The History of Pumpkin Spice Coffee


what to know about pumpkin spice
The Waka Life Blog

The History of Pumpkin Spice Coffee

Pumpkin spice coffee is a popular drink that is enjoyed by many. It's practically a mainstay for fall. Let's review the history of this drink and how it has become so popular.

The Origin of Pumpkin Spice Coffee

What kind of coffee is in a Pumpkin Spice Latte?

Most people link the birth of pumpkin spice coffee to 2003 when the now popular pumpkin spice latte was introduced. Almost 20 years later and the blend is one of the most popular coffee drinks when fall rolls around. In fact, even before 2003, there were a few other offerings of a pumpkin-laced warm cup of joe around. Still, the popularity kicked off quickly in 2003, and it doesn't seem to have wavered.

The flavor combination arose after a survey was sent out to coffee drinkers, asking what types of flavors they would love to see. Interestingly, the pumpkin option didn't make the top of the list. Still, the development team felt it might be worth another look and bumped it closer to the top.

For months, the team worked hard to perfect their recipe before its formal introduction. After being introduced to a test market, the drink was offered on a bigger scale a year after its development.

If you're curious about what happened before the pumpkin craze of 2003, we have that bit of news for you as well. Back in 1796, an American cookbook called American Cookery was seen to have a variety of recipes that resemble the spice combination we now know as pumpkin spice. The combination of molasses, allspice, nutmeg, and ginger provided a cozy pumpkin-type flavoring.

In 1934, McCormick introduced the world to its own pumpkin spice blend, and the product quickly became popular amongst home cooks wanting that feel of Thanksgiving all year round. It wasn't until 1980, though, that the thought of adding a blend of pumpkin pie to coffee was mentioned. The spice was used as a substitute for sugar.

Finally, in the 90s, coffee aficionados increased the use of a pumpkin spice blend in coffee shops in Florida and in Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, Faisig's Coffee Company introduced its own brand of pumpkin spice coffee in 1998.

As you can see, the pumpkin spice revolution started many years before it became what we know today, with a variety of flavor combinations along the way.

The Flavors of Pumpkin Spice Coffee

Instant Pumpkin Spice Latte Mix

There are many different flavors that can be found in pumpkin spice coffee. These flavors include pumpkin, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves—classic Thanksgiving vibes from the start.

There were many flavor combinations considered before landing on the one most people think of today, some that didn't even contain pumpkin. And the popularity has spurred a plethora of other pumpkin-spiced products, from doughnuts to cereal, to pretzels, and more. Not to mention the scores of other pumpkin-spiced drinks from a variety of brands.

The Health Benefits of Pumpkin Spice Coffee

Pumpkin contains vitamin A, which is necessary for vision health, immunity, and cell division. It contains antioxidants, which protect healthy cells from free radicals that can cause disease. When you combine it with other spices in the mix, you'll love the health benefits you can gain. Worth mentioning that most pumpkin spice drinks and foods don't actually include pumpkin as an ingredient.

Cinnamon is widely used in Chinese herbal medicine and is thought to have numerous medicinal and soothing properties. Cinnamon's distinct aroma and flavor are derived from the essential oils found in the bark, known as cinnamaldehyde. It's also thought to support gut health and manage blood pressure.

Nutmeg has been shown to have a variety of health benefits, including the ability to relieve pain, soothe indigestion, strengthen cognitive function, detoxify the body, improve skin health, alleviate oral conditions, reduce insomnia, boost immune system function, prevent leukemia, and improve blood circulation.

Cloves are high in antioxidants. These compounds assist your body in fighting free radicals, which damage your cells and can lead to disease. The antioxidants found in cloves can help lower your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers by removing free radicals from your system.

As you can see, the spice mixture found in your favorite fall drink might help keep you healthy as well. And depending on what else you add to your own pumpkin spice blend, you can increase your health benefits. Older recipe options included ginger and allspice along the way, both of which have positive benefits.

Pumpkin Spice instnat Café Latte

Although the actual pumpkin spice includes many potential health benefits, most coffee manufacturers use a pumpkin spice flavor, which doesn't always include all of these ingredients. Moreover, some coffee manufacturers will use completely artificial ingredients to mimic the taste of a pumpkin spice.

Did you know that you can make your own pumpkin spice blend and add it to your favorite instant coffee? Here is one recipe for you to try!


  • 2 tbsp pumpkin purée
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tsp Waka Coffee + 1 cup hot water
  • 1/4 cup cold heavy cream


1. Place the pumpkin purée, pumpkin pie spice, and black pepper in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until it’s hot for about 2 minutes.

2. Add the brown sugar and stir until the mixture looks like a thick syrup.

3. Whisk in the milk and vanilla, stirring often and watching carefully to make sure it doesn’t boil over.

4. With a hand blender, mix until frothy and well blended.

5. Make the instant coffee and divide into 2 mugs (mix 2 tsp of instant coffee with 1 cup of hot water).

6. Add the pumpkin mixture in each mug on top of the coffee.

7. Top with the whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon and the pumpkin spice.

Voila! Enjoy your delicious homemade instant coffee pumpkin spice latte.


    As with many things, there's another story to the popular blend many of us know and love today.

    The great thing is that you can take the spice combinations and easily play with them until you find the right blend for you. For some people, that might mean simply taking pumpkin spice from the grocery aisle and adding it to your instant coffee. Others might want to start from scratch and make something unique.

    Whatever way you want to add pumpkin to your day is up to you. For us, it's vanilla-flavored instant coffee and pumpkin pie spice with whipped cream!

    Get your favorite Waka instant coffee here.

    Waka Coffee & Tea