What you're drinking: I saw a Starbucks advertisement in an airport recently that just said "PSL" in big sleek letters. I knew what the letters stood for. They stood for Pumpkin Spice Latte. I have never consumed a Pumpkin Spice Latte. Why do I know its acronym? Do I know what it tastes like, too?
Why you're drinking it: Type in "Pumpkin Spice Latte" at Google.com/trends and you will see a graph resembling a crude EKG, which stands for electrocardiogram, with spikes every year beginning the last week of August. Starbucks releases the PSL annually in the first week of September. (It's a seasonal drink.) Except this year, when some stores got confused and released it early. This angered some customers, according to a USA Today article I read. The article included this tweet by one Tyler Markle as proof: "Through mixed signals and cryptic messages but nothing real, @Starbucks has totally botched the launch of the #PSL still no clue when." Markle is a real person, a journalist in fact. His tweet has three likes.
What the ambiance is like: On the advice of friends, I went to the Starbucks at 5260 Grant Creek Rd. to try my first PSL. Getting there took only 5 minutes on I-90. I ordered a Venti, or 20 oz., size. The barista spelled my name correctly—a nice bonus. There was one tense moment, however, when the man behind me in line gave his travel mug to another barista. As she began pouring his dark roast, he hollered, "I wanted it rinsed." Everyone froze until the barista made a joke about rinsing it out with coffee. The man chuckled. Everyone returned to their drinks.
What it tastes like: Alas, I already knew. We all already know.
What it costs: $5.25 for 20 ounces and 470 calories, making it the second-most-expensive drink on the menu. The Pumpkin Spice Frappe costs 20 cents more.