Thinking outside the PSL

WARMING TREND: Trade and Lore's Gingersnap Cap is a blend of ginger, molasses, cinnamon, cardamom and rum extract. “Nothing says autumn like the warmth of ginger and molasses,” says barista and drink creator Luke Van Hine.
WARMING TREND: Trade and Lore's Gingersnap Cap is a blend of ginger, molasses, cinnamon, cardamom and rum extract. “Nothing says autumn like the warmth of ginger and molasses,” says barista and drink creator Luke Van Hine. Photo by Van Hine

Ah, autumn. The season for cozy sweaters, apple picking, foliage admiring and, of course, pumpkin spice … everything. The pumpkin spice latte, in particular, is so pervasive that it has become synonymous with all things basic. (Google the beverage, and you’ll find a lot of jokes about white girls in yoga pants guzzling Starbucks and telling you their favorite things about fall.)

Well, we’re not here to hate on the pumpkin spice craze. Who doesn’t want a cup of caffeinated, drinkable pumpkin pie? But we are here to tell you that if you’re looking for a hot, delicious drink with prominent fall flavors, you’ve got choices.

The Rhu: Cinnamon latte 
The Rhu’s cinnamon latte is understated autumnal elegance in a cup. If you’re looking for a latte that feels like fall without the bells and whistles, this one’s for you. Espresso from Methodical Coffee shines in this drink, and it has just the right amount of cinnamon. “We make it from scratch up in our bakery,” says Rhu barista Caroline Bluhm. “It’s a simmered simple syrup and cinnamon. We use real cinnamon sticks to get that really pronounced flavor.” And while you’re standing in front of Rhu’s bakery case, I’d like to see you try and stop yourself from ordering an apple galette, brown sugar cruffin or cinnamon-sugar cake doughnut. (Except don’t try too hard — they’re supertasty, and you definitely want to eat them all.) Cost: $4.50

Vortex Doughnuts: ABC apple-butter cappuccino 
We all know that Vortex sells delicious, handmade, imminently Instagram-able rings of fried dough that can make a grown person drool. But did you know this doughnut shop is also a great place to grab a cup of coffee? Next time you’re feeling festive, grab an ABC apple-butter cappuccino. The drink is a traditional-sized cappuccino sweetened with house-made apple butter and topped with a dusting of allspice. The smooth, apple-y sweetness of this drink will make you glad to say sayonara to summer, and the espresso from 1000 Faces never disappoints. Vortex manager Eli Masem says Vortex probably won’t offer a pumpkin spice latte this season, “but we will be serving pumpkin cake doughnuts for all of October topped with a drizzle of chocolate and salted and roasted pepitas.” We’ll take it, Eli! Cost: $4.25 

Bim Beri Bon: Turmeric ginger latte 
Bim Beri Bon just opened Sept. 1, and the Haywood Road restaurant is already hard at work slinging superfood lattes you’ve never heard of but should totally try. The turmeric-ginger latte features turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper, ginger and honey. “You have to have ginger and pepper with turmeric to get the health benefits,” says Bim Beri Bon co-owner Mitch Orland, adding that the inspirations behind the unique lattes are “health, fun and deliciousness.” The drink is just sweet enough, and the heat from the pepper and ginger will wake you up even without the coffee. “A lot of people don’t know that latte means milk. … We are trying to make lattes more healthy than just coffee and milk, using flavors that are not only good for your health but are also beautiful,” says Orland. Cost: $5

Odd’s Café: Pumpkin pie latte 
We’re not sure how Odd’s pumpkin pie latte sneaked in here, but we’re not complaining. As owner Audrey Blomquist points out, this drink isn’t your average PSL. “The Odd’s pumpkin pie latte is more than espresso and a few spices,” she says. “It has real pumpkin purée, eight different spices and condensed milk for added sweetness and creaminess.” Blomquist took inspiration for the recipe from a pumpkin pie that she made years ago for an office party. “You don’t forget the flavors and texture of your first, successful pumpkin pie,” she says. The resulting texture is smoother and thicker than a normal latte and functions as a satisfying, liquid dessert. Cost: $4.15

Trade & Lore: Gingersnap Cap 
Trade & Lore is known for its rotating specials featuring creative and experimental coffee concoctions. The Gingersnap Cap is an ingenious meld of ginger, molasses, cinnamon, cardamom, and a hint of rum extract that will warm you up on a crisp fall day. “Nothing says autumn like the warmth of ginger and molasses,” says barista and drink creator Luke Van Hine. A bold statement, but you know what? After tasting this beauty, we aren’t going to fight him on it. The Gingersnap Cap can be served with whole milk or the shop’s new milk alternative, Oatly. “If you please, add a house-made gingersnap cookie for dipping,” adds Van Hine. This guy really knows what to say. Cost: $4.75

High Five: Caramel chai cider
What could be more autumnal than apples and caramel? How about combining the deliciousness of caramel and apple cider with the warmth of High Five’s satisfyingly spicy and never-too-sweet, house-made chai? The caramel-chai cider includes organic apple-ginger juice, house-made browned-butter caramel made with Farm to Home cream and Madagascar vanilla bean. “We always look for balance when we create any High Five drink recipe,” says manager Emily Peele. “The caramel cider has a strong ginger backbone, which combines really nicely with the buttery finish of our house caramel.” (The shop also offers an amazing spiced pumpkin latte with a savory, rich pumpkin sauce. They know what the people want.) Cost: $3.85

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About Lea McLellan
Lea McLellan is a freelance writer who likes to write stories about music, art, food, wellness and interesting locals doing interesting things.

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