Dunkin' Vs. Starbucks: Who is the PSL King?

The Pumpkin Spice Latte has been a quintessential part of autumn since its creation almost two decades ago. When you hear PSL, most people immediately think of Starbucks, since this is the coffee chain who invented it. However, there's another coffee shop vying for the title of the best Pumpkin Spice Latte, so I took it upon myself to answer the age-old question- between Dunkin' Donuts vs Starbucks, who is the king of the PSL?

Starbucks Coffee's Pumpkin Spice Latte

Starbucks coffee was founded in Seattle, and has long been regarded as one of the best coffee options for a quick, quality pick-me-up. This beloved coffeehouse has made a name for itself with its delicious Frappuccinos, lattes, teas, coffee beans and pastries. Although it started as a West Coast gem, Starbucks soon spread across the country and world, from New York to Spain, and there are currently Starbucks locations in over 80 countries.

Starbucks has also perfected its seasonal coffee drinks, from the wintery Peppermint Mocha to the autumnal Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew and Pumpkin Spice Latte. The Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks is made with espresso and steamed milk, along with pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. It's topped with whipped cream and pumpkin-pie spices.

Dunkin' Donuts Pumpkin Spice Signature Latte

dunkins vs Starbucks
Lyndsay Burginger

In contrast to Starbucks' West Coast roots, Dunkin' Donuts was founded in Quincy, Massachusetts, which is just half an hour outside Boston. Dunkin' has been around since 1950, continuing to provide yummy coffee and donuts over the years. Dunkin' has also gone far from its East Coast origin, and there are currently Dunkin' Donuts locations in 36 countries around the world.

Dunkin' Donuts has distinguished itself with over 50 kinds of donuts, all of which are unique and delicious. The chain also offers coffee, bagels, breakfast sandwiches, and other baked goods with competitive pricing. Dunkin' Donuts coffee has many loyal fans who say that this is the best fast food coffee around, but as I was there to evaluate their PSL, I stayed focused on my mission and can't speak to Dunkin's coffee taste. Dunkin's Pumpkin Spice Signature Latte contains a blend of pumpkin flavor swirl and vanilla flavor, topped with whipped cream, caramel drizzle and cinnamon sugar.

Starbucks vs. Dunkin' Donuts- Who Has Perfected the PSL?

In my quest to discover which of these beloved fast food coffee chains make the best Pumpkin Spice Lattes between Dunkin' vs Starbucks, I had to try them for myself. I headed to the nearest Starbucks, trying to keep myself from having any expectations. I'm not much of a sweet-coffee person, so this was my first PSL experience, and I questioned whether the famed Starbucks drink could live up the hype.

Upon first sip, I was converted. I tried an Iced Pumpkin Spice Latte, since the weather doesn't quite call for a hot drink yet, and I haven't fully come to terms with the end of summer. The PSL was sweet, but not overpoweringly so, and I loved the warm notes of cinnamon and nutmeg. The whipped cream on top added a nice light quality that complemented the flavorful drink. All around, 10/10, would drink again! (and again). But next time, I'll get a venti.

I then headed to my local Dunkin' Donuts store to try their Pumpkin Spice Signature Latte. Their PSL has different flavors than the classic Starbucks one, incorporating vanilla and caramel and adding in cinnamon sugar. Because of this, I expected that it would be a bit sweeter. However, I still wasn't prepared for how sweet Dunkin's take on the PSL was. It was very sweet, so sweet that I could only have a few sips before I was done with it.

Dunkin' vs Starbucks: My Takeaway

Dunkin's is on the right track, but they haven't reached the level of perfection that Starbucks has. Maybe it's because they're a donut shop, so are already used to being on the sweeter side of things. All I can say is that their PSL was too sweet, and missed the mark for me. Starbucks' PSL, however, was truly delicious and I slurped it all down in a matter of minutes. Therefore, Starbucks is officially the king of the PSL, and I won't be convinced otherwise!

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