This morning I went to one of the few truly local, quality coffee shops in our neighborhood. They serve coffee that has been roasted in Boulder, all the employees are volunteers, their food is almost all made in-house, and the money they make goes to providing clean water to those in need in Africa. To make the whole thing even more wonderful, they have a killer Pumpkin Pie Latte made with ACTUAL PUMPKIN. It is my new fall obsession and I don’t know that I can ever go back to the run-of-the-mill “pumpkin” stuff. And just to be clear, I have been obsessed with the pumpkin latte concept since it began. I mean, completely and utterly obsessed to the point that I felt a palpable sadness when we lived in Tokyo and couldn’t get anything similar.
Aside from my obsession with their current seasonal latte flavor, this little coffee shop made me smile this morning thanks to the kindness of three people. The first was a fellow mom, sans-children, picking up some coffee before she started her day. She glanced at my growing belly and asked if I was expecting and the conversation continued from there. She told me about her two kids, we shared sympathies for rough mornings of tantrums and trips to the grocery store that leave us wondering why we do these things. Then we moved to those sweet moments that make it all worth it: there are the impossibly wonderful little kisses, the hugs that never last long enough, and the countless other ways kids remind us why we get into this whole parenting thing. It was a brief conversation, but it was comforting to me. As this fellow mom grabbed her coffee and prepared to carry on with her day, she wished me the best of luck and she meant it.
The next encounter was another customer who had just walked in to order his coffee with a friend. I was leaning against the door frame near the coffee-pick-up counter, absent-mindedly rubbing my belly, and he said, “That is the sweetest thing ever.” I smiled quietly to myself and realized that, yes, it is the sweetest thing ever. It was a little sad for me when I was no longer pregnant with my son because I missed that quiet connection. Of course, I developed a connection that is much stronger with him in the weeks and months that followed his birth, but there is nothing like the feeling when they are still inside.
As I grabbed my pumpkin pie latte from the counter, the barista, who I’d seen the day before, said the usual “have a great day”, but he followed it up with something I wasn’t expecting. He said, “It was really nice to see you two days in a row”.
None of these encounters lasted all that long, but each one of them made me love that little coffee shop and the people that frequent it. It made me appreciate the fact that finding a little local spot rather than a chain can absolutely change your outlook on what would otherwise be a normal, run-of-the-mill day.
Today, I’m sharing my own version of a Pumpkin Pie Latte since I know the majority of you cannot come out to Old Towne Arvada and get one at my favorite little spot. And most of us cannot afford the $4 bill too often. I’d like to encourage you to make this for your friends. Share it with them and let the warm spices do their work to make them feel comforted and warm inside. And while you’re at it, take a moment to say something loving and kind to them.
Because loving one another can't hurt, right?
Homemade Pumpkin Pie Latte
Total time: 10 minutes
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice, plus extra for garnishing
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 6 oz whole milk (or 2%)
- 2 oz espresso or very strongly brewed coffee
- 2 tablespoons whipping cream, whipped and left unsweetened
- In a small saucepan, combine the pumpkin and the pumpkin pie spice over medium heat.
- Stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until heated through. This lets the spices really bloom and makes the pumpkin have a more intense, less raw flavor.
- Add the maple syrup and stir for about 3 minutes until the mixture resembled a thick (but not too thick) syrup. This is a lot like making a simple syrup for cocktails.
- Meanwhile, put the milk in a glass measuring cup that is microwave safe and heat for about 1 minute and 30 seconds until steaming but not scorched.
- Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of the pumpkin syrup to the milk and whisk to combine.
- Add the espresso to a coffee mug and top with the milk/pumpkin mixture. Stir to combine.
- Top with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice.
- Enjoy immediately!