The pumpkin latte at Watson’s Counter | Watson’s Counter/Facebook
It’s not all about the PSL (although some of it is)
While even the COVID-19 pandemic could not halt the start of Starbucks’s pumpkin spice latte season, coffee drinkers may want to embrace a larger variety of seasonal offerings. In a city that prides itself on wonderful, rich brews, there are plenty of other sugary and spiced drinks that represent autumn well, served by some of the best independent shops around town. Below are just a few to seek out. (For a larger range of caffeinated options, including bags of great roasts for retail, here’s Eater’s Seattle coffee takeout map.)
Yes, there’s a PSL on the fall menu at this Vietnamese coffee shop in Columbia City. But the cold brew with a balanced blend of pumpkin and coconut stands out as a seasonal hit, alongside the cafe’s well-crafted espresso drinks using the phin brewing method (a combo of French press and pour over). It’s open for takeout with online preorders.
One of White Center’s best neighborhood cafes has a standout cardamom latte, as well as plenty of customizable options that offer nine different types of milk, and more than 20 possible sweeteners. There’s also a spiced apple cider with cinnamon and nutmeg for the kids (or young at heart).
Hood Famous Cafe and Bar
The International District all-day Filipino cafe recently reopened for walk-in takeout orders, offering its menu of pandan, calamansi, and ube-flavored drinks. Among the more decadent options is a “milk and ube cookies” affogato, which is more dessert than drink, but immensely satisfying nonetheless. An after-school snack for adults.
Makeda and Mingus
This Greenwood spot has gained a sterling reputation for an array of fantastic Indian fare and its golden milk latte, which is a family recipe. The turmeric-spiced drink is served all year long, but especially hits the spot when there’s a bit of chill in the air.
The Beacon Hill cafe by the Light Rail stop makes a mean mocha Mexicano as well as a fall-friendly drink called D’Angelo (a brown sugar latte). On the horizon is a caramel apple cider, and co-owner Leona Rodriguez is experimenting with a few other seasonal recipes to go along with the shop’s fantastic food menu, including biscuits with chorizo gravy.
Ballard’s Korean brunch hot spot (known for cereal-coated French toast) has an excellent coffee menu, with a pumpkin latte that it insists is not really a PSL, even though it tends toward more spice than sweetness. The mocha made with orange-rosemary syrup also gives off some strong autumn vibes.