Our favorite Fall beverage is back! Here's how to make a Pumpkin Spice Latte

An Autumn favorite hot drink, the pumpkin spice flavored coffee, tea, or chai, complete with fresh pumpkins and whipped cream topping. Cinnamon sticks, ginger, cloves, and allspice surround the mug of spicy warm goodness. Rustic wood table.
(Image credit: Getty Images; RyanJLane)

The moment the first leaves start to fall, it’s time to get excited for the return of Pumpkin Spice Latte. First developed by Starbucks in the early noughties, it’s become a seasonal favorite in coffee shops far and wide. 

Tools & ingredients

Tools

- Espresso maker – this could be a Pod machine, espresso machine, portable espresso machine, or Stovetop espresso maker
- Coffee grinder (if required)
- Mug
- Jug 
- Saucepan
- Cheesecloth or fine sieve
- Food processor (optional)

Ingredients

- Coffee beans, pods, or grounds
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- ½ tsp ginger
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1 small pumpkin (optional)

If you love pumpkin spice as much as we do, why not try making a Pumpkin Spice Latte at home? You only need classic pumpkin pie spices—cinnamon, ginger, and cloves—and an espresso machine. Our recipe works just as well with decaffeinated espresso, so the caffeine-intolerant can enjoy it, too. No machine? Just take a look at our star line-up of the best espresso machines

Whether or not you add pumpkin puree to your hot beverage is a matter of personal taste. Some people love the extra velvety thickness and pumpkin pie vibes, while others prefer a more classic, milky consistency. The best thing about making a Pumpkin Spice Latte at home is that you are in total control.

This simple step-by-step guide covers everything you need to know about making a Pumpkin Spice Latte at home, the tools and ingredients you’ll need, and a few tips to help ensure success. Let Pumpkin season begin!

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(Image credit: Future)

How to make a Pumpkin Spice Latte: quick steps

  • Make pumpkin puree (optional)
  • Make pumpkin spice syrup
  • Make an espresso – one shot or two
  • Combine syrup, puree, and espresso
  • Make and pour over hot milk and stir
  • Add whipped cream and pumpkin spices

spices on a plate

(Image credit: Future)

How to make a Pumpkin Spice Latte: Step by step guide

1. Make pumpkin puree (optional)

(Image: © Future)

You don’t have to include pumpkin puree, but it will intensify the pumpkin flavoring and make the drink much thicker. It will be more filling, too. You can usually buy canned puree at this time of year, but making your own couldn’t be easier.

You cut a small pumpkin in half, lay it on a baking sheet cut-side-down, and roast for around 40-50 minutes at 356F. Don’t add any oil. Once cooled, scoop out the flesh and blitz in a food processor. It will be stored in the fridge for a week or in the freezer for up to three months.

2. Make pumpkin spice syrup

(Image: © Future)

To make pumpkin spice syrup, put the sugar and water into a saucepan, boil, and stir until the sugar dissolves. Next, add the remaining ingredients – cloves, cinnamon sticks, ginger, nutmeg, and pumpkin puree (if using) – and reduce to a low heat. 

Simmer for at least 20 minutes. You’re aiming for a thick consistency (similar to maple syrup). If you’re not using puree, it may take longer to thicken, so just keep simmering. 

Remove from the heat and strain through a cheesecloth or fine sieve immediately. This recipe should make enough syrup for at least six servings of Pumpkin Spice Latte; double up or halve the ingredients according to requirements.

  • Tip: The syrup will keep for up to two weeks if stored in a sterile, airtight container or jar in the fridge, so go ahead and double up!

3. Make an espresso

(Image: © Future)

We made this Pumpkin Spice Latte using the Breville Barista Express Impress because it has a built-in milk frother, but you can also use a pod-style or stove-top machine and froth the milk using a handheld milk frother (like this one from Amazon)

Once you have decided how you will make your espresso, decide how many shots you will take. We think one shot works best, but if you need caffeine to get your day up and grooving, two shots are cool. You may need to select a tall mug to accommodate the extra volume, though.

  • Tip: Although this recipe's espresso flavor shouldn’t overpower, you’ll get stronger coffee notes if you seek out espresso beans rated 4 or above for intensity. 
  • Tip: If you put the espresso in first and then add cold water, you’ll get less crema on top. Crema fans should always start with the water.

4. Combine syrup and espresso

Next, add 1-2 tbsp of your homemade pumpkin spice syrup to a mug, pour over the espresso, and mix. The amount of syrup you use really depends on how sweet you like your coffee—it is a very sugary mix, so we recommend starting with one tbsp and adding more once you’ve tasted it.

5. Steam some milk and stir in

Ideally, the milk should be good and frothy, as it would be for a regular latte. Pour around 100ml of milk into a steel jug and use your steam wand to heat and froth. You can use dairy milk or any milk substitute of your choice.

Inserting the steam tip 1-2cm beneath the surface of the milk, with the jug held at an angle, will help create the vortex needed to heat the milk evenly. The milk is at the ideal temperature of 140-149F when the exterior of the jug is too hot to comfortably touch but not boiling.

Pour the steamed milk into your mug and stir it well.

  • Tip: Towards the end of steaming, bring the steam wand closer to the surface to introduce small pockets of air, which will help texturize the milk. Aim for foamy but not boiling.

6. Add whipped cream and pumpkin spices

(Image: © Future)

Finally, add a generous swirl of whipped cream – we used a can of dairy cream – and sprinkle with pumpkin spices to decorate. 

You can buy ready-mixed pumpkin pie spices in most grocery stores, but we just mixed our own using equal quantities of ground cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and ground nutmeg.

  • Tip: Go easy on the ground cloves in your spice mix if the smell is overpowering. 

FAQs

What is pumpkin spice latte made of?

The main ingredients that give Pumpkin Spice Lattes their flavor are the spices. The clue is in the name. These are the same spices you would use to make a pumpkin pie – cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg – and they deliver all the same cozy, homely goodness associated with this classic holiday season dessert.

Whether or not you include pumpkin puree is entirely your choice, but if you love this beverage from Starbucks and are looking to recreate it at home, then you’ll need the puree. 

We taste-tested Pumpkin Spice Latte with and without pumpkin puree, and they were both seriously good. The puree version is just a little heavier and richer.

Are pumpkin spice lattes healthy?

While the Pumpkin Spice Latte is made from all-natural ingredients, it does contain more calories than a regular latte because of the addition of sugary syrup and pumpkin puree. 

If you are counting the calories, you could easily switch out cane sugar for a sweetener like stevia when making our pumpkin spice syrup recipe above. 

You can also leave out the puree altogether without missing the flavor hit. Then, swap full-fat milk for skimmed milk or unsweetened oat milk to enjoy this Fall treat virtually guilt-free.

Final thoughts

Making a Pumpkin Spice Latte is much easier than you'd imagine. The beauty of making it at home is that you can adjust the sugar and spice levels to suit your tastebuds. We recommend taking the time to tweak the amounts when using such strong flavors, as tiny adjustments can make all the difference to the final result. 

Our Pumpkin Spice Latte recipe is easy to make child-friendly using decaffeinated espresso. The making process will also fill your home with all the scents of pumpkin season—perfect when welcoming guests over for a Pumpkin Spice Latte and perhaps a cheeky slice of pumpkin pie!

Linda Clayton
Contributor

Linda Clayton is a professionally trained journalist, and has specialised in product reviews, interiors and fitness for more than two decades. Linda has written for a wide range of publications, from the Daily Telegraph and Guardian to Homes & Gardens and Livingetc. She has been freelancing for Future Publishing (and its predecessors) since 2006, covering design trends, home makeovers, product reviews and much more.