Does The Pumpkin Spice Latte Have Caffeine? It’s The Perfect Fall Pick-Me-Up For A Reason

What are those sounds of rejoicing and celebration, you ask? The pumpkin spice latte is back at Starbucks, and not a moment too soon. There is no experience on this Earth more beautiful than taking a sip of your very first PSL of the season, but it can be a baffling time, as well. I mean, does the pumpkin spice latte have caffeine? It may seem like a silly question, but as anyone who depends on coffee to get them through an afternoon slump will tell you, it’s an important one to ask.

When it comes to things that you are eating and drinking, it’s good to know what exactly you’re putting in your body. This is especially true when it comes to caffeine. Whether you are looking for a new go-to morning order, or you want to make sure you’re not drinking something at 8 p.m. that will keep you up until the wee hours of the morning, having this kind of knowledge on your side can only help you, in the long run.

That’s why I did some digging in order to find out a little more about the caffeine content of this sacred Starbucks beverage. Plus, I figured now was high time to answer some other burning PSL questions as well. Climb aboard, my fellow PSL lovers. Let’s take a look at the need-to-know facts about this delicious drink.

Does Your PSL Have Caffeine?

One quick look at the PSL ingredients list, and the answer to this question becomes almost ridiculously obvious. Yes, your pumpkin spice latte has caffeine in it. Espresso is a main ingredient of the PSL, and we all know that espresso offers a pretty decent caffeinated kick in the pants.

According to the nutritional page on Starbucks’ website, a grande pumpkin spice latte has about 150mg of caffeine, whereas a grande Pike Place roast offers approximately 310mg of caffeine. So, the PSL doesn’t have as much caffeine as your classic cup of coffee, but it definitely does have caffeine.

The plus side? This fall-flavored deliciousness is a decent substitute for coffee as your morning pick-me-up (although, you might want to drink two if you’re feeling extra tired!). The downside? You probably don’t want to drink a PSL in the evening — unless being up all night is your thing.

What Other Ingredients Are In It?

The pumpkin spice latte actually got a bit of a makeover this year — for the first time since the drink’s debut in 2003, Starbucks has changed up its recipe. For the newly revamped PSL, Starbucks gave artificial coloring the boot, and included real pumpkin as one of the PSL’s main ingredients — gasp! The new drink doesn’t actually taste any different than the original (if anything, some people who have tried it think it tastes better), so no need to worry about what you’re sipping on.

In addition to this announcement, Starbucks also released the PSL’s full ingredient list. Here’s what you’re getting in your cup — besides overwhelming deliciousness:

  • Espresso
  • Milk
  • Pumpkin Spice Flavored Sauce (Sugar, Condensed Skim Milk, Pumpkin Puree, Contains two percent or Less of Fruit and Vegetable Juice for Color, Natural Flavors, Annatto (Color), Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Salt)
  • Whipped Cream (Light Whipping Cream )
  • Starbucks Vanilla Syrup (Sugar, Water, Natural Flavors, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Citric Acid)
  • Pumpkin Spice Topping (Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg, Clove)


Does the pumpkin spice latte have caffeine? Simple answer: yes. If you’re feeling extra tired in the morning, start your day off with a quick kick of caffeine paired with the aromatic combination of nutmeg, clove, ginger, and cinnamon that comes loaded in every sip. I, for one, am trying to get more sleep — so only two PSLs for me per day.

Looking for more cool coffee ideas? Check out Bustle on YouTube!

Bustle on YouTube

Images: silvia-elisa/Flickr; Giphy (3)

I’m always late to all of the seasonal trends. Not because they don’t start around here the same time as everywhere else–Pumpkin Spice was all over the place by the end of August. Fall can’t come fast enough for fans of the flavor (or companies eager to cash in on the trend)! But around here, the weather was hot hot hot until about a week ago. The last thing I wanted was a steaming mug of latte. As a food blogger, I probably could have sucked it up and made some anway… but it honestly didn’t occur to me. I want to enjoy my food. I’m sure you do too. So, one day I was wearing shorts and the next day I was bundled up in six layers to sleep, and I thought “It’s time”. For a Caffeine-Free Pumpkin Spice Latte. For cocoa. For soup. For standing by the oven while I’m making pot roast. For bringing out all the blankets and curling up on the couch with a movie every night because going outside sounds like a drag. And relative to what a lot of you guys are dealing with right now, it’s really not that bad. I’m sure this would be a lovely day to many of you. But we Texans are well-adapted to our 100-degree, 10-month-long summers and for two months a year we are shivering homebodies. I am most physically productive on beautiful spring-like days when the sun is shining but the weather is comfortably warm. Cleaning. Cooking. Exercising. Running errands. I am all go-go-go. Whereas in winter, my body seems to shut down, leaving me to do brainier, more introspective things, like writing. I enjoy it. It’s nice. I wish it lasted longer. But I also wish I wasn’t so run-down all the time.

Well, that’s winter for you. On to the recipe! This one is autoimmune protocol-friendly if you use this herbal coffee recipe, but can be made with any kind of coffee or coffee substitute depending on your dietary needs and preferences. I’ve made it with coffee and it is mmm mmm good either way. The best part? It actually has pumpkin in it. It’s not just pumpkin spice like most of the products you’ll find out there. These are also great iced!

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Pumpkin Spice Latte

Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 35 minutes Servings: 4 servings


  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground mace
  • 3 cups herbal coffee
  • 1 1/4 cups coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whipped cream (for garnish)


  • cookware


  • In a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook the pumpkin and spices for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Add the coffee, milk, and syrup. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Stir in the vanilla, then serve garnished with whipped cream and a sprinkle of mace.

It’s fall, and to many of us, that means one thing: Starbucks Pumpkin Spice.

It’s become a tradition for many to get the first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season as a celebration of autumn, but what if there’s no Starbucks near you? Enter the bottled Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino.

Image: Starbucks

A Starbucks rep told SheKnows that, “The bottled Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte Frappuccino beverage features enticing hints of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove, creamy milk and Starbucks coffee, and is available for a limited time only at Costco stores nationwide.” Luckily I was able to get to Costco and nab the last 12-pack on the shelf so I could try out one of these babies for myself.

More: 21 Fall-flavored foods you need to try now (even if it’s not fall yet)

I also got a Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino and an iced Pumpkin Spice Latte from a Starbucks store so I could do a side-by-side taste test.

The results?

1. Bottled Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino vs. fresh Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino

These two definitely have a smilar flavor profile, in that they’re very light on the coffee and pretty sweet and creamy. One of the major things I noticed about the bottled PSF is that the spice profile was really strong. I barely tasted the cinnamon, but the nutmeg flavor was really front and center. Because of this, the drink almost tastes more like eggnog than what I think of as pumpkin spice flavor. But since the bottled version wasn’t blended with ice, I wondered if this test was even a fair comparison. So I went back to the kitchen to experiment.

2. Blended bottled Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino vs. fresh Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino

Image: Justina Huddleston/SheKnows

I blended one bottle of the PSF with about 1-1/2 cups of ice. The texture was crazy — the mixture was so, so foamy. A rich and luxurious foam, definitely, but I was still surprised it was primarily foamy and airy rather than icy. That said, this blended version (especially with a dollop of whipped cream on top) was a lot closer to the real thing than straight out of the bottle. It was weirdly refreshing, as if the cold helped tame the sweetness and the nutmeg flavor. If you don’t live near a Starbucks, I would recommend giving this a try. But there was still room for improvement.

More: 10 Pumpkin spice foods that have no excuse for existing

3. Bottled Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino vs. iced Pumpkin Spice Latte

These two are only vaguely similar, due to one factor: The PSL has a much stronger coffee flavor than the bottled PSF. But that coffee flavor really helps balance out the sweet pumpkin spice flavor. So what’s a pumpkin spice lover to do?

How to hack your bottled PSF into the real thing

For the best at-home bottled Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino experience, I recommend freezing some leftover coffee in an ice cube tray, then blending 1-1/2 cups of coffee ice cubes with one bottle of PSF. This way, you’ll have the cold and creamy texture of the blended Frappuccino you would get at an actual Starbucks, along with the toasty coffee flavor of a PSL to help balance out the drink.

Image: Justina Huddleston/SheKnows

A major benefit of buying the bottled PSF is the price. I got a 12-pack for $14.49, which means each 9.5-ounce bottle clocks in at around $1.20 versus $3-plus (depending on your location) for a 12-ounce tall PSF at the coffee shop itself.

More: Taco Tuesday death match: Tacos vs. Pumpkin Spice Latte

Another reason to try? Both places I consider to be my hometown are an hour away from the nearest Starbucks, and if you’re in a similar situation, I would definitely recommend the bottled version and hacking it with coffee ice cubes and a blender so you can enjoy an iconic taste of fall without having to take a road trip. After all, what’s autumn without a sip of pumpkin spice?

Is there any doubt Starbucks’ proprietary Pumpkin Spice Latte isn’t the single most influential fast food/junk food item of the 21st century? One look at the seasonal goods section of any grocery store in America ought to be all the proof you need.

Pumpkin spice cookies. Pumpkin spice marshmallows. Pumpkin spice cereal. Pumpkin spice vodka. For crying out loud, there are even pumpkin spice cough drops, and I’d be shocked if we aren’t a few years away from somebody selling pumpkin spice deodorant, pumpkin spice mouthwash, or pumpkin spice family planning products. So profound the impact of that one Starbucks beverage that, 14 years after the humble PSL was first introduced, the entire Halloween season has now become hardly anything more than a three-month bombardment of all things pumpkin spicy.

Although it’s fun to trudge through/lament the avalanche of PSL-inspired snack foods, the conversation inevitably leads back to the original beverage. While the PSL has been commercially offered in bottled form as a limited-time-only Frappuccino for several years now, Starbucks hasn’t offered the PSL as a one-and-done, glass bottled solo shot until this fall. Unfortunately, the big retail debut of arguably the most imitated foodstuff of the century isn’t exactly the cafe-to-store shelves success we were hoping for.

First, the good news. The bottle itself – with that nice ocher tone and regal lettering – is downright beautiful. Secondly, the scent on this sucker is pretty much a dead ringer for the “real” PSL. And thirdly, the latte’s aftertaste – that milky goulash of nutmeg and cinnamon – is very faithful to the in-cafe drink we all know and love.

Alas, this is still far from a perfect recreation of the classic PSL. There’s too much milk and not enough coffee flavoring, making the whole beverage taste more like a weird Yoo-hoo imitator than a Starbucks drink. And while the ingredients do add up to a more robust, flavorful “pumpkin spice” taste than most PSL-inspired seasonal products, I’m afraid it doesn’t stack up to the “real” stuff.

The drink feels very watered down and the huge chunks of seasoning are a major turn-off (indeed, I almost choked to death on a nickel-sized wad of nutmeg at the bottom of the glass.) This is a drink designed to be ingested piping hot, with a thick layer of whipped cream atop it – and that’s something that can’t be replicated in a 14-ounce, refrigerated glass vase.

To be fair, it’s a much better grab-and-go PSL drink than most of the bottled pumpkin spice coffees out there, but it nonetheless feels like a pale imitation of, well, itself. As a glorified jug of chocolate milk with artificial pumpkin flavoring, it’s actually quite decent, but as the long, long awaited convenience-store-ready port of THE most copied seasonal beverage out there? It’s pretty hard to consider this iteration of the PSL anything but a disappointment.

(Nutrition Facts – 270 calories, 40 calories from fat, 4.5 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 45 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 42 grams of sugar, and 11 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 14 fl. oz.
Purchased at: Flash Foods
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: The container looks classy and dignified. The nutmeg and cinnamon taste is quite authentic. The scent is an almost perfect imitation of the “real” PSL.
Cons: It tastes more like chocolate milk than coffee. The beverage doesn’t really “work” as a cold drink. Getting huge, pencil shavings-like clumps of seasoning caught in the back of your throat.

There are two types of people in this world: Those who will take any excuse to go out to eat, and those who prefer to have their fridge stocked with everything they need. If you fall into the latter camp, Walmart is making it easier for you to drink fall’s favorite basic bev without actually heading into a Starbucks.

For a limited time, the super center is selling enormous 40-ounce bottled PSL’s, and they cost less than most venti lattes. Spotted at a Washington state Walmart for just $4.53 (prices may vary), the chilled espresso bottles contain around five servings of coffee, so they’re definitely a bang for your buck.

They’re also slightly healthier than an in-store latte…drinks made with reduced-fat milk, Starbucks espresso coffee, sugar, and pumpkin flavoring, a serving has 150 calories and 24 grams of sugar, compared to 300 calories and 39 grams of sugar in a tall PSL with whipped cream.

Madison Flager

Walmart (and other major grocery stores) are also selling Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice K-Cup Pods, VIA Instant Pumpkin Spice Latte packs, Pumpkin Spice Flavored Ground Coffee, and Pumpkin Spice Cookie Straws this fall. If you’re not a pumpkin fan, you can still take advantage of Walmart’s bulk-sized coffee: They’ve got Caramel Macchiato and Vanilla Latte 40-ounce bottles, plus 48-ounce Unsweetened Iced Coffee bottles.

Delish: Eat Like Every Day’s The Weekend CA$31.55 Madison Flager Lifestyle Editor Madison Flager is the Lifestyle Editor at; she covers food news and trends, travel-worthy food experiences, and the products you need in your kitchen right now.

Bottled pumpkin spice latte

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