Yes, it’s that time of year again: pumpkin spice latte time—or, in the words of HBO comic John Oliver, “the coffee that tastes like a candle.”
With its commercially festive ring and cozy vibe that makes us want to curl up in a cable-knit sweater, the now iconic spice has become a bridge between summer and winter. But there’s an entire world of elevated offerings beyond the basic Starbucks concoction, from locally crafted delicacies to delicately scented candles and fashionable shades of citrouille: Haute Pumpkin Spice, if you will.
The key is to navigate around the sickenly sweet or twee offerings—or the just plain weird (hello, pumpkin spice Kraft dinner). Herewith, our haute pumpkin picks of the season.
Pumpkin lattés and cheesecake
While Temper Chocolate & Pastry in West Vancouver serves up lattes with scratch-made pumpkin spice syrup and artisanal espresso (goodbye, Starbucks), there’s pumpkin to be had this side of the bridge as well, at Granville Island’s Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts.
Here, some of our city’s best future chefs hone their skills before venturing farther afield. Try the to-go Pumpkin Spiced Cheesecake and Pecan Tart with Pumpkin Crème Brûlée at the cooking school’s Blue Hat Bakery-Café.
Nespresso pumpkin spice cake capsules
As much as I love grabbing a coffee to go, I’m cognizant that a lot of us aren’t comfortable heading to crowded places right now—especially as COVID cases continue to climb. This is where a home Nespresso machine comes in handy. The limited-edition Pumpkin Spice Cake capsules infuse cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, and sweet pumpkin right into your morning brew.
But here’s the pumpkin spice hack: if you sign up as a Nespresso member (just agree to receive newsletters in your inbox), you’ll get wind of its crazy sales. Roughly twice a year, the company offers a Black Friday–like deal where, if you purchase a heap of capsules (we’re talking of the hoarders variety), you can then get a $249 machine for only $29.
Just this month, Nespresso members received an email with this offer: buy 350 capsules and get a $249 VertuoPlus machine for only $29. I jumped—I’ve now got capsules to last me through a long lockdown winter, plus an essentially free machine. This deal will likely come again soon, so sign up and stay tuned.
Available at Nespresso.ca.
Pumpkin chai candle by Nest
I don’t know why burning candles always feels like such a luxury to me—like nice bath soap and hand towels, I prefer to keep them at the ready in pristine condition. What if someone were to come over and I only have ugly soap to offer? But right now it’s the little luxuries that help assuage my anxiety, so it may be time to indulge in a few of the soothing candles I’ve got squirrelled away.
To wit, the Pumpkin Chai candle by Nest New York delivers intimate autumn ambience with a sensuous mix of wild pumpkin, spicy masala chai, cardamom, ginger, and cinnamon. And this year, Nest introduces recyclable cartons made from sustainably sourced materials using renewable energy. Sit back, relax, and take three deep breaths of pumpkin spice.
The pumpkin chai candle from Nest is available in-store in Vancouver and online at Nordstrom.ca.
Vanilla pumpkin hand cream
For the past half year, I’ve probably splashed a swimming-pool-sized amount of hand sanitizer on myself—and my rough, dry skin shows it. It helps to have a good hand cream, well, on hand.
The Body Shop’s limited-edition Vanilla Pumpkin hand cream comes in a tube small enough for your purse but big enough to last you the whole Pumpkin Spice Latté season. Its warm, baked-pumpkin scent with hints of hazelnut caramel, maple syrup, and almond milk also includes notes of vanilla. Nothing saccharine here: this cream is made with vanilla extract from Madagascar and is handcrafted with community fair trade shea butter and babassu oil.
Pumpkin hand cream is available in-store and online at the thebodyshop.ca.
Miller backpack by Herschel
Backpacks usually make me think of little kids trudging to school, but Herschel’s Miller backpack in a new Pumpkin Spice shade offers a sophisticated and minimalist twist that works for any fall outing—and keeps the calories on your back, not your hips.
At 32 litres, this carrier is Herschel Supply’s largest backpack so it works well for textbook-toting kids, but it makes for a smart adult travel case as well, with external water bottle pockets and laptop sleeve. Travel where, you ask? To every social-distanced urban adventure that awaits us this winter. Even if it’s just a walk around the block.
Available at herschel.ca and in-store at Indigo Books.
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