12 local fall drinks that aren’t a pumpkin spice latte (and are probably better)


October 5, 2018

‘OMG. It tastes exactly like pumpkin pie.’

Each year, droves of scarf-wearing Charlotteans line up to grab this artificial concoction that is the pumpkin spice latte. I find it to be a weird, fascinating phenomenon: millions of people, driving to work, drinking a coffee-vegetable smoothie with enough sugar to challenge Bojangles’ syrupy sweet tea to a cavity-creating contest (16-oz. versions both contain 50 grams of sugar).

In case you want something different as the season begins to change, check out these local spots with fall beverages you’ll enjoy much more than that PSL. I’d bet my Brooks Brothers on it.


Trade & Lore

3306 N. Davidson St.

Endless Summer ($6)

Why you want it: This refreshing coffee shandy features flash-chilled nitro coffee, sumac lemonade from locally foraged sumac, and a honey ginger syrup.

Undercurrent Coffee

2012 Commonwealth Ave.

Southern Spice Latte ($5.68)

Why you want it: The locavores at Plaza Midwood’s neighborhood coffee shop developed this autumn-inspired latte made with fall spices, North Carolina sweet potatoes, and brown sugar.

“A lot of our food menu is inspired by Southern food culture with the majority of our produce and ingredients sourced locally, so it only made sense to create our keystone autumn beverage out of something so quintessentially Southern.” –Diana Mnatsakanyan-Sapp, Director of Operations

The Suffolk Punch at Hyde Brewing

2911 Griffith St., Suite A

Gettin’ Figgy with it ($6; $12 with Bourbon)

Why you want it: South End’s gastrobrewery serves this coffee cocktail with ginger beer, fig, lemon, and thyme poured over a huge cold brew coffee ice cube. With an option to add a splash of Bourbon for $6, this unique fall creation is going to have you chilling out, maxing, relaxing all cool.

Central Coffee

1700 Camden Road #101 and 719 Louise Ave.

Ginger-Turmeric Latte ($4.45)

Why you want it:This year-round spiced drink is made with Southeast Asian spices and one that owner Louisa Kleto says increases in popularity with the cooler weather.

Queen City Grounds

644 N. Church St.

Blackberry Matcha Lemonade ($4.50)

Why you want it: Enjoy one of these refreshing fall iced drinks with blackberry syrup, fresh matcha, lemon, and sparkling water on one of the inevitable 90-degree days in October.

Not Just Coffee

224 E 7th St. and other locations

Fall Spice Latte ($4.85)

Why you want it: This well-balanced espresso drink is made with a mix of cinnamon, allspice, cardamom, and blade mace.

“We bring it back every year around the first day of fall and people get so excited about it!” –Miracle Yoder, Co-owner

Coco and the Director

100 W. Trade St.

Spiced Bourbon Latte at Coco and the Director. Photo by Coco and the Director.

Bourbon Spiced Mocha ($5.00)

Bourbon Spiced Latte ($4.75)

Why you want it: Coco and the Director’s new Bourbon spice syrup is featured in these two drinks but can be added to flavor any beverage.

“Some of the best options to warm up for sweater weather season.–General Manager Pamela Rucker

Reid’s Fine Foods Uptown

121 W. Trade St., Suite 150

Creme Brûlée Latte at Reid’s Uptown. Photo courtesy of M Squared.

Creme Brûlée Latte ($5.14)

Why you want it: Only available at Reid’s new Uptown location, this sweet concoction is creamy and custardy with toasted vanilla notes.

The People’s Market Dilworth

1315 East Blvd.

Harvest Spice Latte ($4.25)

Why you want it: It’s a way to order a PSL by another name—and on another level with its “homemade all natural pumpkin purée” and cinnamon whipped cream.

Smelly Cat Coffeehouse

514 E 36th St.

Spiced Brown Sugar Latte at Smelly Cat. Photo by Smelly Cat.

Spiced Brown Sugar Latte ($4.25)

Why you want it: This espresso drink made with fall spices and orange zest is great for a crisp Monday but even better on a lazy (read: boozy) Saturday morning with new liqueur coffee choices.



3115 Freedom Dr.

Mocha Habanero ($4.56)

Why you want it: Charlotte’s first drive-through only craft coffee shop combines its housemade mocha with habanero chili from Savory Spice and espresso for this unique coffee elixir.

“It has this really cool, delayed spicy effect. I’ve really grown to love spicy foods and there is something amazing about chocolate and spice.” –Ian Kolb, Co-owner/Operator

Enderly Coffee

2620 Tuckaseegee Road

Salted maple latte ($4.25)

Why you want it: Bridging the gap between local and regional cuisine, this fall drink marries North Carolina ingredients (Homeland Creamery milk) with pure maple syrup from the northeast.

“Subtly sweet, surprisingly salted.” –Tony Santoro, Co-owner

This post originally ran on CharlotteFive.com. 

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