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Taste test: We’re falling for pumpkin spice lattes

Taste test » A look at eight versions of the seasonal beverage around Salt Lake City.

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Maverik, $1.38 (16 ounces)

At a glance

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Read reviews of four more places that serve up pumpkin spice lattes on Michael McFall’s tumblr page by clicking here.

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The Coffee » "Adventure’s first stop" is not yours for a pumpkin spice latte — or in this case, a pumpkin spice cappuccino (PSC) — if you don’t have an adventure-sized sweet tooth.

The Maverik PSC was surprisingly sweet and creamy, reminding me more of a melted caramel drink that leans much more heavily on pumpkin than it does on spice. The flavor is so prominent, it nearly drowns out whatever coffee is mixed in, and becomes a beverage akin to a frothy candy bar.

Which isn’t a bad thing. But I could only get through about half of the smallest size (16 ounces) before wishing I had sampled someone else’s first. I still finished the cup for the sake of a review, and concluded that if you got that Halloween hankering for the sugary stuff young and it never let you go, then the Maverik PSC is a great deal.

Location » Maverik is prevalent across the western U.S.

Coffee Noir, $3.22 (12 ounces)

The Coffee » Coffee Noir’s pumpkin spice latte fits this quiet neighborhood coffee house with its mild-mannered approach. The fall flavors are faint behind the light coffee and airy milk, announcing themselves in whispers amid the brew and only gaining the confidence to step forward in some of the later sips. Even the unassuming cup it’s served in fits its personality.

At $3, the PSL is timid in its asking price (relatively speaking) for what’s ultimately a mild cup of coffee with a blush of style.

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Location » Coffee Noir is the kind of corner coffee shop that’s marked by warm colors, a warm bakery and still warmer atmosphere; the kind of place where at least one man walked in with his own mug as he would his own kitchen. You can take a seat inside or out (with ample patio seating) on a quiet street amid old trees and homes. At 200 S. 1040 East, Coffee Noir is just far enough from the 900 East divide between city and neighborhood that you could easily forget the urban bustle is only a couple blocks away.

Coffee Garden, $4.97 (12 ounces)

The Coffee » I learned of this pumpkin coffee from a friend, who described how she wanted to curl up inside it until springtime. She’s right.

The antithesis of Coffee Noir’s light and breezy pumpkin spice latte, Coffee Garden’s pumpkin mocha breve is a warm, rich offering that invites you in, wraps you up and asks you to stay a while, there’s a fresh pot of coffee on the stove and a pumpkin pie in the oven.

The breve offers a dark chocolate treat with a tall glass of warm milk before it brings out the pumpkin pie and a hot mug of dark coffee. The chocolate, which takes a step back for the main course in the breve’s midsection, returns like a dessert for a rich encore at the end and leaves you with a delicious aftertaste long after the cup is dry. The thickness and richness of the whole brew slows you down to enjoy its layers as they unfold.

Besides, at almost $5 for 12 ounces, you might as well savor it and get your money’s worth.

Location » You can find Coffee Garden as an extension of Eborn Books at 254 S. Main St., but it closes by 6 p.m. The other location, a standalone and oft-packed cafe at 9th and 9th, is open much later.

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