Mary Lake-Thompson Pumpkin Latte
Harborside Bakery Harvest Pumpkin Quick Bread

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[Flickr: KnaPix]

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[Photographs: Lucy Baker, unless otherwise noted]

Coffee aficionados come in all shapes and sizes—from those who slurp only the finest Sumatran blends, to those who will settle for nothing less than a perfect dry cappuccino with a creamy cloud of foam. My boyfriend stocks our freezer with trays of coffee ice cubes (to avoid the dreaded watered-down effect). There are also those java connoisseurs who turn up their noses at specialty coffee drinks. Let me say right now: I am not one of them.

I grew up in Massachusetts, birthplace of the Dunkin' Donuts Coffee Coolatta. My very first date involved a mocha Frappuccino. I have a sweet tooth and soft spot for blended beverages. Every year I look forward to the holiday season and the advent of sugar-and-spice flavored coffee drinks.

Sometimes, though, I don't want to leave the house to get my festive caffeine fix. I wondered—were there any good mixes for DIY flavored mochas, macchiatos, and lattes? It turns out there were. One of the best of them is Mary Lake-Thompson's Pumpkin Coffee Latte Mix ($8.99), which comes packaged in a gift-worthy cloth sachet decorated with crows and corn and tied with an orange bow.

Mary Lake-Thompson's Pumpkin Latte Mix

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To make a pumpkin latte at home, all I had to do was combine 2 tablespoons of the Mary Lake-Thompson Pumpkin Latte ($8.99) mix with 6 ounces of hot water or milk. I used water, and then topped my mug with whipped cream to make it extra delicious and desserty. The results were surprisingly rich and creamy. The flavor of coffee was clear, but mild as opposed to bitter, and gave way to a burst of spices including cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg. I would strongly recommend Mary Lake-Thompson's pumpkin latte mix for a celebratory Halloween or Thanksgiving treat.

Harborside Bakery Harvest Pumpkin Quick Bread

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But what would a spiced latte be, really, without something sweet to nibble on? For that I recommend Harborside Bakery's Harvest Pumpkin Quick Bread Mix ($4.99), available at many Whole Foods Markets and other natural markets.

While a lot of pumpkin bread mixes are more like loaf cakes in disguise, this one actually has a toothsome, nutty quality that makes it an appealing breakfast or tea-time snack. The main ingredients are all-natural wheat flour, barley, sugar, and pumpkin, and the only necessary additions are 2 eggs, some water, and 1/2 cup of melted butter. An added bonus: baking it makes your kitchen smell like heaven at harvest time.

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