NEW YORK CITY Fall is three weeks away, so naturally the Pumpkin Spice Latte is already showing up fashionably early. But this year, the classic PSL is joined by a new, slightly spicier pal: the Chile Mocha.
And here’s some more exciting news, especially for alternative milk drinkers: Starbucks is finally introducing almond milk to its customers.
I recently visited the Starbucks on 26th Street in Chelsea to try the new fall beverages, which are rolling out throughout September, starting Thursday in some cases.
Here’s the breakdown on Starbucks’ 2016 fall additions:
The Chile Mocha
Let me start by saying this drink is much less terrifying than the name implies.
I met with Mackenzie Karr, a coffee & tea education specialist for Starbucks, who broke the Chile Mocha down for Mashable:Cocoa powder is infused with fall spices, mixed into steamed milk and then added to espresso. The liquid gets topped with whipped cream, cayenne pepper, ancho chile, paprika, cinnamon, sugar and sea salt.
While combining chile spices with chocolate is actually quite traditional in some cuisines, the Chile Mocha is Starbucks’ first attempt at adding hot spices to a beverage. The drink was surprisingly sweet and only subtly spicy a “kiss of heat” or “PSL’s hot new friend,” Karr said.
So, people who don’t typically like spicy foods: No need to beware. My tastebuds can hardly handle hot sauce, but the chocolatey Chile Mocha was more than bearable.
And for anyone who doesn’t identify with the PSL movement but secretly loves its flavors, this spicy upgrade from the PSL may be your new fall drink.
On Sept. 6, the Chile Mocha officially launches nationwide. On Sept. 3, Starbucks Rewards loyalty members will learn how they can get early access to the drink.
The Pumpkin Spice Latte
Despite my affinity for Ugg boots, infinity scarves and pumpkin-flavored treats, this was my first time trying the Pumpkin Spice Latte.
The pumpkin-espresso concoction was, simply put, sweet and delicious. It barely had the overwhelming coffee flavor I was
dreading predicting as someone who very rarely consumes the magic bean.
Karr describes the PSL as an, “approachable, entry level beverage for people who don’t drink coffee.”
This is the PSL’s 13th year, and only its second season being made with real pumpkin as opposed to pumpkin spices.
Starbucks is officially launching the 2016 PSL nationwide on Sept. 6. But for Starbucks Rewards loyalty members and those following @therealPSL on Twitter, you may be able to get early access to PSLs starting Sept. 1.
Next up: Both of the fall drinks, but with almond milk. Starbucks can now customize any brew to include almond milk, in addition to coconut milk (which was introduced last year) and soy milk. The almond milk is Starbucks’ own original recipe.
Almond milk came to Starbucks’ attention via My Starbucks Idea, where consumers can pitch what they’d like to see on Starbucks’ menu.
The almond milk buzz has already started, and the internet is pretty pumped.
The addition of almond milk seemed to make the flavors of the PSL and the Chile Mocha stronger, this is because, “it doesn’t have that natural sweetness, the texture’s a little bit lighter [than dairy milk], it has a creamy finish and…it’s got that nut-forward flavor,” Karr said.
I tried both the PSL and the Chile Mocha with almond milk. While I preferred the dairy versions, I enjoyed how substituting the less-sweet almond milk brought out the spices more, creating a stronger taste.
Almond milk debuts in New York Starbucks locations on Sept. 6, followed by a rollout across the country. It will be available nationwide by the end of September.
The Pumpkin Spice Latte and the Chile Mocha will be available as long as supplies last, while the almond milk is here to stay permanently.
The PSL and Chile Mocha will be available at Starbucks locations in the U.S. and Canada, and the PSL is also available in nearly 50 countries worldwide.
And if you’re thinking early September is too early for these fall drinks, save your snark: the PSL and Chile Mocha can also be served over ice or as a Frappuccino.
Happy early fall!