By: Alexa Ramirez
Fall has quickly taken over, leaving a variety of red, orange and yellow leaves, crisp cool air, and has the world pulling out their coziest sweaters and curling up with an endless amount of blankets. And out of all of these fall things, the pumpkin flavor beats them all. So in honor of fall, I’m going to be going to different coffee shops in Saint Paul in search of the perfect pumpkin drink to enjoy this fall.
I chose to go to Nina’s, a small business just outside of downtown St. Paul, but also to buy from two chain shops. Starbucks, a national and very attainable one, and Caribou, one that’s unique to the Midwest and is very common in MN. This system allows for a small business to be represented, but also for people to be able to go out and get the drinks they’re reading about, as some shops are more attainable and common than others.
The first place I went to was Nina’s. It’s located in St. Paul on 165 Western Ave. When I first walked in I noticed a calm, productive environment of people working, studying, and discussing; the perfect coffee shop feel. I ordered the Iced Pumpkin Chai (in a small size) which was written down as one of their specials. I really enjoyed this drink. It had a nice ratio of pumpkin and chai flavor and was also sprinkled with cinnamon which really tied it together. It cost me $6.09 which I thought was slightly overpriced, but definitely not because of the quality of the drink, just because of the quantity that was given to me since the size was small. It paired really nicely with the vanilla frosted donut and made for a nice fall treat. I would definitely order it again and maybe try it hot instead of iced. I rate this drink a 5/5 and would definitely recommend it!
The next place I went to was the Caribou inside of the Lunds and Byerlys in the Highland Village. The coffee shop itself was really pretty and was nice to spend time in. I wish I could’ve given my drink the same review. I ordered the Iced Pumpkin Latte in a small size. Its flavor was fine, but I could barely taste the pumpkin I had expected over the bitter coffee flavor of the drink. It cost me $5.19 which I thought was overpriced for the quality but especially the quantity of the drink. They hardly gave me any of my drink and instead filled the cup with ice to fill the space which was frustrating to pay 5$ for. I wouldn’t recommend this or buy it again. I rate this drink a 2/5 because I love Caribou, but this drink did not represent fall and wasn’t worth ordering.
Lastly, I went to Starbucks. I ordered a small Iced Pumpkin Spice Latte that came with whipped cream and cinnamon on top. The pumpkin flavor was strong, sweet and was not overtaken by the coffee flavor, which I really enjoyed. The cinnamon flavor also added to the fall theme that I have been looking for and did not get at Caribou. The drink cost $5.45 which was a little bit on the expensive side given the small portion, but I definitely enjoyed it so I felt I got my moneys worth. I would definitely get this drink again and recommend it paired with a warm chocolate croissant. I rate it a 4/5 because the drink itself was great, but I think if you’re really looking for that fall feeling, there’s better places you can go.
I loved writing about and exploring all these places, but I without a doubt enjoyed Nina’s the most. It made me happy to be able to support a small business, while also getting the most out of my money and time. So, to anyone looking for a great environment to spend time in while enjoying a delicious fall drink, Nina’s is definitely the way to go.