by EMMA COURT
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was Pumpkin Spice Latte season. And this year, it came early. For aliens, unicorns or those fictional persons who have never been to a Starbucks, a quick primer on this all-too-important subject: The acronym is PSL, it’ll set you back four bucks at the very least, it tastes like a pumpkin pie in a cup and it’s only acceptable to love ironically. Think of it as the autumnal Skinny Vanilla Latte — beloved by a certain sushi-loving, Lululemon legging-wearing segment of the population, ungenerously termed “betches.” It is best consumed after a SoulCycle class, on the streets of Park Avenue or while shrieking “Eh mah gawd, is it Thanksgiving already?”
If you’re in the not-so-profitable business of judging people by their coffee drink of choice, then you know that ordering the Pumpkin Spice Latte merits a latte of hate. But lest you dismiss PSL critics with, in the words of the ever-wise Taylor Swift, “haters gonna hate hate hate,” I’ll admit there are a few reasons to crash on the caffeinated beverage. For one, a lot of people really love PSLs, which is a good reason to hate it. Not to mention, in the ultimate trick of Halloween season, there’s no pumpkin in the darn drink, just the spices used in pumpkin pie — I guess Spice Latte didn’t have the same ring to it. And, oh gosh, apparently it’s got a lot of chemicals in the mix there too. Not to mention Starbucks promotes it on its website with the slogan, “The days are getting shorter. And better.” Can you say leaf it alone? Hipsters everywhere are offended by the ubiquity of the PSL and its popularizing of burnt orange, which was supposed to be their thing this year. Plus, over 29,000 people have tweeted about it — 140 insipid characters, typically followed by #pumpkinspiceeverything, one of the most revolting hashtags of all time. Is it too much to ask that your hashtags actually mean something? Can you say #soover #pumpkinspice?
But let’s step outside the pumpkin mania that has overtaken every form of social media and every coffee shop and magazine cover. Clear your head. Take a deep breath, and a deeper sip of the PSL I know you have in your hand. The delicious pumpkin-y sweetness, that kick of cinnamon, the sprinkle of nutmeg (maybe some cloves too), topped off by some light and airy whipped cream. It’s all the taste of the holiday season without the yearly, much-agonized choice between the kids’ or the adults’ table, obligatory chitchat with family members about how quickly those college years fly by, the overstuffed stomachs, postmortem about who made the best food and debating whether the turkey was just a little dry. Forget #pumpkinspiceeverything, forget the 300 Instagrams of coffee cups captioned “Pumpkin Spice season <3” and forget that you could pay for your college tuition if you got a dollar each time you heard the letters PSL. It’s just a delicious drink, it makes you happy and it lets you know that it’s autumn. Admitting that wasn’t so bad, was it? And if liking things other people like makes you basic, so be it. But hey, if anyone calls you out for drinking it, cover the letters PSL with your hand and tell them it’s just coffee. Black, of course.