How to Make a Pumpkin Spiced Latte - Coffee Life by EspressoWorks

Nothing says, “The holidays are upon us” more than a pumpkin spiced latte. One of the most popular and talked-about holiday coffee beverages of the 21st Century is this sweet and aromatic warm treat that has become synonymous with the arrival of the fall season.

The perfect companion to your holiday shopping (now mostly being done online), a pumpkin spiced latte combines elements of a traditional café latte — including espresso and hot milk — with the ingredients of pumpkin spice. The pumpkin spiced latte has existed both with and without actual pumpkin, but pumpkin or no pumpkin; this holiday drink’s popularity has been undeniable.

The History of Pumpkin Spiced Latte

Contrary to what its name implies, pumpkin spice isn’t derived primarily from pumpkin, but rather, combines a variety of spices. Some versions of pumpkin spice have included actual pumpkin; some haven’t. The spices that comprise what we now know as pumpkin spice — including cinnamon, clove, allspice and ginger — were first combined during the 20th Century. According to The Chicagoist, an early mention of pumpkin spice appeared in a recipe for “pumpkin spiced cakes” published by the Washington Post in 1936. That recipe from 84 years ago included actual pumpkin, but some subsequent pumpkin spice recipes didn’t.

McCormick, for example, unveiled a “pumpkin pie spice” during the 1950s that consisted of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cloves. The popularity of pumpkin spice continued to grow during the 1960s, and it was a big seller for McCormick and other spice companies. Along the way, the term “pumpkin pie spice” was shortened to simply “pumpkin spice.” But whether one calls it “pumpkin pie spice” or “pumpkin spice,” this delightful blend of ingredients has become a staple of the fall and winter months that reflects the cozy holiday feels that everyone craves. 

Beyond being a favorite bakery ingredient, the combination of cinnamon, ginger, clove, nutmeg and allspice is perfect when paired with the rich taste of coffee. It was in the 1990s that coffee shops began to experiment with variations of the pumpkin spiced latte; and it wasn’t before long that it became an annual holiday tradition that everyone anxiously awaits.

Pumpkin Spiced Latte Recipe

Ring in the holidays with a pumpkin spiced latte made right in your own home. Forget standing in line or overpaying for this specialty drink — get ready to immerse yourself in the holiday spirit with a pumpkin spice latte recipe that will get your bells jingling. All it takes is the right ingredients and equipment:


Servings: 2

  • 2 tablespoons, pumpkin purée 
  • 1/2 teaspoon, pumpkin pie spice. Use additional for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons, granulated sugar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup cold heavy cream, whipped into firm crests
  • 2 tablespoons, vanilla extract
  • 2 cups, whole milk
  • 1 to 2 shots, espresso (about 1/4 cup), or 1/3 to 1/2 cup strong coffee 


  • Mixer, whisk, or hand blender, to whip cream
  • Saucepan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Whisk
  • Blender
  • Espresso maker or coffee maker


Although real pumpkin isn’t absolutely essential with a pumpkin spiced latte, it makes the beverage extra special — and cooking the pumpkin is part of the holiday fun when making a pumpkin spiced latte at home. Take some inspiration from your Halloween pumpkin and gear up for the festive season ahead!

First, place the pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice and black pepper in a small saucepan on the stovetop and heat the combination on medium heat. Keep stirring constantly, and heat it for about two minutes. There are many different options when it comes to pumpkin pie spice; some versions, for example, include cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, lemon peel and cardamom.

Second, add sugar to the mixture, which should be taking on a syrup-like appearance at this point. Although white granulated or refined sugar is often used in pumpkin spiced lattes, raw turbinado sugar can be used instead if one prefers.

Third, heat the milk in a separate saucepan, adding vanilla to it. And stir the milk constantly in order to make sure that it doesn’t boil over.

Fourth, combine the contents of the two saucepans to create a frothy mixture. One can do this using either a hand blender or a regular blender.

Fifth, make some type of coffee, be it espresso or non-espresso coffee — and after the coffee is ready, pour it into two coffee mugs. Then, add all of the ingredients that have been combined to the mugs. And top them with whipped cream and a touch of pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg or cinnamon.

The end result is two delicious pumpkin spiced lattes to get you in the holiday mood.

Some variations are perfectly OK with this recipe. The milk, for example, could be anything from whole cow’s milk to 1% or skim cow’s milk to soy milk (either regular or vanilla) to almond milk. And there are many coffee options with pumpkin spiced lattes, from light roasts to medium roasts to darker roasts.

There is a reason why pumpkin spiced latte has become a holiday staple — it’s delicious and perfectly encapsulates the flavors of the fall and winter seasons. And with the right ingredients and equipment, this holiday favorite can be enjoyed and savored without leaving home.