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TikTok or Starbucks? Blind Taste Test: The Pumpkin Spice Latte

Markets Insider – Business Insider
The iconic Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte

Fall is here and everyone is on their way to get the iconic Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte. Its signature fall spices and sweet pumpkin blended with the slight bitterness of coffee make it the perfect fall drink. Unfortunately, it is quite costly. A simple grande from Starbucks costs $6.45. Some TikTokers decided they would rather create their own pumpkin spice latte. A singular serving of the TikTok recipe is just shy of two dollars. That’s almost less than a third of the cost of the brand name pumpkin spice latte! But is it worth it? Is it really as tasty as the legendary Starbucks drink? The Beacon decided to test out this TikTok recipe. The recipe is relatively simple: two tablespoons of Torani Pumpkin Pie Sauce, half a cup of coffee, and one cup of milk.

We had four teachers blindly try the drinks and asked for their initial reactions. First, they tried the actual Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte. The teachers all agreed the drink was creamy, tasted very “pumpkin-y,” and had a nice sweetness to it. They thought it was delicious.

Ms. Schevis, an occasional Starbucks enjoyer, even joked, “This makes my inner fall girl happy!” 

Then we gave them the copycat TikTok recipe, and it did not live up to the expectations. They all thought it tasted too much like coffee and not enough like pumpkin. It lacked the warmth from the spices. The teachers thought it was much more bitter.

Ms. Prom specifically said she was not quite convinced on its taste. She thought it was unpleasant. Most of the teachers were shocked that they all preferred the Starbucks drink when the drinks were revealed.

 Ms. Schevis exclaimed, “There is a reason they market it. It’s like a pumpkin milkshake!” Unfortunately, the overall conclusion was that the TikTok copycat recipe was not as accurate or delicious.

 Mr. Perez, a black coffee lover, said, “When you get a drink like this, you want it to taste like the thing you are drinking, not necessarily a coffee—like, I want it to taste like pumpkin spice.”

The teachers all agreed the latte was meant to be more of a sweet treat rather than your typical daily coffee, and were disappointed at the taste. 

Ms. Morrison, an enjoyer of sweet and flavorful coffee, chimed in, saying, “This type of drink is a treat; I want to have a special treat!” Overall, the TikTok drink was too similar to the taste of coffee rather than the treat the pumpkin spice latte is. 

Later, The Beacon asked the teachers what could be improved from the TikTok drink.

Ms Schevis suggested “a better balance between coffee and pumpkin,” and also added she believes the taste of the drink can be better depending on the type of coffee used.  Lighter brews would have tasted better. Ms. Prom believed there was something just off with the taste of the syrup used.

Finally, we asked each teacher if they would rather make the TikTok version at home or pay the full price. All the teachers except for Ms. Morrison said they would still make it at home because of just how much cheaper it would be. Ms. Morrison would rather buy it. She believed the TikTok taste wasn’t worth it, claiming, “I feel like they are worlds apart; it’s not even close to me.” Overall, the copycat recipe is not as pleasant as the original. It completely lacks the iconic taste.

The TikTok drink was much more bitter and coffee-like. It didn’t have the same iconic taste, but it was a lot cheaper.  From the perspective of our teachers, who we surely believe drink lots of coffee, it seems like the $6 drink is worth it! The pumpkin spice latte has been the staple fall drink for 20 years now. They use their own curated syrup that incorporates real pumpkins, lots of cinnamon and cloves, and nutmeg. Needless to say, Starbucks has perfected the recipe. What would you choose? Would you try this recipe? 

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About the Contributors
August Bacchus
August Bacchus, Public Relations and Events Coordinator
A. is a senior at Forest Hills High School.  A. is in the Zoned Program and is involved in the school's Yearbook Committee as Chief Editor. A. is also a member of We The People, the AP Government competition class, as well as one of the two Presidents of the school's Digital Media Club. A. enjoys listening to metal music, illustrating, and also plays the electric bass guitar.
Arianna Baez
Arianna Baez, Social Media Manager and News Editor
Arianna is a senior in the drama academy, also a part of Good Day Forest Hills and Yearbook. She enjoys creative writing, reading, and playing music. She is thrilled to be a part of The Beacon.
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