Mistakes You're Making When Ordering A PSL

‌Ah, Starbucks. Best noted for its warm and inviting coffee flavors and excitingly bold iced coffee sips, this company has really turned into the best of the best when it comes to chain coffee shops, and it certainly knows how to keep customers coming back. Among its success is the release of the pumpkin spice latte, affectionately referred to by the acronym "PSL," which first debuted in 2003, and has remained one of the most popular seasonal sips Starbucks has ever churned out.

And though you may be accustomed to ordering a PSL the standard way year after year, we've got some interesting tricks that may make fall-time slurping that much more exciting. From uniquely customizing the drink to scoring free merch, we've spilled the beans on all the best tips to making your PSL that much better this season. Cozy up and get ready. These tips are too tasty to miss.

Forgetting you can get it keto

Yep, you heard it — you can actually order a keto pumpkin spice latte. Although we'll forewarn you, you may not like ordering it (and your barista may get a bit confused). Either way, we want you to know that using just a few of the following tricks can help you score a low-carb drink, even if it does involve somewhat of a tongue-twisting combination.

To pull it off, order a grande chai tea with two shots of espresso added right in. To this, add a splash of heavy cream along with one pump of sugar-free vanilla syrup and extra pumpkin spice topping (for that coveted fall-time flavor). That's it! Enjoy a deliciously low-carb drink that packs all the sweet and relaxing essences of fall without having to take in a ton of carbs while doing it. It may not be the cheapest option, but hey, if you want to indulge yourself every once in a while, this recipe could be worth the occasional added expense. Enjoy!

Not adding flavored shots to your PSL

Tired of the same hum-drum routine when it comes to pumpkin spice flavors? While it's true that most of us can't resist the allure of pumpkin spice, it's also true that it may leave your palette craving something a bit different once you've had it enough times. A good solution to this dilemma is to simply add additional flavor shots to your average PSL drink. No, this isn't for those of you looking to cut back on sugar, but one tiny pump of a little something different can make all the difference in the world when it comes to adding a fun twist to the typical pumpkin spice latte taste.

So, which should you choose? We'd steer away from fruity-flavored syrups and instead, ask for a shot of something a little more subtle. Try an extra pump of vanilla, mocha, caramel, hazelnut, or cinnamon dolce to get you started. Any of these choices will give your PSL the unsuspecting taste of something totally unique, which just might turn into a new way to order your fall-inspired latte that you'll absolutely love.

Forgetting you can switch up the milk

One way in which we love customizing our PSL is to switch up the milk from time to time. Starbucks has several dairy-free options, including oatmilk, almond milk, coconut milk, and soy milk at participating locations. And while you may be a bit skeptical to try these — especially if you aren't feuding with dairy — the truth is that switching out the milk is yet another way to spice up the experience of drinking this iconic fall latte.

Coconut milk, for example, is a great option for adding a slight ... well ... coconutty flavor to your latte. And while this might not sound appealing at first, you may just be surprised at how delicious this subtle twist can be. Another great substitute is oatmilk. Oatmilk isn't only gentler on the stomach for some, but it's also an incredibly creamy light-tasting option when you're in the mood for sampling something different. It also packs a very subtle taste, so you won't need to worry about any weird flavors making an entrance when subbing regular milk with oatmilk. Don't forget about other milk options like breve (half and half) and non-fat; they're all available at most Starbucks locations. 

Not trying the cheaper version of the PSL

‌Those of us who just can't get enough of the pumpkin spice latte can probably agree on at least one con about the drink, and that's its price. Of course, a single order of a PSL won't exactly break the bank, but spending five bucks or more on a pumpkin spice latte daily (or multiple times a day) can get rather pricey over time.

The fix? While you might not exactly be able to come up with a cheap concoction that tastes exactly like an original PSL, there are ways you can make your standard cup of joe taste more pumpkin-y than usual for only a fraction of the cost. For example, you can try adding a pump of pumpkin spice sauce to a warm cup of black coffee with cream, or you can do the same thing with your iced coffee. Adjust the number of pumps by how strong you want the pumpkin flavor to be. Just know that the more pumps you use, the sweeter your drink will taste, which may or may not be everyone's cup of tea (or coffee). Bear in mind that your flavor shots will cost a bit extra, but the shots alone still won't likely add up to the typical price of a PSL. Thus, this hack can help scratch that itch for the warm pumpkin flavor of the fall without giving your wallet a beating in the process.

Forgetting your PSL can come iced or blended

When most of us think about a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks, a warm frothy cup of autumn-scented coffee comes to mind. And while this is certainly a reality for most, the truth is that you can also order the pumpkin spice latte iced or blended for an equally delicious, though much chillier way, to enjoy the drink.

As you might imagine, the iced pumpkin spice latte will come much like a typical iced latte with ice-cold milk, swirled with fun fall pumpkin flavors and coffee before it is generously topped with heaps of whipped cream, and a sprinkling of pumpkin spice to top things off. This version will come in the form of a Frappuccino, blended with pumpkin spice syrup, Starbucks coffee and ice, before it is then topped with a mountain of whipped cream and pumpkin spice.

Also, if you've got pumpkin cold foam available at the Starbucks location in your area, be sure to take advantage of adding that pumpkin cold foam to any of your iced pumpkin drinks. This is a fun alternative to whipped cream that might suit those of you who'd rather not get a mouthful of the creamy stuff. Enjoy!

Not trying secret menu variations of the drink

We've already dished the insider tips on enhancing your pumpkin spice latte with flavor shots. But let's redirect your focus now to a duo of "secret menu" delights that involve swapping out some of that delectably sweet pumpkin spice syrup. The result? A distinct beverage that will undoubtedly have your taste buds begging for an encore.

The first drink, known as the Cinderella latte, requires that you order a regular PSL before replacing half of your standard pumpkin syrup with half white mocha sauce. The results are pumpkin-chocolate flavors swirled together and topped with light and fluffy whipped cream to make all your "dreams come true" right there in a single cup.

The second secret menu variation of the PSL is the "Great Pumpkin" Latte. This one gets its name from the Peanuts cartoon, "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," and features a blend of pumpkin and toffee nut flavors. To pull this one off, you'll do the same thing you did with the Cinderella, only with toffee nut instead of chocolate. We don't know about you, but these secret menu "hacks" have us salivating at the sound. Try one of them as opposed to your normal PSL order and you just might find another fall option to adore.

Sticking with the same basic type of espresso

‌Did you know you could swap out the type of espresso you get for a totally different PSL experience? Starbucks adds brewed espresso to its pumpkin spice drinks, but you can actually opt to have blonde espresso thrown in instead for a unique twist on the ordinary pumpkin spice taste.

According to Starbucks baristas, the blonde espresso can be described as lighter, sweeter, and more subtle when it comes to flavor. But don't let those attributes scare you off if you love the coffee flavor. The blonde still packs plenty of good coffee taste, so you'll still be able to enjoy that roasted essence, even if it is on the smoother side. Will this be everyone's go-to substitution? Probably not. But we're willing to bet a lot of you will enjoy this less bitter-tasting alternative to typical flavored pumpkin spice drinks. To make ordering this drink easier, you can even call it by its online menu name, the "Blonde Pumpkin Spice Latte".

Not getting an extra shot thrown in

While most people order the pumpkin spice latte to take advantage of its full-on aggressive autumn flavor, we think there's certainly no harm in giving this cozy favorite an energy boost when needed. Yes, the PSL naturally packs an ample supply of caffeine, but if you find yourself really dragging in the morning, it might be worth it to ask for an extra shot or two to be thrown in for that much-needed caffeinated wake up call to help get you about your day.

You will want to note that while adding extra espresso shots may keep you energized, it may also slightly alter the taste of your PSL, especially if you go for multiple shots. Keep this in mind when adding them, as your pumpkin spice latte may begin to taste a bit bolder on the coffee side of things, and may even begin to lose its flavorful fall-time pumpkin spice nuances due to the espresso's overpowering flavor.

Forgetting you can ask for extra spice

‌Adding additional pumpkin spice or extra cinnamon may have never crossed your mind, but it really is a flavorful and fun way to deepen the flavors in your pumpkin spice drink, and make it that much more appealing. Now, there's a bit of controversy surrounding this tip, specifically in terms of method and cost. For some stores, there's been a bit of confusion surrounding whether employees should apply an upcharge for light toppings like these or whether they should be added for free. 

Keeping that in mind, you shouldn't be surprised if your drink costs a little extra, but it's also possible that your barista will provide the extra spice free of charge. Additionally, make sure you specify whether you want your added spice mixed into the drink or simply added on top. Your barista will be happy to do either, provided that you supply these instructions upfront. You're welcome!

Forgetting other Starbucks pumpkin drinks exist outside of the PSL

Those of us who are truly devoted to the pumpkin spice latte aren't going to be easily won over by some "Johnny-come-lately" fall pumpkin drink thrown at us on a whim, right? Having said that, Starbucks (and other restaurants) have come up with some pretty interesting fall-themed drink offerings over the years, and some of them are actually quite good!

Drinks will vary by year, but we have to give a special shoutout to creations like the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew or even the Pumpkin Spice Chai Tea Latte. Even those who hate pumpkin flavors (and thus loathe this time of the year) have a shot at scoring an awesome drink, as Starbucks has also introduced drinks like the Apple Crisp Oatmilk Macchiato to give you a hint of fall flavor without having to be slapped with that same pumpkin flavor that plagues PSL critics every year. It's truly a win-win. So, be sure to get your hands on a little something different from time to time during the fall season. You may be surprised at what new autumn-inspired drink you'll fall in love with next.

Not getting it made in your own cup

‌As if Starbucks wasn't already awesome enough, this dynamic national coffee chain has also made it possible for consumers to get their favorite drinks made in their very own cups. Not only will Starbucks do this for you, but it will reward you for it, as well, offering 10 cents off your drink and 25 points in member points.

Of course, we should note here that not all cups are feasible for every Starbucks drink, so it's important that you align your choice of cup with your drink type. For example, you won't want your barista to make your favorite Frappuccino in a small mug any more than you'd want to put a steaming hot coffee in a thin plastic cup. Think carefully before you choose which reusable cup you'll use for the drink you've chosen, and don't forget that many Starbucks shops have amazing-looking reusable cups sold right in the shop. Awesome, right?

Forgetting Starbucks rewards for free coffee

‌Speaking of membership points, if you haven't yet signed up for the Starbucks program, you need to — pronto. This is especially true if you're an avid coffee drinker, as all those PSLs could mean a boatload of membership perks for you, just for doing what you do best ... ordering coffee.

So, how do you get started on your journey to winning freebies and scoring tons of other fabulous perks? It's easy. According to Starbucks' website, you simply need to create an account, order, pay as you normally would, and you'll start earning points. It's that simple. And remember, it doesn't really matter how you pay, as long as you order and apply it to your membership account at the time of purchase. Choose from a wide variety of free grabs from free drinks all the way up to scoring free Starbucks merch. It's all possible when you have the Starbucks membership so be sure to hurry and sign up, especially if you plan to make multiple stops at Starbucks to get your pumpkin fix during the fall season.

Always defaulting to the grande size option

If you've ever ordered at a Starbucks and forgot to specify the size, you may have seen your barista automatically enter the drink as a "grande." And while this isn't a problem for most folks, many forget the variety of sizes that Starbucks offers. Of course, most of us know about the venti size, which contains 24 ounces of pure goodness in each cup, but many forget about other sizes that aren't usually advertised. 

One size, the "trenta" (31 ounces), can sometimes be ordered when taking advantage of cold drinks sold at Starbucks. While it may not be featured on the Starbucks menu, some locations may still offer drinks this big if you request it. The other not-so-well-known size, the "short", is only 8 ounces but makes the perfect sip when you just want the "taste" of coffee without all the jitter. Just know that ordering a short brew requires that the brew be warm; the short size, though convenient, is not offered for iced drinks.

Ordering your PSL scorching hot

Do you know what we hate? Ordering something as delicious as a warm and toasty pumpkin spice latte only to have our tongues burned to a crisp at first sip. Way to ruin the mood, Starbucks! Thankfully, there's a way around that, even if you feel like a dud the first few times you try it. 

When ordering your PSL, or any other "warm" Starbucks drink for that matter, consider asking your barista to make the drink "child's temp" or "kid's temperature" to keep your drink from coming out too hot. This way, you're able to enjoy all those lovely, spiced nuances of the drink from the very first sip rather than having to impatiently wait for your PSL to cool with its top off if you're in the car. Yes, ordering it this way will feel awkward at first, but once you realize its benefits, you probably won't stop. And what's better is that most baristas have absolutely no qualms with the request. Sweet!

Not remembering that less is more

Let's face it — we all know that PSL is ridiculously high in sugar. Despite this, many of us can't help but go for a slurp of it, even if it does happen multiple times a day. Still, taking in too much sugar, especially daily, could spell trouble for our health down the road if we aren't careful, and can even cause diabetes and heart disease (via Harvard Health). Thankfully, there's a way to lower the amount of sugar and calories in your pumpkin spice latte without having to conjure up a ridiculous order to do it.

The solution? Simply order less syrup! Each Starbucks latte comes with a standard number of syrup pumps that go in the drink. These syrup pumps are what make the drink so flavorful and sweet. When you go for less, you'll automatically cut the sugar, carb, and calorie count. How many pumps come standard with your drink will actually depend on the drink's size and temperature, so it may be best to start low (say 1 pump for a tall or 1 to 2 pumps for a grande) and adjust from there. It'll be a little less sweet but will still allow you to enjoy a subtle pumpkin flavor.