6 Ways to Get a Pumpkin Spice Latte for Less
Whether or not the start of fall brings cooler temps to your neck of the woods, the season is marked universally with the annual rollout of Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte. It’s back now for the 18th consecutive year with the ever-so-popular mix of espresso, steamed milk, real pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove.
While “skipping the Starbucks” is often touted as a way to save money, you can still enjoy this fall flavor without blowing your budget. Here’s how to save money on the PSL and other fall drinks all autumn long.
How to Save Money on Pumpkin Spice Lattes
1. Join Starbucks Rewards
Join Starbucks Rewards to start getting free drinks — including PSLs. You earn one star for every dollar you spend if you pay as you go with cash or a debit or credit card. Pay on a preloaded digital Starbucks Card on the app and get two stars per $1 spent.
(You get three stars per $1 if you use the Starbucks Rewards Visa card, but The Penny Hoarder isn’t a fan of too many rewards credit cards.)
Along with getting free brewed coffee and tea refills, Starbucks Rewards members get a free custom drink, such as that Pumpkin Spice Latte, when they earn 150 points.
That means spending $150 or $75 depending on how you pay. Yes, that’s a good chunk of change to spend to get a reward, so remember that it’s pretty easy to rack up a bill at Starbucks without even realizing it.
2. Buy Discounted Starbucks Gift Cards
As of this writing, you can save as much as 9% on a Starbucks gift card on CardCookie. A $50 card, for example, costs $45.50.
3. Join My Panera
Starbucks isn’t the only chain offering up a sweet fall latte. Panera Bread just debuted its Cinnamon Crunch Latte. It’s freshly brewed espresso, foamed milk and cinnamon syrup topped with whipped cream and cinnamon sugar. And the popular chain has its own My Panera rewards program that offers discounts and free stuff.
4. Celebrate Your Fall Birthday
If you’re a member of Starbucks Rewards, you’ll enjoy a free drink on your birthday. If your birthday is in the fall, why not make it a pumpkin spice latte?
Dunkin Donuts also offers free birthday drinks through its DD Perks Rewards program and has an extensive pumpkin spice menu.
Many other cafes also offer free birthday drinks, so if you find yourself at a coffee shop with pumpkiny concoctions on your birthday, be sure to ask!
5. Make a DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte
Indulge in a pumpkin spice latte anytime with this great do-it-yourself recipe from Farmgirl Gourmet. This recipe makes two 10-ounce lattes, so you can share one with a friend.
- 2 cups milk
- 4 tablespoons canned (or homemade) pumpkin puree
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 cup strong coffee or espresso
- whipped cream
Stir the milk, pumpkin puree, sugar, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice together in a pan over medium-high heat. Bring it almost to a boil, but avoid boiling (that will make it too thick). Stir constantly, and it should start to froth in about a minute.
Pour the concoction into two mugs, then slowly add the strong coffee or espresso, pouring it in by the edge of the cup so that the milk stays frothy. Add whipped cream and a dash of pumpkin pie spice on top, and indulge in your homemade creation.
6. Make DIY Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer
This simple recipe from Delish requires just five ingredients and produces 1-3/4 cups of pumpkin spice creamer to add to your coffee.
- 1-1/2 cups heavy cream or half-and-half
- 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 or 2 cinnamon sticks
Whisk together the heavy cream or half-and-half, pumpkin puree, maple syrup and pumpkin pie spice in a small pan over medium heat. Add a cinnamon stick or two and turn the heat up a bit until it boils, whisking occasionally.
After a minute, take it off the heat and let it cool for about five minutes before you add it to your coffee.
According to Delish, the leftover creamer will keep in your refrigerator for a week, but be sure to give it a good shake before using.
Kristen Pope is a former contributor to The Penny Hoarder.