Squash, maple, marshmallow: Skip the PSL and sip these seasonal drinks instead

PSL? Please. Try a squash-based Harvest Moon Latte -- an HML? -- at Peace Coffee.

PSL? Please. Try a squash-based Harvest Moon Latte -- an HML? -- at Peace Coffee. Peace Coffee

Traffic snarl at Snelling and Marshall aside, the Twin Cities is no great friend to Starbucks.

But with Pumpkin Spice Season™ upon us, we’re feeling the urge to wring as much fun out of fall as possible before snow blankets the ground. So, where to turn instead for spicy, caffeinated, autumnal goodness? Tie on that scarf, skip that drive-thru, and sip away with these six alternatives to the ubiquitous PSL.

Harvest Moon Latte
Peace Coffee
3262 Minnehaha Ave., Minneapolis; 612-877-7760
Peace Coffee thumbs its nose at the traditional PSL with their Harvest Moon Latte, which focuses not on pumpkin but on winter squash. While they have a rooibos latte, hot cider, and plenty of other seasonal drinks, the squash latte is a welcome twist on the now-classic. The brown sugar is balanced by cinnamon and nutmeg, and the foam is a blanket you’ll want to wrap yourself in.

Five Watt Coffee
3745 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis; 612-259-7519
For more wonderful foam, head to Five Watt and get the Sheepnose. Blending flavors of spiced apple, maple, and an atomized bourbon reduction with espresso and milk, this is one to savor. No, there’s no pumpkin to be found here either, but this being the land of Honeycrisp and SweeTango, we should really give apples their due. Overall, with its maple and a very faint (and pleasant!) burnt-toast aftertaste, the Sheepnose feels like an indulgent weekend morning, any day of the week.

Campfire Latte
Cafe Astoria
180 Grand Ave., St. Paul; 651-340-9471
If subtlety isn’t your bag, head to Cafe Astoria. Located just off West Seventh Street in St. Paul, they’ve gained a reputation for Insta-worthy drinks, and the Campfire Latte is no exception. Hidden away on the “secret” menu, this drink is pure fun, a novelty that begs for a smile. After biting into the giant torched marshmallow, you’ll suppress a laugh, feeling like a kid on a family camping trip again. The chocolate-turbinado-sugar-graham-cracker-crumb rim is both appropriate and silly, and the coffee itself serves as backdrop to this set dressing as you sit and sip.

Moroccan Mocha
Cahoots Coffee
1562 Selby Ave., St. Paul; 651-644-6778
Yes, you can also get a Pumpkin Spice Latte from Cahoots Coffee. But if you feel like being less #basic, go for the Moroccan Mocha. With whole milk. There’s no pumpkin, but it’s rich, it’s warming, and it’s spicy. The foam on top is a dream, drizzled with a zigzag of chocolate syrup, and after a few sips, your mouth takes on a pleasant tingle thanks to cardamom and other spices. If you like Mexican-style chocolate with a little kick of chili powder, you’ll love this coffee.

Cafe Astoria's Campfire Latte isn't subtle, but it sure is tasty.

Cafe Astoria's Campfire Latte isn't subtle, but it sure is tasty. Theresa Beckhusen

Pumpkin Spice Latte (No, seriously.)
Caydence Records & Coffee
900 Payne Ave., St. Paul; 651-207-6856
For #nationalcoffeeday on September 29, Caydence Records & Coffee somewhat sheepishly announced they’d begin offering their own PSL. The drink has become almost a parody of itself, but Caydence’s is subtle and not too sweet, made with Bootstrap espresso, a dollop of whipped cream, a small drizzle of caramel, and a dusting of nutmeg. Smooth and rich -- and thankfully, lacking that warmed-over, charred taste you’ll often encounter at Starbucks -- it’s the ideal drink to down as you browse the record selection, play some checkers, or chat with the friendly folks behind the counter.