illustration of a brown countertop with three coffee drinks sitting on it in mugs or to go cups. the background is orange with autumn leaves on it.
Design by Emily Schwartz.

Lab Café – Pumpkin Spice Latte

With its abundance of plants, twinkling lights and the option to have your drink served in glassware rather than plastic, Lab Café cultivates the perfect cozy autumn aura that encourages customers to sit and stay for a while. My seat by the window had a view of the changing leaves and foot traffic of East Liberty Street, complemented by soft music intermingled with the sounds of steaming milk. I ordered the iced latte with pumpkin spice syrup and oat milk. The pumpkin spice was unique — a less cinnamon-y and sweet, more squash-like flavor. With the strength of a seasonal candle’s scent and less of the sweetness and artificiality, I enjoyed the autumnal flavors. Still, the taste of this drink could be polarizing because of its peculiarity.

Though lattes sometimes suffer from having too much sugar, Lab’s pumpkin spice latte had the perfect amount of sweetness, which made it more enjoyable than its overly sugary Starbucks counterpart. The unique flavor makes it an ideal drink to sip slowly and savor, enjoyable during the fall months.

Daily Arts Writer Cece Dore can be reached at

RoosRoast Coffee

Imagine a beautiful autumn day in Ann Arbor — sunlight pouring in through a kaleidoscope of multicolored leaves, tinting the world beneath the branches in a golden hue. You’re wearing your biggest, coziest sweater, and a light fall wind gently nips your nose while you shuffle and crunch through a carpet of freshly fallen leaves. The only thing missing is the perfect fall drink.

My lifelong search to find this drink came to a satisfactory conclusion at RoosRoast with their salted maple latte. This drink flawlessly balances every flavor, giving the rich, full-bodied espresso the space it needs to shine, while a nutty maple sweetness dances in the background and a pinch of salt brings the two together in perfect harmony. It’s easy to imagine stepping inside RoosRoast after a particularly brisk autumn day and warming up with this cozy beverage.

As for Roos’ other fall specialty drinks, it’s almost criminal that the salted maple latte is written on the same blackboard. Next up was their “chaider.” While one could imagine the flavors and spices of chai and cider lending themselves well to one another, Roos forgets to take out the milk — resulting in a horrifying combination of two drinks, a chai latte and a cider, that have absolutely no business being anywhere near each other — much less swirled together into some milky, watered-down concoction of sour acidic weirdness.

Luckily, their apple ginger blast was there to cleanse my palate with a fiery blend of what I can only assume was liquified ginger root and a whisper of apple. In the face of the fall flu and stuffy sinuses, this drink will certainly burn a hole through anything that might be keeping you from breathing easily.

Daily Arts Writer Aurora Sousanis can be reached at

M-36 Coffee Roasters

M-36 was sane enough to keep the milk out of their chaider, resulting in a simple, spiced cider. They also have a caramel apple cider that meets expectations by tasting very much like a caramel apple. Neither, however, were better than a mug of regular old cider, a fall drink I wish we could leave alone.

Of M-36’s fall specialty drinks, however, caramel apple cider and chaider take the lead. The cafe’s take on Starbucks’ famous Pumpkin Spice Latte is overwhelmingly pumpkin-flavored while the “spice” component doesn’t add more than a powdery aftertaste. Their “mashquerade” combines chai and matcha powder to create a seasonally-spooky green. The drink is just sweet enough to reduce the matcha’s bitterness, and the chai adds an enjoyable, spicy kick. It’s one of their better fall options, but probably not worth the $5.75 it costs for a small.

For the almost Halloween-candy-like seasonal drinks, the butterscotch pumpkin pie drink and frosty pumpkin mocha are astonishingly sweet. Is there coffee in either drink? It’s impossible to tell. Even their menu’s description of butterscotch pumpkin pie doesn’t bother to mention what the base of the drink is. Latte? Coffee? Tea? Who cares! All you’ll taste is the chemical burn of half a bottle of butterscotch flavoring syrup. Points for the spooky drawings on the menu though.

Daily Arts Writer Aurora Sousanis can be reached at

Hyperion: Pumpkin Tahini

As a lover of all things sesame, as soon as I saw the words “pumpkin tahini” on the menu, I knew I had to have it. While I sat at the coffee bar and talked with the extremely friendly baristas, I had high expectations for this latte. And yet, I was a bit let down by this one. While the espresso was smooth and the milk was nicely steamed, no pumpkin or sesame notes were clear to me. It tasted like any other flavored latte. To be fair, I’m not the biggest espresso drinker, and pumpkin itself is a naturally mellow flavor, so more experienced coffee aficionados may be able to taste the difference. In the end, this latte fell flat — I’d appreciate an addition of warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg or cardamom to give it more character.

With a lush wood-paneled interior and gorgeous bay windows that face downtown Ann Arbor, Hyperion is still an ideal place to spend a cozy fall afternoon. I just wasn’t blown away by this latte.

Daily Arts Writer Allison Wei can be reached at

Drip House: Maple Pumpkin Latte

When I stepped into Drip House, cute Halloween decorations strewn across the cafe created a playful fall aura. I decided on the maple pumpkin spice latte (like many others, I love pumpkin), made with housemade syrup. This latte was just above average: There was the slightest hint of maple, but with a name like pumpkin spice, I expected more cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger notes, spices of which I could hardly tell there were any. If I went again, I’d opt for one of the more creative fall specials rather than the usually reliable pumpkin spice — perhaps the caramel apple butter chai or cookie butter latte.

Daily Arts Writer Allison Wei can be reached at

Vertex: Orange Cardamom Latte (left) and Pumpkin Chai (right)

With an outside patio that’s perfect for sipping a latte, people-watching and gazing at golden leaves all around, Vertex is a fall favorite. I tried two of Vertex’s fall specials: an orange cardamom latte and a “punky” (pumpkin) chai. The orange cardamom latte tasted exactly like it sounded — bright notes of citrus complemented by warm, earthy notes of cardamom. Extra points for how creative this pairing is: It’s unexpected but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The pumpkin chai was also delicious. It is made from pumpkin puree and their housemade chai, and after the first sip I knew I would order it all autumn. Both lattes were served with beautifully poured latte foam hearts, something that Vertex consistently does well.

If you can’t pick just one of Vertex’s fall specials, Vertex has a “make your own flight” option where you can order mini 6-ounce lattes for $2.50 each. As a college student who is now feeling the impact of a $5 latte habit, I appreciate this.

Daily Arts Writer Allison Wei can be reached at