OWH Video extra: Starbucks taste test

11 Nov

Yesterday Rainbow Rowell, newsroom Starbucks expert, and I did a little taste on behalf of Starbucks lovers everywhere. I’d been reading online about a lot of recipes that claimed to re-create the deliciousness that are Starbucks seasonal drinks. I wanted to try to make my own Pumpkin Spice Latte at home. I also wanted to try to make the gingerbread latte. But I didn’t want to try them alone, so I asked Rainbow to come and be my taster.

(also, full disclosure, I’m short. See me at left, standing on a box so I can be the same height as Rainbow.)

Click the link below to watch our taste test.


(Spoiler alert!)

So yeah. My drinks sucked. Rainbow was kind in saying my Gingerbread Latte reminded her of a cinnamon dolce latte. It didn’t remind me of anything at Starbucks, let alone anything good. And the Pumpkin Spice Latte I made was truly terrible in every way. It turned out thin, grey and strangely scented. Rainbow hit the nail on the head when she said it tasted like raw pumpkin. And even though I  followed the recipes to a tee, the homemade drinks simply weren’t the same. They weren’t as thick as Starbucks. Not as full-flavored. Not as prettily colored. They were bland, to put it kindly. Check out my pumpkin spice latte below next to the real deal. Uhh. No contest.

I guess that $4 and change for a seasonal treat is actually worth it.

I went ahead and printed the recipes I used below, because I figured some innovative reader out there might be able to improve upon them. If you have better luck than I did, please let me know in the comments.

And special thanks to Rainbow for being a good sport (though she did walk out with a free Gingerbread latte. I’m still sort of jealous of that.)

Pumpkin Spice Latte
makes 1-2 servings

2 cups milk
2 tbsp canned pumpkin or 1 tsp of Torani pumpkin spice syrup
2 tbsp sugar or sugar substitute
2 tbsp vanilla extract
1-2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1-2 shots espresso or strong coffee

In a saucepan, combine milk, pumpkin and sugar and cook on medium heat, stirring until the mixture is steaming. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and spice, and whisk well with a wire whisk until completely blended. Pour into one or two mugs. Add the espresso and top with whipped cream and cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice or nutmeg, if desired.

Gingerbread Latte
makes 2 servings

To make the gingerbread syrup:
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Make the gingerbread syrup by combining all the above ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for 15 minutes. Remove from heat.

Add 1/2 cup of espresso or strong brewed coffee to a mug, then add 1/4 cup gingerbread syrup, and top with steamed milk. Stir and top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg.


One Response to “OWH Video extra: Starbucks taste test”

  1. Kate November 11, 2011 at 11:07 pm #

    It’s definitely tricky to match their drinks (probably impossible…). 🙂 I’ve had a little luck using fresh pumpkin puree instead of canned, though — it gives a nice, strong pumpkin taste, and some good orange color. Then I just add spices and sugar to taste in the latte.

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