If you fall for fall, coffee is probably a big part of the reason why.
Perfect autumn nights are so often characterized by a slight chill in the air, a knit sweater, and a steaming cup of coffee while on a morning or evening stroll. Without explanation, the experience is soothing, motivating, clarifying, and totally unique to the combination of fall’s arrival and the multiple sensations that accompany autumn coffee.
Overview of Fall Coffee Drinks
Limited-time offer seasonal flavors are not exclusive to fall coffee flavors, but they do tend to pack more of a nostalgic punch. Perhaps it’s their timing with the holiday season, or maybe it’s the flavors themselves, but the warmth of spices and sweetness of caramels and ciders make coffee the autumnal date your taste buds wait all year for.
According to the National Coffee Association, the most popular fall flavor is pumpkin—despite a slight downtick in its popularity on restaurant menus in the 2018 fall season. Salted caramel has emerged in recent years as a staple, and practically any coffee beverage boasting clove or cinnamon makes customers sing.
Fall has a flavor type, and it’s full of spice and everything nice.
Best Fall Coffee Flavors
No one can claim fall flavors lack distinctness. Fall flavors are known for their use of spices like cinnamon, plus seasonal crops like pumpkin and apple. Fall coffee recipes are in abundance! Check out some of our favorite flavors for getting your coffee in step with autumn!
Pumpkin spice, best known in its “PSL” iteration, or pumpkin spice latte, is the most popular fall flavor—so popular that cereal, snack, and yogurt brands have adopted the flavor in a dizzying number of products that now line grocery store shelves. At its core, pumpkin spice is a mix of spices—particularly pumpkin pie spice. Brands tend to use their own recipe for making the flavor, but it’s often a combination of allspice, and a touch of ginger—with some heavy cinnamon notes. In a latte, a pumpkin puree or sauce is added that makes the beverage taste creamier, much like a pumpkin pie. It’s mercifully easy to concoct your own recipe for a pumpkin spice coffee, but if experimenting with a latte, don’t skip the actual pumpkin.
While the caramel macchiato is a year-round staple, the salted caramel is a salty-sweet take that surfaces ever so briefly for those transitional days of September and October, when the chill doesn’t quite pierce the skin but the air’s warmth isn’t quite the summer blanket it once was. A caramel sauce combined with sea salt and a hint of vanilla make this an early-autumn delicacy.
While a seemingly unconventional pairing, a healthy dash of cinnamon serves as the bridge between the bitterness of the coffee and sweetness of cider. A half-cup of coffee mixed with a blend of cloves, brown sugar, cinnamon and cider—heated, of course—combine for a comforting fall drink that’s an ace among autumn coffee recipes—and doesn’t even require milk.
Think of it like a pumpkin spice latte, but with extra spice, a kick of maple-infused sweetness, and the milder flavor of chai tea. A homemade recipe calls for spiced chai, warming spices, pumpkin puree, almond milk, and maple syrup, at minimum. To boost flavor, consider adding vanilla extract and a pinch of salt, or swapping maple syrup for honey.
While fall is the perfect time to enjoy a PSL — or any harvest-inspired beverage, you can still enjoy autumn-inspired coffee any time of year, if the mood strikes. Stock up on some of your pre-made favorites, like Pumpkin Spice Coffee, or start with your favorite coffee flavor and add your own autumnal touch. Enjoy every sip!