This pumpkin cream cold brew recipe, inspired by the new Starbucks drink, is made with your choice of iced coffee and the yummiest pumpkin spice foam — which is surprisingly simple to make homemade!
Raise your hand if you love Starbucks’ new pumpkin cream cold brew coffee! ♡
Well, fun news — Barclay (who worked as a barista back in the day) and I have been tinkering around with a copycat version this past week, and I think that we’ve finally nailed it!
Turns out that the drink’s signature pumpkin foam is surprisingly easy to make in less than 5 minutes with just a few basic ingredients (milk, sweetener, vanilla, pumpkin purée, pumpkin pie spice and salt). Plus of course, when making your own version homemade, you have the added bonus of being able to mix and match your preferred brewing method, type of milk, type and of sweetener. So whether you go the skim-milk-maple-syrup-iced-pour-over-coffee route like me, or maybe opt for an almond-milk-honey-nitro-iced-coffee combo, or just want to stay true to the original with a half-and-half-granulated-sugar-Starbucks-cold-brew-coffee — you get to call the shots with your coffee order here, and the the options for customizing are deliciously limitless.
I also have to say that I’m a huge fan of this drink because it is refreshingly not too sweet. I make mine with even less sweetener than the Starbucks version (which is already mercifully less sugary than its famous pumpkin spice latte cousin), yet I’m happy to report that my pumpkin cream cold brew still tastes just as refreshing and autumn-y and pumpkin-spice-y as ever.
Basically, I’m now convinced it’s the perfect drink for transitioning from summer into fall. And let’s be real, conquering pumpkin foam at home is going to land you some major barista bragging rights. ;)
So round up these ingredients, and let’s make some pumpkin cream cold brew together!
Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew Ingredients:
To make this pumpkin cream cold brew recipe, you will need…
Iced coffee: Starbucks obviously uses cold brew for this drink. But I say feel free to use store-bought or homemade cold brew, iced-pour-over, nitro iced coffee, or whatever kind of iced coffee you love best. (If you want to make things extra-simple, you can always just brew a super-strong cup of hot coffee then add some ice.)
Cold Milk: Fun barista fact — skim milk actually froths up to make the best foam, which is what I used for the photos below. But if you would like a richer, creamier coffee, any kind of cow’s milk (1%, 2%, whole or half-and-half) would also work well in this foam, or stirred into the iced coffee base as well. We’ve also tested the foam with almond milk and oat milk, which can work too (although they don’t foam up quite as well). If using a non-dairy milk, I’d recommend trying a barista-blend (such as this one), which will foam up and hold its shape a bit better.
Sweetener: I prefer to use maple syrup to sweeten this drink, but you are welcome to add whichever kind (and amount) of sweetener you prefer in your coffee. (Starbucks’ nutrition facts list that they use “sugar”, which I imagine means granulated white sugar.)
Pumpkin puree: From looking at those same nutrition facts, I’m pretty sure that Starbucks’ pumpkin cream cold brew only contains a teeny tiny amount of actual pumpkin puree per serving. But we’ve tinkered around with the foam recipe and have managed to get it to hold with a half teaspoon of pumpkin puree included per serving, so that we can all feel like there’s some legit pumpkin involved here.
Vanilla extract: Starbucks uses vanilla in both the pumpkin foam and the cold brew.
Sea salt: Don’t forget to add a pinch to your foam — it makes a huge difference in the flavor. :)
Milk Frothing Options:
Ok, so I’m not usually one to encourage purchasing extra single-use kitchen gadgets. But if you really want to nail your pumpkin foam game, you will need to purchase a milk frother for this recipe. Some options:
High-Quality Milk Frother: We recently upgraded in our house to using the Nespresso Aeroccino Frother, which is a bit of an investment, but froths all kinds of milk (including a variety of plant-based milks) brilliantly. If you regularly make your coffee with milk, I highly recommend this one.
Lower-Cost Handheld Milk Frother: This rechargeable handheld milk frother is less than $20 on Amazon also gets the job done. If purchasing a handheld milk frother, I recommend buying one that is rechargeable. (In my experience, the battery-powered frothers blow through batteries too quickly!)
Espresso Machine With A Steam Wand: If you already own an espresso machine that has a built-in steam wand, it should work great too.
Other Options: We also tested this recipe with a few other frothing methods (a traditional blender, hand blender, French press, hand mixer, and just shaking it up in a mason jar), and unfortunately none worked as well as an actual milk frother. But if you’re in a pinch, they can all create a loose foam that works and still tastes delicious, even if it doesn’t hold up quite as well.
Also, we kept things simple and just frothed our milk in a glass measuring cup. But you’re welcome to use a steaming pitcher if you have one.
How To Make Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew Coffee:
To make this DIY pumpkin cream cold brew iced coffee, simply…
Make your iced coffee. Whether that’s cold brew, iced pour-over, nitro coffee, or just normal filter coffee (make an extra-strong batch and ice it down) — the coffee that forms the base of this drink is entirely up to you. Starbucks also sweetens their coffee with some vanilla syrup. So if you would like, feel free to stir in a hint of vanilla and your desired amount/type of sweetener* too.
Make the pumpkin foam. As mentioned above, there are many different ways to do this. I simply added the cold milk, sweetener (maple syrup), pumpkin purée, vanilla, pumpkin spice and salt to a measuring cup. Then used a milk frother to froth the milk until it reached a tight whipped-cream-like foam consistency. (For the first minute or so, I recommend holding the frother at a 45-degree angle, keeping half of the tip exposed and half submerged in the milk mixture, which will create a whirlpool with some large bubbles. Then submerge the tip entirely until the foam at a 45-degree angle, and continue frothing the milk mixture for 1-3 more minutes until it reaches a tight, smooth consistency.)
Assemble the drink. Pour the iced coffee over lots of ice, then spoon however much pumpkin foam you would like on top. Sprinkle with a pinch of extra pumpkin pie spice or ground cinnamon. Then serve and enjoy!
*If using white, brown or coconut sugar, I recommend making a simple syrup with the sugar before adding it to your iced coffee base so that it will dissolve well.
Pumpkin Foam FAQ:
What ingredients does the Starbucks version use? You can read Starbucks’ pumpkin cream cold brew nutrition facts here. But I will note that they do use milk plus heavy cream in their foam, as well as sugar instead of maple syrup in the foam and coffee base. So feel free to add cream and sugar to your drink if you would like it to taste as close as possible to Starbucks’.
Does the type of milk affect the foam texture? Yes. As I mentioned above, skim milk is the easiest milk to foam. But if you would like a richer-tasting foam, you are welcome to use other types of cow’s milk (1%, 2%, whole milk, or half and half). We also tested this foam recipe with plain almond milk and oat milk, which worked fairly well but can very widely from brand to brand. If you choose to use a non-dairy milk, I’d recommend trying a barista-blend (such as this one), which will foam up and hold its shape a bit better.
What to do if my pumpkin foam isn’t foaming? Basically, the more ingredients that you add to your pumpkin foam, the harder it will be to froth up into a stable foam. This is why I recommend using minimal sweetener, skim milk, and just a smidge of pumpkin puree. The temperature of the milk also makes a big difference here, so double-check that your milk is fresh-outta-the-fridge cold when trying to froth it. And if the mixture still isn’t frothing well, I recommend omitting the pumpkin puree entirely.
Can I make this without the pumpkin foam? Sure thing, just stir the foam ingredients into your iced coffee and they will still be delicious!
Can I make the pumpkin foam in advance? I would say it’s best made just before serving.
How long will the pumpkin foam last? Totally depends on what kind of milk you use, as well as how tightly you froth the foam. Ours lasted at least a good half hour when made with skim milk, but the almond milk version melted down much more quickly.
Where did you find these cute cold brew glasses? We purchased these ones from Crate & Barrel and love using them for cold brews (of all kinds). Update: It looks like similar glasses are now available on Amazon too.
Anything else? My biggest tip with this recipe is simply to experiment and tinker around with the ingredients to find the combo you love best. If you want a richer-tasting drink, use a creamier milk (or half-and-half). If you want a sweeter drink, experiment with different sweeteners and add more to the coffee and/or foam. If you want a higher foam-to-coffee ratio, then by all means, double that foam! ;) Everyone has a different preference with their coffee order (as evidenced for sure at Starbucks), so don’t be afraid to experiment and find what works best for you.
More Favorite Drink Recipes:
Looking for some more fun drink recipes to start your day? Here are a few of my faves:
Make your iced coffee. Prepare whichever type of iced coffee you love best. Then (optional) stir in your desired amount of maple syrup and vanilla extract until combined.
Make the pumpkin foam. In a measuring cup or frothing pitcher, combine the cold milk, maple syrup, pumpkin purée, vanilla, pumpkin spice and salt. Use a milk frother to froth the milk (see notes below) until it reaches a tight whipped-cream-like foam consistency.
Assemble the drink. Fill a serving glass with ice, pour in the iced coffee, then spoon the pumpkin foam on top. Sprinkle with a pinch of extra pumpkin pie spice, if desired. Serve and enjoy immediately!
Milk options: Skim milk is the easiest milk to foam. But if you would like a richer-tasting foam, you are welcome to use other types of cow’s milk (or half and half). We also tested the foam with plain almond milk and oat milk, which worked fairly well but can very widely from brand to brand. If using a non-dairy milk, I’d recommend trying a barista-blend (such as this one), which will foam up and hold its shape a bit better.
Sweetener options: I prefer to naturally sweeten this drink with maple syrup. But feel free to experiment with any of your other favorite sweeteners (such as coconut sugar, brown sugar, or white granulated sugar) instead.
Pumpkin pie spice: If you don’t have a jar of pumpkin pie spice (either homemade or store-bought) on hand, you’re welcome to just substitute straight ground cinnamon instead.
How to create the foam with a handheld milk frother: For the first minute or so, I recommend holding the frother at a 45-degree angle, keeping half of the tip exposed and half submerged in the milk mixture, which will create a whirlpool with some large bubbles. Then submerge the tip entirely until the foam at a 45-degree angle, and continue frothing the milk mixture for 1-3 more minutes, until it reaches a tight, smooth consistency. (Frothing time will vary depending on your frother, type of milk used, type of sweetener used, etc.)
Make-ahead tip: If you would like to prep this coffee the night beforehand, just go ahead and make your cold brew. Then stir together the pumpkin foam mixture and refrigerate in a sealed container until you’re ready to froth it up the next day.