Pumpkin spice and everything nice

Amidst the insanely hot Riverside weather, it may seem difficult to get into the fall spirit. However, without fail, local campus coffee joints and smoothie bars are always serving up their own version of fallin a cup. So even if the heat can’t be beat, these pumpkin spice beverages are a sure proof way to kickstart the holiday season. 

To start off my morning, I decided to try The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf’s version of a pumpkin spice latte. Conveniently placed on campus at the HUB, this is the closest location for any student craving the coveted fall beverage. I ordered a small size with easy ice and substituted the dairy for oat milk through the app, which allows you skip the line and modify your drink to your liking. Priced at $5.30, this drink is a bit expensive if you want to try the dairy alternatives, but the location on campus makes up for this in the long run 一 especially if you need caffeine in a pinch before running to class. 

The drink itself was creamy and sweet with a good balance of flavor. There was no overwhelming bitterness from the espresso, leaving room for the spiciness of the cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin blend to really shine through. This is especially pleasing for those who aren’t huge fans of coffee but still need a pick me up to help them begin their day. And even if this is not you, The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf lets you lighten your beverage to fit your preference for sweetness. 

Later in the afternoon, I felt the caffeine from the morning slowly wear off. So, I decided to make my next stop at Starbucks for another boost of energy. And while the Market at Glen Mor has a Starbucks inside of the facility, it is still a bit far from the rest of the campus, meaning that students without a car would have to travel a longer distance on foot. However, compared to the other Starbucks locations on Blaine Street and University Avenue, this is still the most ideal spot for those who can’t travel long distances off-campus. 

I decided to order a small iced pumpkin spice latte with almond milk priced at $5.55 in order to compare with the latte I had previously. Unfortunately, while I wish I could have had a similar experience to that morning, that was not the case. I felt that the espresso flavor was far too overpowering in the drink, which caused me to miss any sort of pumpkin spice taste that was supposed to be present. However, similar to The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Starbucks lets you modify the flavoring of your drink. So in the future and for anyone interested in trying their version of this fall classic, I would opt for a modification especially for those who prefer a more balanced taste.  

Toward the end of my day, I was looking for a healthier option to have after my workout. Fortunately down Canyon Crest Drive, Nekter Juice Bar is serving up a seasonal pumpkin spice smoothie! And although this location requires you to drive off-campus, it’s perfect for those who want a healthy alternative, but don’t want to sacrifice partaking in the fall festivities. 

I placed my order for a small pumpkin spice smoothie and substituted the bananas for mangos. Priced at $6.85 一 the most expensive beverage of the day 一 I was pleasantly surprised at how delicious this drink was. Consisting of house-made cashew milk, dates, pure pumpkin puree, bananas, nutmeg and cinnamon, I thought this fall drink was the most traditional tasting and refreshing. I was also thoroughly impressed with their ability to offer an alternative to bananas due to my allergy and was shocked at how little the mango affected the overall taste of the smoothie. This is definitely something students should try before the season ends, because it is truly worth every sip. 

Of course, while it may not feel like fall here in Riverside, I highly recommend visiting any of these establishments and splurging on an autumn beverage to put you in the right frame of mind for the season.

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