I love autumn – the humidity breaks, the air is crisp and fallen leaves crunch underfoot. It's easy to get swept away in the season and spend oodles of cash (and calories) on specialty beverages at the big coffee chain. This fall, ditch the expensive specialty shop beverage, and warm up with these tasty DIY drinks instead.

Pumpkin spice latte

A hot pumpkin spice latte is the hands down favorite when it comes to fall drinks. It's practically perfect. That is, until I read the nutrition facts, saw the 49g of sugar in a 16-ounce serving and realized there's not even any pumpkin in it. I found a DIY alternative that is not only cheaper (less than $1 per 16-ounce serving) but cuts fat, sugar and "natural and artificial flavors" of questionable origin.

You'll need:

1 cup milk (can substitute almond or soy milk)

1 tbsp. pumpkin puree

2 tsp. vanilla extract

¼ tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1 c. strong coffee or 2 shots of espresso

Maple syrup or sugar, to taste

Whipped cream (optional)

Pumpkin pie spice, for garnish


In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine milk, puree, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice. Stir constantly until puree is dissolved. Be careful not to let it boil.

Pour your strong coffee into a large mug. Top with pumpkin-milk mixture. Sweeten with maple syrup or sugar.

Add whipped cream on top and sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice.

Makes 1 16-ounce or 2 8-ounce servings.

Crisp apple cider

I am all about the seasonal ingredients, and apples are in abundance come fall. Whether you pick your own from the orchard, grab some fresh juice from the farmer's market or choose your favorite store-brand apple juice, try this delicious and simple cider for a homemade taste of autumn.

You'll need:

4 c. apple juice

½ tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. nutmeg

3 oz. spiced rum (adult option)

Cinnamon sticks and apple slices, for garnish


In a small saucepan, heat apple juice, spices and optional rum over medium-low. Stir constantly to integrate spices and avoid clumping. Once thoroughly heated, pour into mugs and garnish each with a cinnamon stick and an apple slice.

Makes 4 8-ounce servings.

Slow-cooker mocha hot chocolate

As the temperature drops, no beverage can warm you to the core like hot chocolate, except maybe a nice espresso. That's why I love this easy slow-cooker version of hot chocolate with an espresso twist.

You'll need:

1 1½-quart container of light chocolate ice cream

3 c. milk

2 tbsp. instant espresso grounds


Combine ingredients in slow cooker over LOW heat for three hours or until thoroughly heated. Stir and serve.

Makes 8 8-ounce servings.


Pumpkin Spice Latte inspiration

Mocha Hot Chocolate Recipe

Photo and Apple Cider Recipe

3 Easy Seasonal Drinks

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