Each season brings its own unique weather, holidays, and seasonal goods.

Within the coffee community, “pumpkin spice” beverages tend to fly off the shelves throughout fall. Although this trendy beverage has become somewhat of a fall tradition, there’s another side to this popular “flavor” — one that’s anything but healthy or desirable.

person holding pumpkin

What Is “Pumpkin Spice” Anyways?

In the United States, pumpkin spice is simply a blend of ginger, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, and sometimes allspice. Often used to make homemade pumpkin pies, “pumpkin spice” takes on a different meaning in the world of commercialized coffee.

Many chains have created pumpkin spice beverages to celebrate the fall season — but they’re anything but natural. When ordering a pumpkin spice latte, for example, you’ll be drinking a heavy dose of refined sugar and other processed ingredients.

In addition, those who serve this beverage to the masses often use caramel coloring to make the experience more authentic in terms of creating a spiced, “pumpkiny” appearance. Caramel color, also known as E150d, often contains a potentially carcinogenic chemical.

As stated by Consumer Reports, “There’s no reason why consumers should be exposed to an avoidable and unnecessary cancer risk, just to make food brown.”

From artificial flavors to sulfites, there’s nothing artisanal about pumpkin spice beverages. That is why you should explore alternatives — the type of specialty alternatives that offer an incredible depth of flavor (without needing a cup of processed whipped cream on top).

lake sorrounded by trees

Get Into the Spirit of Fall with These Alternatives

If you love the taste of seasonal coffees, there’s no need to fret. You can still enjoy fall-inspired flavor profiles without consuming any added junk. By seeking out quality coffee, you can enjoy a vast array of taste notes, many of which scream “autumn is officially here.”

Although you will find often gourmet pumpkin-flavored coffees, why limit yourself?

Just as barrel-aged beers are popular throughout the fall season, so is barrel-aged coffee. Boneshaker Bourbon, for instance, offers a sweet and well-balanced coffee that has been bourbon barrel-aged. The end result is a full body coffee with taste notes of vanilla, bourbon, and of course, oak. Nothing beats it on a cool, crisp fall morning.

Related: What Is Barrel-Aged Coffee, And How Is It Made?

Fall also brings apple-flavored delights, so why not select a coffee that celebrates this seasonal harvest? Whether you sample Decaf Colombia Medellín by Onyx Coffee Lab or Columbia Tolima by Red Rooster Coffee, both offer taste notes of apple, along with other unique flavors/aroma profiles.

If spice is what you’re after, be sure to check out 4&20 French Roast; and if caramel is what you crave, Guatemala La Bendición will surely please your palate.

You can even take inspiration from some of the top roasters, crafting up your own all-natural creations. Ipsento has built a dedicated following when it comes to their Pumpkin Patch Latte. Made with their house-roasted espresso, spices, real pumpkin, pumpkin-coconut syrup, and frothed milk, why not try your own creation?

full filled coffee white ceramic mug beside brown hat

Bottom line: Why settle for subpar, unhealthy beverages when you can treat yourself to a quality coffee that is bold, unique, and reminiscent of fall?

It’s time to branch out and make new traditions, enjoying seasonal coffee that is fresh and flavorful from roasters who eat, sleep, and breath coffee.

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