These days, the coming of fall is synonymous with pumpkin spice season — thanks to the Pumpkin Spice Latte that Starbucks released back in 2003. Since then, the flavor team behind Starbucks has been coming out with many creative drinks, such as the Strawberry Funnel Cake drink served over the summer. Now, their much anticipated fall-themed drinks have arrived, and they are all quite different from the regular pumpkin drinks.

Apple Crisp Macchiato

This is an all around original flavor — not only did they approach a fruity-dessert special, but they’ve made it in macchiato form. Most other holiday-season drinks have been lattes. In Starbucks terminology, the macchiato approaches layers of espresso, steamed milk and foam, whereas the latte blends them together. That is exactly how they advertised the Apple Crisp Macchiato: “Layered flavors of caramelized apple, bold espresso and brown sugar.” As a barista at the Canyon Crest Towne Center explains, it’s “our Apple Brown Sugar syrup, 2% milk, some espresso and drizzled with spiced apple.”

Right when you open the lid from the macchiato, the scent explodes. I’ve never quite had a Starbucks drink like that. You can definitely pick up notes of apple syrup. The top of it is absolutely an apple sensation. It tastes just like the sweet cream they use on cold brews because of how thick and sweet it is — but it really is just 2% milk foam and syrup. As it is a layered drink, most of the apple flavor will remain at the top. As you continue to drink from the bottom, you get that familiar espresso-latte base found in every crafted Starbucks drink. Of course, you can stir it if that’s how you like it, though be aware of how addictive that top layer can get.

Whether you pick up on the apple or not depends on your personal palette. Fourth-year biology major Inshirah Kawser tried it out for herself and said she couldn’t sense caramelized apple from the espresso itself. We might have different experiences with coffee though. I, a borderline unhealthy consumer of coffee, sensed apples and caramel all the way to the end. It’s in fact one of the sweetest Starbucks drinks I’ve had.

If your taste is more like Inshirah’s, you can ask for a single shot or no espresso at all. The coffee won’t mask the apple so much. If you’re like me, I’d recommend getting it in a tall size since the sweetness can be overbearing.

Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew

This is a comeback since 2019 and is actually one of my favorite Starbucks drinks. It is a flavored drink but is not overly-sweet like the holiday lattes tend to be. I would recommend this to other coffee drinkers with an underdeveloped sweet tooth who want something that isn’t just espresso and milk. It has been well received among Starbucks consumers. Just like the Apple Crisp Macchiato, the pumpkin flavor doesn’t come from the brew. It’s their custom Pumpkin Cream Cold Foam that they layer on top, along with the pumpkin spice topping, that brings in the taste. I personally like to stir it a little so it’s gradually blended. 

Starbucks is not the only cafe to come out with fall specials. The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf has a whole array of pumpkin drinks: Pumpkin Latte, Pumpkin Cold Brew, Pumpkin Blended Ice and Pumpkin Spiced Chai Latte, which I have tried and would also recommend. And if you find yourself at my all-time favorite coffee chain, Peet’s, try out their Maple Latte.