‘Tis the season for the pumpkin spice latte, or PSL, for short. Starbucks, Panera, Krispy Kreme and a slew of other chains and local coffee shops are serving up the fall favorite.
And it’s got a cult following.
Just how popular is the orange gourd? Pumpkin products — from muffins to pancakes to lattes — brought in $522 million last year, according to Nielsen research. That was a 4.7% increase from the year before.
While “skipping the Starbucks” and other seasonal splurges, are often touted as a way to save money, you can still enjoy this fall rite of passage without blowing your budget. Here’s how to save money on pumpkin spice lattes all autumn long.
How to Save Money on Pumpkin Spice Lattes
1. Join Starbucks Rewards
Join Starbucks Rewards to start getting free drinks — including PSLs. Earn one star per $1 you spend. When you have 150 stars, you can redeem them for a free PSL or any handcrafted drink of your choice.
While that may seem like a good chunk of change to spend to get a reward, remember that it’s pretty easy to rack up a bill at Starbucks without even realizing it. That extra shot of espresso, added flavor and morning bagel all come at a cost. You can even offer to pay for friends and let them Venmo you or pay you back with cash.
Plus there are other perks to the rewards program, such as free refills of brewed coffee or tea.
(And if you just can’t quit Starbucks, these Starbucks hacks can save you money on your habit.)
2. Buy Discounted Starbucks Gift Cards
Websites such as Raise or Gift Card Granny and others can stretch your coffee dollars further. Just buy a gift card for less than its face value, and you’ll get more for your money anywhere making PSLs.
3. Join My Panera
Panera has a perks program, too. Join My Panera to get discounts and other customer rewards such as a free PSL.
4. Join Krispy Kreme Rewards
At Krispy Kreme, dollars equal doughnuts, as well as custom coffees. You get a free doughnut when you join and after about a dozen purchases, you can score a free pumpkin spice latte.
5. Celebrate Your Fall Birthday
If you’re a member of Starbucks Rewards, you’ll enjoy a free drink on your birthday. Why not make it a pumpkin spice latte?
Dunkin Donuts also offers free birthday drinks through its DD Perks Rewards program and has an extensive pumpkin spice menu.
Many other cafes also offer free birthday drinks, so if you find yourself at a coffee shop with pumpkiny concoctions on your birthday, be sure to ask!
6. Make a DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte
Indulge in a pumpkin spice latte anytime with this great do-it-yourself recipe from Farmgirl Gourmet. This recipe makes two 10-ounce lattes, so you can share one with a friend.
- 2 cups milk
- 4 tablespoons canned (or homemade) pumpkin puree
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 cup strong coffee or espresso
- whipped cream
Stir the milk, pumpkin puree, sugar, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice together in a pan over medium-high heat. Bring it almost to a boil, but avoid boiling (that will make it too thick). Stir constantly, and it should start to froth in about a minute.
Pour the concoction into two mugs, then slowly add the strong coffee or espresso, pouring it in by the edge of the cup so that the milk stays frothy. Add whipped cream and a dash of pumpkin pie spice on top, and indulge in your homemade creation.
7. Make DIY Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer
This simple recipe from Delish requires just five ingredients and produces 1-3/4 cups of pumpkin spice creamer to add to your coffee.
- 1-1/2 cups heavy cream or half-and-half
- 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 or 2 cinnamon sticks
Whisk together the heavy cream or half-and-half, pumpkin puree, maple syrup and pumpkin pie spice in a small pan over medium heat. Add a cinnamon stick or two and turn the heat up a bit until it boils, whisking occasionally.
After a minute, take it off the heat and let it cool for about five minutes before you add it to your coffee.
According to Delish, the leftover creamer will keep in your refrigerator for a week, but be sure to give it a good shake before using.
Kristen Pope is a former contributor to The Penny Hoarder.
Contributor Katherine Snow Smith is a veteran newspaper reporter and editor who covers lifestyle topics, workplace issues and ways to make money for The Penny Hoarder. She is the author of “Rules for the Southern Rulebreaker: Missteps and Lessons Learned.”