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Spiced coffee for the collegiate soul: pumpkin spice drinks to brighten up your holiday season

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Spiced coffee for the collegiate soul: pumpkin spice drinks to brighten up your holiday season

A cup of coffee.

A cup of coffee.

Dreamstime/TNS

A cup of coffee.

Dreamstime/TNS

Dreamstime/TNS

A cup of coffee.

Greg Svirnovskiy, Reporter

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2018 Holiday Guide


During December in Evanston, the air gets so cold you can see your breath and walks from Elder Hall to the south of campus look more treacherous than a climb to Everest. When it’s finger-numbingly cold, we turn to coffee in the name of comfort. Throughout Evanston, coffee shops are pushing new fangled holiday flavors onto their menus and decorating their storefronts with red and green shrubbery. Along with a good friend and my trusty cell phone voice memos app to record my initial thoughts, I set out to find the three best pumpkin spice flavored drinks in Evanston. The catch is that each drink ordered had to fit a college student’s budget of $5 or less.

Colectivo Coffee: 716 Church St.

Colectivo coffee can best be described as a lively contradiction. The exterior is calm; red lettering adorns the store front, proudly displaying the name. Aside from that, it is disguised within the main streets of Evanston with little distinguishing the shop from their neighbors.
The inside is an entirely different story. The whole front of the house is wood-based: lanterns fill the space and cool colored panels hang on walls. Macbooks are everywhere. Throughout the entire place, students sit, typing away at essays, reading notes for class, deep in the throws of the upcoming finals season. That’s the atmosphere — so remarkably busy and yet quiet, with each employee and consumer focused on their own mission.

I ordered the seasonal Autumn Spice Cappuccino for $4.25, and we were each handed a small yellow cup, filled to the brim with warm coffee. The coffee house literally scrapes off flakes of pumpkin pie to top the latte. The flakes dissolve to the bottom after a bit of mixing and add a warm fragrance of pumpkin to an already delicious drink. It is full-bodied — a little thicker than water but not overpoweringly so. I don’t know if anything can top this.

Patisserie Coralie: 600 Davis St.

As I entered Patisserie Coralie, I felt like I was walking into Paris. The shop is composed of white walls and bistro chairs and filled with pink chandeliers and macaroons. If Colectivo is a modern, student centered hot spot, the Patisserie is perhaps the exact opposite. It was calm and warm, the perfect place for brunch on a Sunday morning.

We order the Autumn Spice Latte. The smallest size at the Patisserie is significantly larger than at Colectivo. They added an excessive amount of whipped cream and topped everything off with an equally generous dusting of pumpkin spice. The drink tasted buttery and of a decadent mix of cream and pumpkin, so refined that it felt like what I was drinking should have cost far more than the paltry $4.25 I paid. It was lighter than at Colectivo, but otherwise the two drinks tasted remarkably similar. That being said, I’m a sucker for whipped cream.

Starbucks: 1734 Sherman Ave.

Our next stop takes us to Starbucks. It’s the standard-bearer, present on Northwestern’s campus and in roughly 14,000 other locations throughout the United States. The front of the house bore a slight resemblance to that of Colectivo, with a more modern feel than the Patisserie. It was filled with people, busy in their own work and conversations.

We order the Pumpkin Spice Latte for $4.25, expecting a drink similar to those of our first two stops, but it fell far short. The pumpkin taste is overpowering and it was as if they shoved an entire pie into an 8 ounce cup of coffee. I could only take a few sips at a time before it became too much. There was no whipped cream or pie flakes on top of the drink and no nuanced flavor or character.

Email: gregorysvirnovskiy2022@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @Gsvirnovskiy

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