Monday, September 18, 2017

A Definitive Guide to the Pumpkin Spice Lattes of Springfield, MO

Well, friends. Here we are. It's nearly fall, and as the temperatures begin to drop, our cravings for sugary coffee drinks that mimic our favorite seasonal flavors are rising. They're rising quickly and furiously, and if this intro was too flowery and boring, here's the 'too long; didn't read' version:


My friend, Stephanie, approached me about trying all the pumpkin spice lattes in our hometown of Springfield, MO to find out which one is really and truly the best. I thought the idea was fantastic, and after more than a handful of lattes and a couple failed attempts, we present our results. I'll outline a few of our 'rules' for adjudicating:
  • We only tried PSLs from actual coffee shops, meaning we didn't try any from Panera or McDonald's or anything crazy like that.
  • If there was a PSL at a coffee shop in town, we tried it. If we missed one, we're sorry.
  • Rumor has it that Hebrews and The Coffee Ethic are also releasing PSLs after this blog post goes live. We will try those and update this post with our thoughts. If either of those rock our floppy hats off, we'll share that on social media using our hashtag for this project: #SGFPSL.
  • The results are published in alphabetical order, with the winner at the bottom.
Ready for this?!

Big Momma's 'The Pumpkin King'

Big Momma's "Pumpkin King" was the first we tried on our PSL tour, and we got off to a great start. According to their online menu, the Pumpkin King is "2 shots of espresso, steamed milk, pumpkin spice and cinnamon." I am *nearly positive* this drink said it contained caramel on the board; nonetheless, it tasted very caramel-y. Big Momma's also wins major points for presentation and customer service.

Order this drink if:
- you want a pumpkin drink in the middle of March (they serve it year-round!)
- you want to Instagram your favorite fall-flavored drink
- you want to be teased by a friendly staff

Classic Rock Coffee's 'Smashing Pumpkin Spiced Latte'

Stephanie's first reaction to this PSL was, and I quote, "well this smells like a delicious graham cracker." Did it taste like a delicious graham cracker? Well, not really. But it tasted like a pretty darn good latte! This was a drink where the pumpkin flavor didn't overbear the coffee; in fact, the sweetness was pretty toned down compared to others we had.

Order this drink if:
- you're on the West side of Springfield. This is one of the only local coffee shops on that side of town, and their staff really knows their stuff.
- you aren't into the traditional 'coffee shop' vibes; Classic Rock's atmosphere is a little different than most shops. I'm guessing that's why they thought to name it Classic Rock...
- you want a drink that's based around high quality, locally roasted coffee.

Dancing Mule Coffee Company's 'Pumpkin Pie Latte'

Dancing Mule Coffee Company says "we want you to experience kickin' coffee without the snobby attitude," and they do a good job of sticking to their mission. Dancing Mule makes all of their pumpkin spice flavoring in house, which is a good selling point. The pumpkin flavor on this one was pretty subtle, however, so we're calling this one the PSL to order if you aren't the biggest "pumpkin" fan. The latte itself was good, and look at that latte art!

Order this drink if:
- You want a non-snobby atmosphere that is very age inclusive.
- You like the idea of a PSL more than you like overbearing pumpkin flavors.
- You want local coffee and a drive-thru (yes! They have a drive-thru! 🙌🏻)

Eurasia Coffee & Tea's 'Pumpkin Spice Latte'

Eurasia served up a smooth PSL that reminded us of pumpkin pie. Unlike some others, you could taste the pumpkin in this drink, which was nice. Eurasia also has a fantastic food menu, so if you're considering eating anything alongside your PSL, this is a great stop for you. I should have snapped a photo of the breakfast sandwich I had, but it was gone too soon!

Order this drink if:
- you want a good deal on a PSL (I don't recall the exact price, but I think this one was in the $3.50 range!)
- you want a super yummy meal with your coffee
- you want to Instagram your friend Stephanie (or just anything in general). Eurasia has a gorgeous space.

European Cafe's 'Pumpkin Pie Latte' 

In European Cafe's words, their Pumpkin Pie Latte is their version of pumpkin spice everything. They use so many local ingredients; here's their full list: "fresh local pumpkin, whole organic spices, local milk and homemade honey whipped cream". The drink also comes topped with nutmeg streusel crumb, and was the only PSL to come with. a. spoon. While the topping was incredible, it made me crave pumpkin pie, so much so that I was disappointed to find coffee underneath instead of liquid pie. (Liquid pie sounds gross but I bet it is really good, OK?)

Order this drink if:
- You want to 'gram a truly decadent-looking latte.
- You want to try a true European-style pastry with it (less sweet than U.S. pastries, but so tasty).
- You want to admire the local art and have a solid people-watching spot in downtown Springfield.

Mudhouse Coffee's 'Pumpkin Spice Latte'

Mudhouse was one of the first coffee shops in downtown Springfield's recent memory. Since they opened in 1998, they've been a staple downtown for teens and college students to both accomplish some homework and hang out past curfew. Mudhouse's PSL was, in our opinion, out shined by their very, very good hot lavender latte, which is usually available in the spring. The lavender latte is tops; you should try it.

Order this drink if:
- You're looking for a college-town environment with funky lights and decor.
- You want to play a board game with your friends while drinking a PSL (Mudhouse usually keeps a small section of games and magazines for coffee shop entertainment)
- They were out of lavender lattes or peanut butter puddles. (I first sipped a peanut butter puddle circa age 16 and I will never not like them).

Traveller's House Coffee and Tea's 'Pumpkin Pie Latte'

This drank gave me extreme nostalgia over something I couldn't put my finger on. Something from my college years, for sure, but I have no idea what. To us, this drink tasted a little more like pumpkin pancakes than pumpkin pie, but we're not complaining. It definitely had some maple going on. 

Order this drink if:
- You're looking for a friendly, welcoming atmosphere.
- You're willing to wait for a seat by the window to 'gram your latte.
- You want to pair your pumpkin latte with a pumpkin scone — Traveller's House serves up a pumpkin scone so good that folks are naming their children after it. That's just what I've heard.

RUNNER UP: Starbucks Coffee's "Pumpkin Spice Latte" (yes, really, I was surprised too)

While I will 100% support a local shop before choosing a chain, Starbucks invented the PSL, and apparently they've had a lot of time to perfect it. I didn't realize it came topped with whipped cream, which I thought I wouldn't be a fan of, but... guys, it was good. In Stephanie's words, "It tastes straight up like a piece of pumpkin pie. It's like Thanksgiving is dancing in my mouth." Starbucks got some votes for the people's choice awards, too, so clearly we're not the only ones to admit it's pretty dang good. The one negative about Starbucks' PSL is that it wasn't as consistent as some others — the bottom of the drink tasted more sugary than the rest of it. Also it's pretty orange which didn't bother Stephanie but did bother me. (I know pumpkin is orange but it seems strange for a coffee drink to be that orange under the whipped cream.)

Order this drink if:
- whipped cream. Even if you think you don't want it, you do.
- You're anywhere, in any state, at (nearly) any time. I haven't tried all of the Starbucks PSLs to determine their consistency (and I don't want to!), but I'm guessing they're pretty on point with that.
- You want to taste a nice pumpkin flavor. Nice.

AND THE WINNER IS.... Kingdom Coffee's Pumpkin Spice Latte

You know when you meet that man (or woman) that you compare all subsequent men (or women) to? That was us with Kingdom's PSL. I was afraid I was going to have a bias toward this drink, because I go to this shop a lot and love it, but Stephanie rarely goes to Kingdom and she agreed that it was the best of the best. The pumpkin spice is made in house, and it tasted both like an actual coffee drink and a pumpkin flavored drink. It was super smooth, not heavy, and in Stephanie's words "has a nice mouth feel". 10/10, would drink the whole thing. (And we did). We both had people tell us that Kingdom's was their favorite, too, so we're not the only ones!

Order this drink if:
- You want to drink what's (in our opinions) the best PSL in town.
- Need I say more? Just go get one.

Thanks for sticking around and following our crazy little #SGFPSL project. We've had a lot of fun (and coffee), and if you have a PSL in town, we'd love for you to use the hashtag and join in!

P.S. If you're into coffee and liked this post you might also like this one.


  1. Love this! I can't wait until my Whole30 is over because PSL here I come! Thanks for the great list, I haven't checked out Kingdom yet, but I've heard good things so looks like I have a reason for my patronage now.

    1. Thank you!! Kingdom is fantastic; I hope you try it and like it! Even while you're on Whole30 — I had a cold brew from them the other day and it was great, too. :)