Open Season

Open Season

Need a pumpkin spice fix but want to skip the chains? Check out these homegrown options.

Announced with cheerful signage, Claire’s Corner Copia’s pumpkin spice drinks feel perfectly at home in a place named for a cornucopia. The Pumpkin Spice Latte ($3.75-$6.12) was topped by a cinnamon-flecked froth, its mellow pumpkin flavor emphasizing both espresso base notes and spicy-sweet overtones. For something more filling, the Cinderella Pumpkin Smoothie ($8) fit the bill. Made with pumpkin puree, coconut milk, apple juice and granola, it tasted as if slices of pumpkin and apple pie had been blended into frosty liquid form.

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For a subtler seasonal taste, try Atticus Bookstore Cafe, serving up hot and iced Pumpkin Spice Lattes ($5.50-$6.50) a block up Chapel Street. Featuring espresso, milk, pumpkin, nutmeg, clove and vanilla, and despite a fragrant sprinkling of cinnamon sugar on top, the iced version I tried was barely sweet, with the flavor of the espresso leading the charge.

At Gather, an East Rock coffee shop and community space, owner Sultan Thahir whipped up an artisanal iced Pumpkin Spiced Latte ($5) with house-made chai mix (cloves, cinnamon, black pepper, ginger, cardamom), milk and espresso as well as maple, vanilla and pumpkin syrups, all topped by cold milk foam with more maple syrup and a dusting of spice. The result? A bold, complex thrill ride that nonetheless invited slowing down and sipping. You can, by the way, ask to customize the sweetness level, from just a whisper of sugar to dessert in a cup.

Across town, Westville’s Mew Haven Cat Cafe offers a different twist: Pumpkin Cafe Au Lait ($4-$4.80) featuring Mr. Kitty’s Pumpkin Spice coffee, steamed milk, pumpkin pie syrup and straight pumpkin spice, either to go or to enjoy while spending time with their resident cats. You can also buy bags of Mr. Kitty’s for preparing your own at home.

Or you can head down the street to Mediterranean fusion restaurant RAWA, which shakes up the formula with a Pumpkin Latte Martini ($13). Made from Kahlúa Pumpkin Spice, Irish cream, vanilla vodka and espresso and attractively dressed with chocolate syrup and coffee beans, the martini was caffeinated and autumnal with a subtle chocolate twist and booze to spare, offering a nice buzz to go with all that pumpkin spice buzz.

Written and photographed by Heather Jessen.

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