Like everything in the internet age, fall beverages have become a subject of hot debate, spawning memes, threads and gifs in support of or vitriolically against this drink, or that.

And there is no drink more reviled or more loved that the gourdy juggernaut that is The Pumpkin Spice Latte. It’s so ever-present that the initialism “PSL,” has been shown by scientists to be a recognized phrase in 87 percent of the English-speaking world.*

To shed some light on the debate, Louisville Distilled took the question to the experts and asked five local baristas to weigh in on the P-slice, tell us their favorite drinks, and discuss their shop’s autumnal offerings.

*This is a lie. I made it up. I’m not sorry.


Trevor DeCuir Photo By: Eli Keel

Name: Trevor DeCuir

Where they sling java: Co-owner of McQuixote Books & Coffee (1512 Portland Ave.)

Pumpkin Spice: Yes or No? Yes.

Care to elaborate: Even though most pumpkin spice isn’t really pumpkin, it’s just the spices, I think that it’s interesting that pumpkin is one of the last foods we have, at least in the U.S., that is truly seasonal. You don’t eat pumpkin unless it’s fall. There’s no pumpkin anything at Easter or the 4th of July. Fall comes, and it’s time for pumpkins.

Best non-PSL winter drink: We have Blackberry Winter Lattes, those are super popular. We make blackberry syrup in-house and add a little white chocolate, and it’s just a nice, dark, syrupy flavor that’s good in the wintery months.

Your favorite winter drink: Me, personally, I either go with black coffee most days, but if I want something special, definitely a pumpkin chai, because it’s delicious. It’s spices and tea and milk and honey, and what’s bad about that?


Phillip Hernandez Photo by Eli Keel

Name: Phillip Hernandez

Where they sling java: Quills (802 E Main St.)

Pumpkin Spice: Yes or No? Yes.

Care to elaborate: I do like pumpkin spice, but it can’t be too sweet. It has to be more of a gourdy pumpkin spice, you know?

Best non-PSL winter drink: We sell a lot of Maple Spice. We get our maple from Paoli, Indiana, so it’s kind of local if you’re into that.

Your favorite winter drink: If we’re really getting into seasonal, I’m all about cider. All about it. I have a half gallon at home right now. I destroy that stuff.


Nathan Dickinson Photo by Eli Keel

Name: Nathan Dickinson

Where they sling java: Sunergos Coffee, (2122 S Preston St.)

Pumpkin Spice: Yes or No? Yes.

Care to elaborate: I think that pumpkin spice lattes are great. It’s super tasty.

Best non-PSL winter drink: We have a s’mores latte, which has a smoky vanilla sauce, and graham cracker infused milk. It is just gnarly in the best possible way. So that means we’ve steeped graham cracker in gallons of milk overnight, and it brings this ridiculous level of sweetness, and a cinnamon undertone, that I think really compliments the espresso.

Your favorite winter drink: Aside from that, we’ve got the cider. People love Huber’s man.


Tony Pike Photo by Eli Keel

Name: Tony Pike

Where they sling java: Please and Thank You (800 East Market St.)

Pumpkin Spice: Yes or No? No. Not for me.

Care to elaborate: Everybody else can drink it as much as they want, but it’ll never touch my lips.

Best non-PSL winter drink: I’m a big fan of chai in the fall. I think chai is super excellent. I’ve also gotten into tea lattes, so here at Please and Thank You our Friday Afternoon Tea Latte is just excellent. We also have a Moon Spice Latte that’s equitable to Pumpkin Spice.

Your favorite winter drink: During the cold months, my favorite drink is just a hot, brewed-fresh cup of coffee. Which, oddly enough is my favorite drink to drink in the middle of summer. I actually really love it in the middle of the summer.

Amy Weidl Photo By Eli Keel

Name: Amy Wiedl

Where they sling java: Nancy’s Bagel Box in Theatre Square (651 S. 4th St.)

Pumpkin Spice: Yes or No? No.

Care to elaborate: I’m not somebody that likes particularly sweet drinks, and like, the synthetic syrup, and stuff like that. So, when I think of Pumpkin Spice that’s all I think of. It’s just not really my thing. I don’t blame anybody else for getting it.

Best non-PSL winter drink: We have a drink here called the Autumn au lait; it’s made with coffee, steamed milk, and a brown sugar simple syrup that makes up the sweetness. Then it comes with nutmeg and cinnamon on top. And it’s really mellow, not too overpowering, but I feel like it’s really appropriate for fall.

Your favorite winter drink: I just do a warm version of what I normally drink every day, a soy latte. Just real simple, goes with everything.


Name: Eli Keel

Where they sling java: Retired from coffee, but this is my article so you know I’m going to put in my two cents.

Pumpkin Spice: Yes or No? Yes.

Care to elaborate: There is nothing inherently wrong with any of America’s popular sweet drinks. Whether it’s caramel, blackberry, vanilla, or even pumpkin spice, each drink can be great, made by a well-practiced barista using quality beans, and handmade ingredients. Conversely, they can all be spewed from machines, using dubious beans and chemically altered corn syrup.

The delight is in the details.

Now, when you really need caffeine and sugar stat, it’s any port in the storm, but do yourself a flavor this season, and take a break amid the busy holiday shopping and treat yourself to something with handmade ingredients, prepared by a passionate, committed, and well-trained barista.

Ask your barista about the ingredients, ask them about the coffee, and unless there is a long line behind you, they’ll be happy to break it down.

And all that expertise and care deserves recompense, so always tip your barista.


Eli is a freelance journalist focused on arts and culture. He’s written for, The,, Pointe Magazine, Louisville Public Radio’s news division,, and LEO Weekly. He lives in Shelby Park with two pitbulls and his wife.


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