By Madison Gillespie
This may shock some people, but when the pumpkin spice bandwagon rolls in each fall I never jump on it. Don’t get me wrong, pumpkin spice is an indispensible part of the season. Whenever I see or hear that phrase, I automatically think of everything I love about this time of year, including the colorful fallen leaves and my cozy scarf collection. When I first tried the beloved flavor at Starbucks last year though, the taste just didn’t resonate with me. Ever since that day, I have been hoping for the release of a new fall drink that I can enjoy.
When Starbucks’ Toasted Graham Latte made its debut this past September, it felt as though my wish had been granted. The first autumn espresso flavor to grace Starbucks’ menu in four years, the TGL has been described by many as “graham crackers and milk all grown up.”
Starbucks R&D manager Yoke Wong, the creator of the beverage, said that she drew inspiration from the taste of the cereal crumbles and milk leftover in your bowl when eating breakfast. As a girl who drinks leftover cereal milk straight from the bowl, the TGL instantly sounded much more appealing. I set out for the nearest Starbucks as soon as I could to try the toasty new latte.
The first thing I did when I bought my TGL was remove the lid and smell the goodness – and let me tell you, this drink smells amazing. A layer of graham cracker crumbles is sprinkled on top of the latte, and the heat of the beverage amplifies its sweet scent. The intense graham cracker smell instantly generated a feeling of nostalgia, making me think of s’mores and roasting marshmallows with my friends. Even before taking the first sip, the TGL had me engaged in a way that I had never expected.
I also could not have predicted how the Toasted Graham Latte would ultimately taste. I must say, I was pleasantly surprised. As I worked my way through the top layer of the drink, which consists of foamy sweetened cream and the previously mentioned graham cracker crumbs, the drink had a softer, lighter taste. The combination of cream and graham cracker was excellent and it definitely reminded me of cereal milk as I drank it.
Once finishing the top layer, however, the overall flavor of the latte was far more robust and perhaps even a hint spicy. While I cannot exactly describe what I tasted, I know that something else was mixed in with the espresso – cinnamon, maybe? Whatever it was, that unexpected spiciness made the TGL a much heartier beverage. Considering my usual Starbucks order is a frappuccino heaped with whipped cream and chocolate drizzle, I can really appreciate a drink that puts more emphasis on savory than sweet.
Another great aspect of the TGL is that it’s a healthier choice than other Starbucks drinks. A Grande (16oz) Toasted Graham Latte has 300 calories, 9 grams of total fat and 6 grams of saturated fat, which is a bit less than a Pumpkin Spice Latte of the same size (380 calories, 14 grams of total fat and 8 grams of saturated fat). In terms of sugar content, the TGL has 20 percent less sugar than the PSL – a fairly significant difference. Grande frappuccinos, meanwhile, are on average 420 calories and contain roughly 15 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat and 61 grams of sugar!! So while the Toasted Graham Latte may seem like a heartier drink, it is in reality a much better nutritional option for any coffee aficionado.
My one complaint of this drink is that the graham cracker crumbles sink to the bottom of the cup, leaving behind a soggy lump of crumbs at the end that is awkward to swallow. Aside from that, I am very impressed by Starbucks’ new fall flavor. The perfect balance between sweet and savory, the Toasted Graham Latte leaves you feeling warm and satisfied for a fraction of the calories. I would definitely recommend it to anyone and everyone.
So make a beeline for the nearest Starbucks and order a TGL of your own. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.
Featured Image taken from https://eatatstate.com/sites/default/files/pdf/ToastedGraham.jpg
All other photos taken by Madison Gillespie