Ranking of Kingston's pumpkin spice lattes

One expert's opinion on which PSL is best

Festive coffee cups.

When I decided to taste, rank and review various pumpkin spice lattes around Kingston, I knew it was something I was born to do. 

I remember my first pumpkin spice latte (PSL) — I was fourteen and lured into Starbucks by the festive fall signs and the intrigue that a sweet, orange drink could taste like a pumpkin. In short, I was hooked from the start.

Ever since, PSLs and I have had some ups and downs. Even though Starbucks is my second home, they tend to be a bit inconsistent with the quality of their drinks and their PSLs were no different. Sometimes they were the liquid version of a warm, cozy hug and other times they were bitter and left a bad taste in my mouth.

After a drunken conversation on Homecoming with a random guy about PSLs, I realized I really hadn’t tried the range of them that now exist in the world, and specifically, in Kingston. He recommended testing out the drink from McDonald’s, and the hideous orange color of the PSL at Tim Hortons always intrigued me. 

I decided that in my free time that week, I was going to go and sample the trifecta and document my journey for my fellow PSL lovers.

Unfortunately, the hoopla over McDonald’s PSLs turned out to be a severe reality check. They were sold out for the three days I attempted to sample them. 

To stand in its place, I decided to test out the season’s favourite drink from our very own campus coffee shop, CoGro.


Oh CoGro, I wanted this to be my favourite, but unfortunately it just wasn’t up to snuff. 

The campus PSL was nowhere close to being as sweet as it should’ve been. It left a weird 

after-taste similar to what you’d imagine if you just put some pumpkin spice in your mouth and tried to swallow it.

It still had the same autumn vibe necessary for a true latte, but I’ll chalk this blunder up to CoGro not having as much time to learn the time-honoured fall drink recipe as its competitors. 

Rating: 2/5


I’ve probably consumed at least 500 PSLs from Starbucks in the seven years since I tried my first one, so there wasn’t really a reason to test it again, but hey, any excuse to go to Starbucks, right?

I got my grande pumpkin spice latte, keeping in mind the inconsistency of the acclaimed coffeehouse chain. The one I was given was sweet but not too sweet, warm and perfectly seasonal. 

However, even though I feel like Starbucks is the designer version of them, it really isn’t anything to write home about. Also, the inconsistency I’ve experienced certainly knocks it down a couple points.

Rating: 3/5

Tim Hortons

The PSL at Tim Hortons was honestly much better than I expected. It had much more of the pumpkin spice flavor than its competitors and yet, was surprisingly less sweet. 

Considering the fact that it’s so much cheaper also probably made it taste that much better.

To me, the orange color of it kind of scared me but also didn’t have the fake taste I was expecting, safe to say it was a pleasant surprise.

I also wasn’t the biggest fan of the non-negotiable addition of whipped cream to the drink but considering I’m probably one of the few that has this preference, I feel like it’s not exactly a 


Rating: 4/5

In the end, it was Tim Hortons that gained the title of number one. It was the perfect combination of the pumpkin spice flavor and sweetness won me over. 

Now that my fellow PSL lovers are highly educated on Kingston’s best options, excuse me as I get a couple cavities filled.


All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.