Your list of not-so-basic fall drinks
In honor of "pumpkin spice" season, we've put together a local guide to 32 fall specials available at local coffee shops and cafes.
If there is anything that makes the end of summer slightly less disappointing, it’s the beginning of fall-inspired drinks season. Every year as the leaves change colors and sweater weather reemerges, baristas create new lattes, cappuccinos and mochas to help us transition from scorching hot summer days to cool autumn nights. Curl up at home with a good book, some fall-scented candles and try one of these local drinks.
Cargo Coffee | 750 E. Washington Ave., 1309 S. Park St.
Pumpkin Marshmallow Latte
Every month Cargo Coffee creates a new specialty drink. In September, try the pumpkin marshmallow latte with toasted marshmallow syrup, pumpkin spice syrup, milk and espresso. “I think that drink is kind of like a farewell to summer, because you still have the summer marshmallow flavor but you’re getting the cool breezes of fall, too, so it’s kind of like a mix of both worlds,” says manager Julie Snyder.
Candy Apple Cider
Come October, stay tuned for a new specialty beverage. Snyder says they plan to release the candy apple cider, which is a coffee drink made with apple cider and caramel sauce, topped with a cinnamon stick, whipped cream and caramel drizzle.
Colectivo Coffee | 583 State St., 25 S. Pinckney St., 30 Monroe St., other locations
Spiced Apple Cider
Apple-picking season is here, and the Colectivo apple cider drink is a warm taste of what’s to come. Colectivo locally sources its apples from Apple Barn Orchard in Elkhorn for this fall-themed, spiced drink.
The Maple Oat-Lait is creamy and sweet, made with cold brew, oat milk and maple spice syrup. A touch of ginger also adds a little spice.
Pumpkin Spice Fluff Latte
This PSFL – yes, Colectivo went ahead and added “F” for “fluff” in its rendition of a pumpkin spice latte, aka PSL. Its Colectivo’s most popular fall beverage, and after one sip, it’s clear why. The flavor comes through in this latte, which is topped with a thick, marshmallow-like, vegan fluff and swirls of cinnamon. The specialty ingredient, which is prepared daily at Colectivo’s Troubadour Bakery, is made with sweetened aquafaba, a chickpea liquid. The fluff also mixes a warming pumpkin pie spice with turmeric, stabilized with cream of tartar.
Pair any one of Colectivo’s beverages with the pumpkin maple scone, cranberry almond scone or the chai snickerdoodle. All of its fall seasonal drinks are here until Nov. 2.
Grace Coffee Co. | 1216 E. Washington Ave., 417 State St., other locations
While Grace Coffee just opened a new location on 1004 S. Park St., it is brewing with other new and exciting developments, including its fall specialty drinks.
White Chocolate Candy Corn Mocha
Depending on the memory or association you make with fall, this beverage seems to combine it all, with fun-flavored syrups, sauce, espresso and steamed milk.
Get toasty with some campfire ambiance and a sip of this mocha, which mixes espresso, milk and chocolate sauce with marshmallow syrup.
Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew
Grace Coffee Co. combines its cold brew with pumpkin cream for a treat that’s not too saccharine.
Grace is also selling a pumpkin spice latte as well as a pumpkin chai. All of its specialty drinks are on the menu until December.
Fair Trade Coffee House | 418 State St.
Casey Thompson, owner of the Fair Trade Coffee House, says its pumpkin spice latte is the most popular, though its other trendy, fall beverages are also a hit.
Pumpkin Pie Chiller
Mixing together espresso, pumpkin spice and whole milk with ice, this frappe is as chilly as the crispy fall air.
Salted Caramel Mocha
Fair Trade Coffee House blends chocolate, salted caramel syrup, espresso and milk for this rich, creamy beverage on its fall menu.
Fair Trade is also selling a brewed-from-scratch chai tea with pumpkin spice and a pumpkin cream cold brew. All of its festive drinks will be available until the end of November.
Indie Coffee | 1225 Regent St.
Indie Coffee is taking some aromatic inspiration from the rustic, earthy side of autumn. While you’re there, try its classic waffle that’s “crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside.”
The Mayan Spiced Mocha
The Mayan Spiced Mocha from Indie Coffee (Photo Courtesy of J.J. Kilmer, owner of Indie Coffee)Unwind with a cup of the rich, spicy Mayan mocha, which blends Ghirardelli dark chocolate, cinnamon and a touch of cayenne pepper.
The S’More Mocha
Warm up by the campfire — or, better yet, the s’more mocha, which includes dark chocolate and toasted marshmallow.
Rejuvenate with the pumpkin cortado, made with nutmeg and cinnamon.
The Haight Ashbury
Infusing vanilla and real cloves, this drink is named after the famous San Francisco neighborhood.
Indie Coffee will also sell a “Nutty Professor,” which is a Ghirardelli dark chocolate-hazelnut latte.
Leopold’s Books-Bar-Caffe | 1301 Regent St.
Creating craft cocktails is a quintessential Wisconsin experience, and the downtown area is no exception — even at Leopold’s, the unconventional bookstore, bar and cafe.
Owner Sam Brown got creative with this drink, saying that while the Licor 43 adds a toothsome vanilla note, you get a real kick and some heat emanating from the ginger liqueur. Enjoy it garnished with an orange peel.
Cappuccino Branca Mocha
Treat yourself to this rich, spiked cappuccino, which combines chocolate liqueur, fernet branca menta and dark chocolate from the award-winning Madison Chocolate Co.
Cappuccino Boom Boom
This cappuccino is compelling in both name and ingredients, combining amaretto, Bailey’s and Gran Marnet with creamy, thick foam.
Michelangelo’s | 114 State St.
In addition to its pastries, smoothies and sandwiches, Michelangelo’s is appreciated for its sweet drinks. Right off of State Street and close to the Capitol, the black-and-white awning is recognized near and far.
Pumpkin Sauce and Maple Latte
Michelangelo’s pumpkin latte is not your traditional PSL. Surprise, there’s no pumpkin syrup! It’s kept simple, made with a special pumpkin sauce instead, milk of your choice and cinnamon, made hot or iced.
Spiced Caramel Apple Tea Latte
Another festive drink is the spiced caramel apple tea latte, a real treat for anyone in the holiday spirit. Michelangelo’s says the drink — like its coffee shop — “is your home away from home.”
Twisted Grounds | 6067 Gemini Drive
This is a fall twist on the classic miel, which comes with cinnamon, honey and vanilla, but instead of the vanilla, Twisted Grounds creates a homemade maple simple syrup. Feel free to add nutmeg and make this drink hot or iced. “I like the miel in general, and I’m from northern Wisconsin where we tend to use the real maple syrup, so it’s nostalgic and cozy,” says Jennah Ludwig, a barista at Twisted Grounds. This drink is available until the end of September before the shop releases its next round of fall beverages.
Pie Spice Cappuccino
This hot cappuccino doesn’t just sprinkle in some white chocolate, but all of the warm, holiday spices, including apple pie spice and cinnamon. This drink is simple, yet it infuses everything we love about the season.
There may not be spells or potions mixed in this beverage, but Twisted Grounds has championed autumn with its creativity in naming this sip “Witch’s Brew.” In full Halloween spirit, this beverage combines matcha, lavender and white chocolate, blending the earthy with the aromatic. Offered iced or hot, the drink can be ordered at any time during the year.
Twisted Grounds also has four different alternative dairy milks. A hot apple cider drink is also available.
Sencha Tea Bar | 430 State St.
Pumpkin Chai Shake
Of all the Sencha seasonal drinks, the Pumpkin Chai Shake reigns supreme. Its real pumpkin puree and spices set it apart. “It tastes like pumpkin pie in a cup,” says barista Ben Schulte. While it’s great to indulge in a warm drink, sometimes the heat still gets us and we can’t help but want something iced. Luckily, this smooth and creamy beverage will be around for a while — try it before it’s taken off the menu the day after Thanksgiving.
Toast to the season with the campfire latte, offered hot or iced, which is made with a herbal hazelnut tea and notes of chocolate and caramel. Topped with whipped cream and marshmallows, this drink will satisfy any sweet tooth craving.
Cocoa Haze Latte
It’s aptly named — this drink will send you into a cocoa haze, according to barista Jordan Wied. With a touch of coconut, caramel and maple, the latte has all the crave-able flavors. Made with a rich black tea, it is topped with a housemade chocolate drizzle, a hazelnut wafer bite and, finally, whipped cream.
Gaby Vinick is an editorial intern for Madison Magazine.
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