As summer fades into a distant memory and the autumn breeze scatters multicolored leaves, you may find yourself desiring a toastier flavor profile for your beverages. If café-hopping with a group of friends across Emory and the Greater Atlanta area sounds interesting, check out some of these places for new autumn-themed lattes, mochas and bubble teas.
Panera Bread: Cinnamon Spice Cold Brew ( 3/5 )
Panera Bread, which has a location at the edge of Emory Village, has just introduced their fall menu. After a long day of classes, the frozen Cinnamon Caramel Cold Brew sounded like the perfect midday pick-me-up. As chilly weather seems yet to reach us, the choice of a frozen drink was fine.
With a generous swirl of whipped cream and an elegant drizzle of caramel, the drink was visually beautiful. The cold brew was smooth and easy to drink, while the faint traces of caramel offered a favorable sweetness.
The drink was pleasant for a fast-casual restaurant, and would have fit into a Starbucks fall menu. If you’re hankering for a standard, refreshing $4 fall-themed drink within close walking distance, this is the drink for you.
Kung Fu Tea: Pumpkin Oolong ( 3/5 )
While autumn-themed milk tea may sound strange, Kung Fu Tea in Midtown offers several new seasonal flavors including Brown Sugar Ginger, Taro Milk and Pumpkin Oolong that prove such an assumption wrong. A 20-minute drive from Emory, Kung Fu Tea offers an upbeat, energetic environment with a variety of refreshing tea drinks. The shop lets you customize your drink’s sweetness and ice amount.
The $5 Pumpkin Oolong had a creamy top, a bright pumpkin-orange base and a layer of boba underneath. Although I did enjoy the drink, the sweetness overwhelmed my taste buds. The pumpkin flavor was strong at first, but slowly lost its edge as the ice melted under the sun’s heat. Though not exceptional, the Pumpkin Oolong made for a decent seasonal treat.
I was surprised with the staff’s efficiency, producing my order within two minutes. Kung Fu Tea would be a good choice for those looking for something sugary.
Caribou Coffee: Pumpkin White Mocha ( 2/5 )
Next on my coffee shop hop across Atlanta was Caribou Coffee, located at the Food Court in SunTrust Plaza. After a confusing and hectic walk across Midtown, I arrived at the coffee shop and ordered a Pumpkin White Mocha. Initially, I was hesitant about the drink, as I am not usually a fan of hot coffee. At first glance, the mocha appeared very bubbly and mediocre. The
coffee cup also somewhat unappealing — half-empty and with milk drying down the sides — which further dampened my enthusiasm. However, as a book should not be judged by its cover, neither should coffee.
The mocha exceeded my expectations, moderately sweet with strong notes of pumpkin. The chaotic atmosphere, however, detracted from the drink’s redeeming qualities, as the food court bustled with business people trying to grab food during their lunch breaks. Regardless, the mocha was still a worthwhile $5 drink, though probably worth ordering to-go.
Cultivate Food & Coffee: Pumpkin Spiced Latte (5/5)
Suffering from a slight caffeine overdose, I arrived at Cultivate Food & Coffee located in Northwest Atlanta, near the Peachtree Hills neighborhood. Despite knowing better, I asked for the $8 Pumpkin Spiced Latte. Though overpriced, the drink’s flavor compensated.
The latte was beautifully presented, with a rich, creamy top layered over the hot pumpkin-flavored coffee. The latte distinguished itself from all the other drinks with a perfect combination of sweetness and flavor. The cream was pillowy and slightly cold, which contrasted with the steaming coffee and spiced pumpkin.
Cultivate also offered a very relaxing and calm atmosphere, a noticeable contrast from Caribou Coffee. Though the expense and distance of Cultivate makes it less accessible than all the other options, consider taking a trip over while exploring local hotspots like Atlanta Memorial Park.
The Depot by Kaldi’s Coffee: Baked Maple Pumpkin Latte ( 4/5 )
For my final drink, I headed over to Emory’s very own Kaldis’ Coffee to start off my Saturday and ordered a Baked Maple Pumpkin Latte for only $4 Dooley Dollars.
The drink was pleasantly surprising, as it was different from all the other coffees I had previously tried. The coffee was very creamy, more so than all the other drinks, and had a slightly bitter taste. It was hard to distinguish the maple and pumpkin in the latte, for they seemed to intertwine, but these were arguably the only shortcomings. The richness of the drink and the perfect blend of cream and coffee made the latte quite palatable, not too bitter nor too sweet, unlike some previous drinks.
Though not my favorite, this drink may be perfect for crammers looking for a bolder coffee flavor.
After a long weekend of putting Atlanta coffee shops and boba joints to the test in order to find the best fall drink, my conclusion is clear: Cultivate Food and Coffee’s Pumpkin Spiced Latte.
Although the name may be deceiving, as it represents the most basic fall drink, it offers the perfect balance of sweetness, pumpkiny warmth and bitterness. While expensive, the coffee shop’s atmosphere and superb flavors make up for every penny that could have been used to get two mediocre Starbucks drinks. At the short end of the stick lies Caribou Coffee’s Pumpkin White Mocha, which just about lacked in every aspect.