‘Basic Penn Girls’ Do, In Fact, Exist

And while they’re ordering Pumpkin Spice Lattés, they’re also defending their right to do so.

By Charlotte Coran

With temperatures finally feeling more autumnal these past two weeks, Penn students were quick to react. Down jackets were in heavy supply on undergraduates, not to mention cold-weather accessories like chunky scarves, wool hats, and sleek gloves.

What those glove-covered hands were holding, however, was especially notable: save for a few diehards who refuse to modify their drink orders, iced coffee season has come and gone on Penn’s campus. Instead, the Pumpkin Spice Latté has entered the arena.

According to Starbucks, the Pumpkin Spice Latté (PSL) is its “most popular seasonal beverage of all time.” It has also inspired other libations that capture the essence of fall, like hot apple cider and caramel-infused drinks.

And Penn students are not immune to the craze.

“There are jocks that come in and do it [order PSLs]. I’ve served a few jocks who want, like, pumpkin spice-style drinks,” said Madeleine Andrews, barista at and catering manager for Williams Café, Penn’s student-run coffee shop located in Williams Hall.

There’s a specific type of Penn student, though, who seems to especially represent the profile of the PSL-obsessed customer.

“There’s like, kind of maybe what you would expect,” continued Andrews.

But what would one expect? Who are these Penn students who can’t stop ordering PSLs?

At first, those interviewed for this story played coy. “Definitely college-aged kids” gravitate toward the PSL and other fall-themed beverages, said Trey Frye, manager of Metropolitan Bakery, located at 4013 Walnut St.

“Some people be excited for the different lattés…I’mma say all the veterinarians,” said a manager — who elected to remain anonymous — at Kitchen Gia, a café located at 3716 Spruce St.

Could it be possible that only athletes and Penn Vet students were responsible for the increase in PSLs spotted on campus?

With a bit of probing, the truth finally came out.

“There’s, like, that whole, like, joke about, like, ‘basic’ Penn girls wearing Canada Goose and ordering pumpkin spice,” said Andrews.

But was it simply a joke?

“That definitely happens,” Andrews said. At last, it was confirmed that the “basic Penn girl” archetype was not fiction, but fact. Not only do Penn girls wear Canada Goose jackets and order PSLs — but also, they do so without shame.

Frye served to corroborate Andrews’ claim. “That’s definitely a college girl standard drink,” he said in reference to the PSL. “Girls that I would imagine are in sororities” are inclined to order the drink, Frye continued, and they, “tend to, like, look, act, and dress kind of the same.”

Not only do Penn girls wear Canada Goose jackets, order PSLs, and do so without shame — but also, they do so in flocks.

One campus coffee spot that hasn’t witnessed this social phenomenon? Capogiro Gelato Artisans, located at 3925 Walnut Street.

“We only serve traditional Italian drinks. We don’t get a lot of those people,” said Nick Bairatchnyi, a barista at the café, presumably referring to the aforementioned “basic Penn girl.”

Caroline Ohlson, a 19-year-old Economics major in the College, wanted to refute the stereotype that comes with such a loaded term. Ohlson conceded that she, “shop[s] at lululemon, really love[s] Soul Cycle, and like, wear[s], J.Crew,” which are all behaviors that are, “considered, like, very, like, white, middle-upper class, preppy things to do.”

That said, she doesn’t drink the PSL to meet society’s expectations. She drinks it because she happens to like it. “These are the things that I just naturally do and naturally enjoy, and so it would be really untrue to myself…to stop doing the things that I just, like, personally on my own enjoy, because I don’t want other people to only think I’m doing it to feed into mass culture.”

Luckily, those who serve Penn students their daily caffeine fix don’t necessarily seem to have a problem with their drink orders. In fact, they encourage them to order what they genuinely desire, despite the social commentaries that may come with doing so. “Get what you want!” championed Bairatchnyi. “If you want a Pumpkin Spice Latté, go get one — why not? They’re tasty.”