscotch latte is made with a scratch butterscotch-rum caramel. Infused with a robust, chocolatey espresso blend, this latte drapes around your tongue after every warm sip. The buttery caramel paired with a bitter, earthy base layer composes an unparalleled coffee experience.
Reminiscent of tension-filled, Thanksgiving family dinners, the sweet potato latte at Building Three is a savory, double-edged latte experience. The latte is mixed with an airy sweet potato puree (made in house) infused with cinnamon and nutmeg that competes with dark espresso. While the beans remain robust, the latte itself dances a fine line between a savory broth and rich, sippable coffee.
Serving bitter-chocolate mochas and sriracha-glazed avocado toast, Switchback Coffee has distinguished itself among independent roasters by adding a unique twist on classic favorites. In this tradition, Switchback recently created its own rendition of the pumpkin spice latte. This latte uses beans with a strong, acidic flavor that also pack the subtlety of a light roast. The pumpkin spice syrup adds a creamy element to the latte and suggests cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg. This caffeinated latte relaxes and entrances drinkers to kick back and people-watch. It’s a soothing step back from the hustle of traditional sugar-laden commercial beverages. This sweet treat provides the perfect opportunity to wrap up in your favorite blanket and get cozy before the frost sets in.
By far the most unique of the beverage destinations, Loyalty Coffee specializes in excellent coffee and visually stunning presentation. Their seasonal beverages are just as impressive. Their fall beverage, the whiskey caramel latte, is served in a glass tumbler with a salted caramel brim and two skewered, roasted mini marshmallows frothing in the latte foam. The beans used have a strong savory walnut and dark chocolate flavor that is muted by creamy whiskey-infused caramel. Combined with the salt brim, the latte dances around the tongue in sputtering combinations of salty, sweet, savory, and bitter. This latte is meant to be gently swirled against the side of the tumbler while staring out the window to the catty-corner Arby’s franchise.