Recipes: A Healthier Pumpkin Spice Latte

Halloween, Pumpkin spice latte, pumpkins

I’m not quite sure how long pumpkin spice lattes have been a ‘thing’ in Ireland, but I only tried my first one a couple of weeks ago in Starbucks. I loved the idea of the warming pumpkin spices infusing with the deep coffee flavour. I joined the Starbucks queue (which was so long it was out the door!) and excitedly anticipated walking around on that cool, crisp autumnal day with my comforting pumpkin-spice latte in hand.

Unfortunately my expectation was a little different from the reality. I found the Starbucks pumpkin spice latte to be sickeningly sweet – this coming from someone who likes sweet coffee! I was intrigued to learn what was actually in their now famous autumnal latte. The Starbucks ingredients were changed this year to include some real pumpkin and to remove the artificial caramel colouring.  Definitely a step in the right direction. The current ingredients (as of October 2015) are listed as follows;

  • Espresso
  • Milk
  • Pumpkin Spice Flavoured Sauce (Sugar, Condensed Skim Milk, Pumpkin Puree, Contains 2% or Less of Fruit and Vegetable Juice for Color, Natural Flavours, Annatto (Color), Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Salt)
  • Whipped Cream (Light Whipping Cream [Cream, Mono and Diglycerides, Carrageenan])
  • Starbucks Vanilla Syrup (Sugar, Water, Natural Flavours, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Citric Acid)
  • Pumpkin Spice Topping (Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg, Clove)

As you can see (and taste!) the Starbucks version contains quite a lot of sugar as well as flavourings, colourings and preservatives. Mono and diglycerides of fatty acids, which often contain trans fats, are also included. The Starbucks version contains the controversial ‘natural’ ingredient carrageenan too. In short it is quite a processed product.

I wondered if I could make a ‘cleaner’, more wholesome pumpkin spice latte that I could enjoy and share with family and friends. Below you will find my take on the pumpkin spice latte!

Halloween, Pumpkin spice latte, pumpkins
So delicious and absolutely zero colourings, refined sugars, flavourings, preservatives, synthetic chemicals or trans fats in my pumpkin spice latte recipe.

This is a wonderful drink which would go down very well at any Halloween brunch, lunch or dinner party and makes for a delicious coffee break with a slice of Irish Halloween brack. You could even sneak in a shot of whiskey for an after-dinner Irish twist! It is the perfect winter-warmer.

Halloween, Pumpkin spice latte, pumpkins
Halloween Brack

Here are some of the ingredients I have included in my pumpkin-spice latte;

Halloween, Pumpkin spice latte, pumpkins
Coffee beans! I got these strong-flavoured coffee beans in Sawer’s Belfast.
Halloween, Pumpkin spice latte, pumpkins
I chose to use Organic whole milk for my latte – I picked this up in Lidl.
Halloween, Pumpkin spice latte, pumpkins
It is really hard to find pumpkin purée in Ireland but I came across this in Sawer’s in Belfast, I’ve also seen it in Arcadia on the Lisburn Road (Belfast). The past few years I have just made my own purée to use in soups and recipes by roasting pumpkins and blending to a purée. Roasting pumpkins is fairly straight-forward but when I spotted this I decided to save myself the time by picking it up! Comment below if you’ve found it elsewhere!
Halloween, Pumpkin spice latte, pumpkins
I used this organic vanilla extract to add flavour to my latte.
Halloween, Pumpkin spice latte, pumpkins
This organic maple syrup was used to sweeten my latte.
Halloween, Pumpkin spice latte, pumpkins
To create that lovely, warming, comforting flavour, I blended a mix of winter spices to make my own pumpkin-spice mix.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe:

Serves: Ingredients are listed per person, so multiply as necessary.


  • One shot of espresso or strongly brewed coffee.
  • Two-thirds of a cup of milk  (measure this roughly, using the cup you will present your latte in).
  • One tablespoon pumpkin purée*.
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • Whipped cream to serve (I used Glenisk’s organic fresh cream)

For pumpkin spice mix:

This makes about a quarter cup of pumpkin spice mix, use about a quarter teaspoon or so per latte.

  • 5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 3 quarters of a teaspoon allspice
  • 2  whole cloves

*If you are making your own pumpkin purée be sure to use small cooking-pumpkins – large carving pumpkins are not flavoursome and are not generally ideal for cooking with! Thankfully lots of shops now have a great selection edible pumpkins! Use leftovers to make pumpkin pie or pumpkin soup.

Halloween, Pumpkin spice latte, pumpkins
Two medium-sized carving pumpkins next to two smaller, edible, cooking pumpkin varieties.


  1. Add the milk, pumpkin purée, vanilla essence and maple syrup* to a pot. Stir to blend and heat very gently on a low setting. Be careful not to let the milk get too hot as it will curdle. (*you may wish to add more maple syrup depending on your taste – this recipe will not match the sweetness of a Starbucks pumpkin spice latte so add more maple syrup and vanilla essence if you want a very sweet version!

    Halloween, Pumpkin spice latte, pumpkins
    The milky pumpkin latte mix
  2. Add all spices to a coffee grinder to blend your pumpkin spice mix.
  3. Brew your strong coffee or espresso shot. Ideally you would use espresso here but I used a cafetiere to brew my coffee as I don’t have an espresso maker. I used freshly ground, strong-flavoured coffee beans to mimic the espresso flavour as best I could.
  4. Whilst the coffee is brewing, Pour hot water into your latte cup to heat it up.
  5. Whip the fresh cream.
  6. Use a hand mixer to blend and froth your milk mixture, or ideally, steam and froth your milk if you have a coffee machine.
  7. Pour the hot water out of the cup. Add a shot of coffee to your cup, followed by your milk mixture. Leave space at the top for some whipped cream! (If you want to avoid whipped cream then simply froth your milk before adding it to the cup.)
  8. Serve your latte with whipped cream on top and use a sieve to sprinkle about a quarter teaspoon of pumpkin-spice mix over the top.

Happy Halloween!

Halloween, Pumpkin spice latte, pumpkins
P.S. To read more about Starbuck’s pumpkin spice latte ingredients have a look here.

The Clean Coconut x

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