Here is a PSA (Public Service Announcement) about PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte): It’s not really all that popular, and thus not very available, in Thailand. The fall favorite drink first created by Starbucks in 2003 has a cult following in America — and since gourmet coffee chains are almost as common in Bangkok as 7-Elevens — it makes sense that Americans would go looking for their seasonal holy grail.
But the pumpkin spice latte is elusive here in Southeast Asia (with the exception of Singapore) — within Thailand, the only trace Coconuts could retrieve from the Internet backlogs is this investigative journalism piece a few years ago that says the drink may have been served in Thailand for one season back in 2006.
Even the staff of Starbucks Thailand were unsure if the drink had ever been served in this country.
So, when we learned that a tiny coffee chain, one that specializes in boba drinks, no less, was touting a range of pumpkin-flavored drinks, we were all over it.
Craft Tea & Co., a small kiosk in CentralWorld, has three pumpkin drinks being offered but, be warned: none are hot, none are spiced, and only one is coffee. The Tea Pumpkin Latte Mochi, Coffee Pumpkin Latte Mochi, and Pumpkin Latte Mochi can all be had for THB80 (US$2.4) each.
We ordered up the Coffee Pumpkin Latte Mochi, sat down, and crossed our fingers. It arrived, a pale yellow with a coffee layer at the bottom and served in lots of unnecessary single-use plastic, a sleeve, and with a fat straw. They have no non-plastic cups for those drinking in the kiosk.
The drink had two large mochi balls balanced at the top and stabbed through with a heart-topped skewer.
Though the balls tasted nice, they didn’t bode well for that fall feeling we were hoping for. We took the first sip without stirring it. It tasted of coffee with slight sweetness and something earthy to it that was, well, there, but we would have been hard pressed to identify it as pumpkin if we didn’t know what we were drinking.
Once mixed with the yellow milk, the coffee drink mellows further and the pumpkin flavor, while still subtle, is more apparent. The drink is pleasant, not too sweet, but might not hit the spot for those craving a PSL. It might be the spice element that makes it not quite right, since the American Starbucks classic version doesn’t taste overtly of pumpkin, it tastes mostly of the pumpkin spice blend they use, which includes cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and clove.
If we’d brought some spices along to add to this drink, it might have made a more plausible copy.
Still, we drank that sucker down quickly. After all, pumpkin coffee-loving beggars can’t be choosers.
Craft Tea & Co.
CentralWorld, 3rd floor
999/9 Rama I Rd.