It’s fall — and with the color-changing leaves and the chill in the air — so, too, comes pumpkin spice latte season. But for those without a sweet tooth, it’s easy to feel left out from this particular caffeine craze. This low-sugar, iced coffee drink satisfies with a rich, earthy pumpkin flavor and a warm blend of spices, echoing everything we love about the classic coffee shop version without overwhelming your tastebuds or your blood glucose levels. This drink can also be made hot, but the iced version is perfect for when you want the warm, cozy feelings of fall in sunny Santa Barbara, where actually staying warm isn’t a high priority.

Katherine McCabe / Daily Nexus


  • 4 tablespoons pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup milk of choice (I use unsweetened oat)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon cloves
  • 1 tablespoon agave or other sweetener (optional)
  • 2 shots espresso or ½ cup strongly brewed coffee


  1. Add pumpkin puree, milk, spices and, if you so choose, your sweetener of choice to a glass.
  2. Mix vigorously — ideally with a milk frother — to get a nice layer of foam at the top.
  3. Add ice until the cup is three-quarters of the way full.
  4. Carefully pour espresso or coffee over the ice to achieve the layered look of the coffee over the pumpkin milk mixture. 
  5. Top with an additional sprinkle of cinnamon, serve and enjoy!

This drink is a quick, easy and perfect way to get in on the pumpkin trend without overdoing it on sugar. It’s also a great way to get the energy from caffeine without the sugar crash later. Since pumpkin is often served in sugar-loaded pies, casseroles or, of course, the famed PSL, it’s easy to forget that it has its own health benefits, including high levels of vitamin A, vitamin C and fiber. Cheers to that!

A version of this article was featured on p.12 of the October 21, 2021 print edition of the Daily Nexus.