Known by The Wall Street Journal as “the drink that almost wasn’t,” the now-ubiquitous Pumpkin Spice Latte — or #psl, as it’s known on Twitter and among devoted fans — was dreamed up in Starbucks R&D labs in 2003. Since then, copycat and DIY versions of the fall favorite have cropped up everywhere, from artsy coffee houses to 7-Eleven’s instant “specialty beverage”-dispensing machine.
But what’s the best brew for your buck? Panera Bread’s offering is the richest, topped with whipped cream and salted caramel syrup and weighing in at 450 calories, while the Starbucks original costs the most at nearly $5 for a medium-sized drink. Both Starbucks and Panera recently responded to public criticism about artificial ingredients in their drinks by adding real pumpkin puree to their recipes.
You’ll get the most spice per ounce at 7-Eleven, where a 16-ounce specialty beverage costs only $1.55, but purists beware: You’ll be pushing a button to dispense your pre-mixed PSL.
*Prices do not include tax and may vary by location.