Pumpkin Spice Latte. Vegan. Cozy. Not a la Starbucks.

Boy: Did you just put pumpkin in your latte?
Girl: Yes. Why yes I did.
(boy: pause)
Girl: ..Spice too.
(boy: longer pause. blank stare.)
Girl: What? It's a Pumpkin Spice Latte...

My Vegan Pumpkin Spice Latte. You saw me put the spinach back in spinach dip. Well now I'd like to put the pumpkin back in Pumpkin Spice Latte. Let's go..


Yes, the ghosts are back. What can I say, they love pumpkin I guess..

So yes, I had a craving for Starbuck's PSL: pumpkin spice latte. But first, let me set the scene..

8am NYC. I'm Cold. I want a Latte.

Flashback. It used to be so easy. I'd wake up. Rub my eyes. Yawn. Throw the covers off my bed. Put my feet on the cold floor. Shiver dramatically. Walk upstairs. Turn on the heater. Push that little tab up a few notches past 70. The buzz of the furnace would hum a few moments later. Followed by a swift gush of hot air rising from the floor vent. I'd stand over it. My T-shirt would puff up like a marshmallow, swollen with warm air. Ahh.. Warmth.

Out of the corner of my eye I'd notice a glare from my warm-blooded dad sipping his coffee. "You're cold?" He'd ask in disbelief. A few minutes later my hot-blooded sister would whine from the bathroom as she primped her hair for school, "Kathy! I'm hot!" But I was cold. I'm always cold. Some people just are. I hate being cold.

The point of my flashback story is this: turning on the heat, aka staying warm, isn't so easy when you live in an NYC building - this time of year. Right now, we are in what I like to call "the in-between." The in-between of hot and cold. The air is cold outside, but not cold enough to turn on the furnaces in the buildings where the people (me) live. So I wake up: cold.

And from my bed this morning, snuggled under three blankies, I thought to myself,

"Self, wouldn't it be great if I could go get a steamy hot soy Pumpkin Spice Latte at the Starbucks around the corner as a special Monday morning treat? Yes, that would be nice!"

But in the past year, I realized that the lovely Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks is not vegan. It contains dairy. Even if you order it with soy milk.

Confirm Please.
This morning (still snuggled in my warm bed) I gave the Starbucks customer service hotline (1-800-23-LATTE) a call. Total call time: 13 minutes and a few seconds. The call confirmed: yes, there is dairy in Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte. Even without whip, and with soymilk. The culprit: "condensed nonfat milk".

..I told the Starbucks lady I was saddened by the news. Maybe if we all call and ask/cry/sigh to Starbucks they will get the message. 1-800-23-LATTE folks.

Oh, and the last thing. Starbucks, why don't you just list all dietary/ingredient info online? Why did I have to call for this info? You already put calories/fat/sugar etc. I mean I was drinking Pumpkin Spice Lattes a few falls ago like they were water. I had no clue the soy Pumpkin Spice Latte contained dairy. You think if someone orders soymilk ... they probably are not into dairy, right? Now everytime I hear someone order a "soy pumpkin spice latte" it makes me wonder if they are aware of the dairy.

Why can't Starbucks simply use a soy base instead of a dairy base? Others, including Ellen Degeneres have expressed similar concerns. Her tweet..

"Sure would. RT @tonyaharrington Wouldn’t a soy-based pumpkin spice latte be a great non dairy option at @Starbucks?"
-@TheEllenShow on Twitter

So instead of twiddle my thumbs as I wait for Starbucks stores to catch up to the demand - I decided to take my own vegan stab at a Pumpkin Spice Latte...

Sip, sip, gulp, ahh..

Here is the recipe I made this morning. I must say it was pumpkin-y and spicy. And 100% vegan. Warm. Rich. cozy. Will I make it every morning? Probably not. But is it nice to have a vegan option for a PSL - with actual pumpkin in the mix? Definitely.

Pumpkin and Spice and Everything Nice...

Kathy's Real Pumpkin Spice Soy Latte
vegan, makes one big latte

Coffee/Soymilk Base:
1 1/2 cups vanilla soymilk
1-2 shots espresso OR 1/2 cup strongly brewed coffee
1 1/2 Tbsp canned pumpkin (unsweetened)
sweeten to taste (I used agave syrup)
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice OR cinnamon/nutmeg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
dash of cayenne (optional, but recommended!)

Sweet Pumpkin Foam:
1 tsp canned unsweetened pumpkin
1/4 cup warm soy milk
1 tsp agave syrup
dash of spice
tiniest pinch of salt
tool: hand foaming tool

1. In a small soup pan heat all the base ingredients. Note: If you are using coffee you can add it directly to the pan here. However if you are using fresh hot espresso you can add it last.

2. Stir all ingredients until simmering. Make sure the pumpkin dissolves into the base well and the spices don't clump. Add the spices last if you are having clumping issues. When mixture is at a low/med boil you can remove from heat, pour into a serving mug and set aside. Optional: I like to get my base mixture extra fluffy by whipping with my foaming wand a few times. A few nice bubble form..

Foamy base mixture..

3. Quickly whip up your pumpkin foam by heating all the ingredients in a tall circular glass until warm. Then whip into a foam with a foaming wand. (If you do not have a foaming wand you will have to skip this step and simply go with a no-foam latte. Simply add the 'foam ingredients' to the main base mixture.)

A little spice make your pumpkin foam nice...

4. Top your steamy hot base with a few scoops of pumpkin foam. If you have not added your espresso yet, do so now. Dash of spice on top.

5. Top with soy whip if you are feeling luxurious.

Soy Latte with a side of pumpkin is served..

It's yummy..

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