Starbucks’ PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte) has sentimental value to us. We used to sit at our local Starbucks, in Brookline, MA, and sip PSL (1.5 pumps, skim milk, no whip) while we worked on grad school homework and dreamed about our future business. And for YEARS the PSL has been the go-to seasonal drink at Starbucks.
That may be about to change.
We got a sneak peek (sneak taste?) of Starbucks’ new seasonal drink — Chile Mocha — and It. Is. Gooooooood. We are total suckers for a chocolate-chile combo, from molè to dark chocolate bars with cinnamon and chile added. This drink has both ancho and cayenne chiles in it.
Instead of using a chocolate syrup base, this drink is made by whisking a blend of pure cocoa powder and spices with steamed milk. We think the drink has a really great cocoa flavor, which might be a result of the cocoa powder replacing chocolate syrup. The heat-factor is mild but noticeable. Don’t be afraid to order this, if you’re really sensitive to spicy foods, but be aware that there is a lingering feeling of heat that hits the back of your throat. The combination of the heat, cocoa, and espresso was definitely a winner in our book. We especially liked it made with Starbucks’ new almond milk (called…Almondmilk). It’s WAY less sweet than their other dairy alternatives like soy or coconut milk (keeping daily added sugar in check is important, so we’re really on board with this option!) and really made the espresso and cocoa flavors stand out.
While we don’t have access to the nutrition facts for the new mocha just yet, but we’re guessing it will be really close to the regular mocha (tall with 2% milk and no whip: 230 calories, 26g sugar). We will update the post as soon as we have the full nutrition info.
We do have the ingredient list, though! Milk, Brewed Espresso, Chile Mocha Powder (sugar, cocoa [processed with alkali], natural flavors [contains wheat and milk derivatives], cinnamon), Spiced Mocha Topping (cane sugar, chili pepper, cinnamon, salt, paprika and rice concentrate). We’d love to see them come out with a revised formula that scrapped the natural flavors and used actual chile/spices/oils in place!
And while we on the topic of flavored coffee drinks, we have some tips.
1. Cut the pumps of syrup in half. Each pump of syrup contains 20 calories 5 grams of sugar (a little over a teaspoon). If you’re ordering a drink that uses syrup (most of the flavored drinks do) ask for half the usual pumps. Trust us, it’s plenty sweet even with half the pumps, but you reduce your added sugar consumption. For reference, here are the syrup pumps each sized drink comes with unless you specify otherwise:
Short = 2 pumps
Tall = 3 pumps
Grande = 4 pumps
Venti = 5 pumps
2. Consider sweetened drinks dessert/treats. The American Heart Association recommends women get no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar each day and men no more than 9 teaspoons. Even if you’re sipping your added sugar, it still counts. Enjoy it…and count it.
3. Order a short. You can get any drink at Starbucks in a “short” size. While a tall or grande size might be your go-to for something without added sugar (like a classic latte or cappuccino), when ordering a drink with added sugar, consider the smallest size. You get the flavor fix (for us, this is 99.9% likely to be a chocolate fix) without blowing all of your allotted added sugar for the day in one drink.
4. Add chile mocha powder onto a plain latte (or a PSL). The spicy-sweet Chile Mocha powder that is meant to top the whipped cream on the Chile Mocha is seriously delicious. Since Starbucks is so awesome about letting customers truly customize drinks, we will definitely be requesting the Chile Mocha powder dusted onto our green tea latte, PSL, and regular lattes in the future.
Let us know if you guys try the new Chile Mocha…and what your go-to espresso drink is. Also, our review of the new Almondmilk is here via SELF Magazine.