Fall coffee drinks

Fall coffee drinks don't have to rely on pumpkin spice for flavor.

Autumn has always been my favorite season.

From the crisp fall leaves and the gradual descent into colder weather, to family gatherings and harvest festivities, everything about the season has a special place with me.

When I was a kid, fall meant new sweaters, picking pumpkins and drinking apple cider until my belly swelled.

The first day of school would come and pass, and soon I’d be in the midst of fall break, spending time with my parents and grandparents, eating my stepmom’s “famous” homemade pumpkin pie -- who needs the store-bought stuff, anyway?

As I grew older, the things I loved most about fall grew with me.

Pumpkin picking turned from a leisurely but exciting trip to a farm to almost competitively scoping out the best pumpkin in the patch to carve. Halloween became the supreme holiday; my partner and I celebrate nearly the entire month of October with horror movies, spooky clothing and trips to local horror events.

More than anything, however, the things I look forward to the most are hot fall drink flavors, which could more accurately be called “a warm hug in cup form.”

Things like pumpkin spice, toasted marshmallow and maple pecan.

My taste buds yearn for them all to return.

Admittedly, I always anticipate getting off of work to drive to Starbucks on the first day of the season that they sell pumpkin cold brew. The drink is refreshing in the hot weather, but it still has that homey taste of fall that reminds me of falling leaves, or going to local markets. My friend and I exchanged photos of our cold brews this year; drinks are one of the easiest things to bond over.

If you are looking to go beyond the basic Starbucks, here are some local options for autumnal drinks -- coffee and otherwise -- as well as tips and recipes to help you spruce up your coffee game.


Special local fall drinks to try

Ginger Pumpkin Latte: Espresso, ginger spice syrup, pumpkin syrup, steamed milk. (Javateas, 1 Dutchland Ave., Ephrata)

Pumpkin Nutella Mocha: House-made nutella milk, espresso, pumpkin syrup, milk. (Rachel’s Café and Creperie, 201 W. Walnut St., Lancaster)

Hot cider with Ginger: Warmed cider, fresh ginger, cinnamon, apple slices. (Slate Café, 43 E. Main St., Lititz)

Golden Milk Latte: Almond milk, turmeric, cinnamon, espresso, local honey & a smidgeon of cayenne. (Square One Coffee, 145 N. Duke St., Lancaster)

Butternut Squash Latte: Espresso, milk, butternut squash puree, whipped cream, nutmeg. (Aura Espresso Room, 44 N. Queen St., Lancaster)


How to up your fall coffee game:

If you’re spending a lot of time at home, but you want that cafe-quality taste and feel to your coffee, here are some tips to give your fall drink an extra layer of quality.

• Buy an electric milk frother. Whether you’re more in the mood for a velvety latte or a frothy cappuccino, an electric milk frother will give you cafe-style drinks from the comfort of your own home, likely for under $10.

• Use pumpkin pie spice. Add a dash of spice mix into your coffee grounds before brewing to get the beautiful taste of fall without it being too overpowering.

• Make it boozy. Instead of adding cream to your coffee, try a little bit of Baileys Irish Creme.

• Make your own add-in Autumn Spice Syrup.

Ingredients

• 1 cup water

• 1 cup sugar

• 2 tbsp. Cinnamon

• 1 tbsp. Nutmeg

• 1 orange

Directions:

• Bring water to a boil

• Stir in sugar until dissolved

• Add in cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir.

• Zest the orange into mixture. Stir.

• Let simmer on low heat for 5 to 10 minutes until syrup gets thick

• Recipe courtesy of Javateas