Picture this. Leaves are falling, you’re wearing the coziest oversized knit sweater you have, and the crisp smell of decay is in the wind. It is fall and you are walking through Kingston, a little plastic ghost flaps in the wind signalling the coming of the new season; it is so close to perfect but it needs that one final push. So, you look down and what are you holding? 

A pumpkin pie milkshake. Perfection has been achieved. 

That’s right, pumpkin spice season is back! And I could not be more indifferent to it. 

Pumpkin spice is that trend that won’t seem to go away, it’s the yearly warm hug of the tongue that signals the changing of bright summer days at the pier into the chilled wind as you walk down uni in fall. That warm mix of cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, and ginger has been around for a while now but it hit its stride in 2003 (the same year the masterpiece Finding Nemo came out, Coincidence? Yes) with the debut of Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte.  

Nowadays it’s hard to find a place that serves coffee that doesn’t have a fall offering to the public’s adoration. And with so many options I thought, someone, has to take on a noble task. Someone has to let the people of Kingston know! Answer the question “Where can they find the best option, to get the optimal blast of pumpkin (vibes) and spice blend? What options should I avoid and what ones should I clamber to get as much as I can before it’s gone?” Without further ado I present: 

The Pumpkin Spice List


It all started on September 13th, as I walked down Princess street I thought to myself, “Nate, doesn’t Dairy Queen have a pumpkin pie blizzard?” so I went in and sure enough they did, I intended to start off the piece much like the cult classic, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, with a science fiction double feature by getting a Starbucks classic Pumpkin Spice Latte and letting the blizzard melt to a drinking consistency. I was saved from this approach, however, when I learned that Dairy Queen already has a drinkable fall offering in the form of the Pumpkin Pie milkshake. This offering was… unique to say the least. First of all, this is a great way to trick your brain into still getting the cold, creamy milkshake taste of summer while getting the fall flavours you crave. Second, and I mean this no shade, somehow the flavour at the front of this drink is crust. Not graham cracker crust, just crust. It was not the best start. 

How Spice-y Is This Pumpkin?

Pumpkin Vibes: 5/10

Spice Blend: 3/10

High School Superlative: Class Clown 


September 14th, the day I tackled the titan, was the day I got the infamous Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte. 

Music Editor Tiana Lam and I went out to hunt it down and I was …

drumroll, please…

Not impressed. 

This wasn’t the worst offering by far, but if you are looking for a bang for your buck, it is not your friend. The unnatural orange colour did not appeal to me and you can taste that grotesque flavour the moment it hits your lips. This was by far the most fruit and chocolate tasting of the offerings. It was lacking any and all pumpkin or spice. I can respect why it returns but there are better options trust me. 

How Spice-y Is This Pumpkin?

Pumpkin Vibes: 4/10

Spice Blend: 2/10

High School Superlative: Most Fashionable


Sept 19th, the day I pushed myself too far, but who am I if not a journalist. 

Of the three tested on this day I started with, by far the highlight of this article, Crave’s Iced Pumpkin Spice Latte. For those of you with a sweet tooth you may turn somewhere else but GOOD NEWS! They have a Caramel Pumpkin Spice Latte available as well! This also lets the coffee share a co-star role with the sweet taste of fall. I also can not recommend, with my non-existent food knowledge, enough the pairing of this delicious drink and a crispy peanut butter bar; true perfection. Something about this drink tastes like childhood fall flavours in an adult way. 

How Spice-y Is This Pumpkin?

Pumpkin Vibes: 7/10

Spice blend: 9/10

High School Superlative: Most likely to be President


It only went downhill from here, The second outing was McDonald’s version of a  Pumpkin Spice Latte. Honestly, there’s not much to say. It was not bad it was just warm milk with some cinnamon, so if you like cinnamon toast crunch go for it! 

How Spice-y Is This Pumpkin?

Pumpkin Vibes: 2/10

Spice Blend: 1/10

High School Superlative: Friendliest 


I finished the day on campus with CoGro’s iced coffee with pumpkin pie flavouring. While not a super fan, I did find myself ordering it again. If you just need a little fall flavoured pick me up on a quick campus outing, go for it!

How Spice-y Is This Pumpkin?

Pumpkin Vibes: 5/10

Spice Blend: 7/10

High School Superlative: Most reliable



And finally, on September 20th, I finished this fall-infused odyssey at Balzac’s Coffee for their Café Harvest. This was the most unique of the six drinks tested as it is made with pumpkin puree and maple syrup. It was a great warm drink to make a rainy day cozier, but I have not found myself wanting to go back to it since I’ve tried it. I feel like this was a bit more style over substance. 

How Spice-y Is This Pumpkin?

Pumpkin vibes: 8/10

Spice Blend: 6/10

High School Superlative: Most likely to be a famous artist

And that was the extent of my pumpkin spice tour around Kingston! I like to think my time working on this research has changed me, made me more understanding of the pumpkin spice love, and drained my wallet by hooking me on Crave.

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