I love writing in cafes. I cherish the smell of coffee, the sight of cakes, cookies and all things diet-destroying, being able to stand still and observe life unfold.
I have written most (if not all) of my posts in cafes. From my local coffee house to gallery restaurants, I have been typing about the magnificent somethings I am encountering in between sips of lattes, filter, strong, decaf, often delicious but some times undrinkable hot beverages.
For the past few years I worked in retail (a truly Christmas-destroying occupation), so cafes and festive drinks were a welcome break front the maddening busy day, a reminder of the good parts of Christmas. I would go out on my break and chat to the baristas, and we would share horror stories about the most absurd Christmas requests (from removing the glitter from a glitter bauble to a skinny gingerbread latte tasting too skinny, too gingerbready and not Christmasy enough) and I would sit quietly in a corner, relishing the 60 minutes of freedom before the most wonderful time of the year attacked again.
Now, almost two years out of retail, I still get the same joy when I am in a café during the festive season; so I decided to create a festive drink advent calendar. My goal was to try all the Christmas drinks from the main coffee chains, namely Starbucks, Costa, and Cafe Nero. I would rate them, and ultimately find my favourite festive drink of 2013.
So, fully aware of how childish (and fun) this sounded, I started with Starbucks. Famed for their addictive coffee, stylish cups, scrumptious nibbles and caramel creations (yum), I had great expectations. I devised a scoring system based on presentation, flavour, consistency (not too lumpy or watery), and after taste (as I find that a few flavoured coffees end up being too overpowering by the last gulp). Here is what I found:
I started with the Eggnog latte, an oldie but a goodie. It always hits the mark, and has good presentation, a rather familiar Christmas flavour, and a good consistency. If you wanted to fault something, that would be the aforementioned after taste, as in parts the egg not became a bit overwhelming. Overall, I though it was a solid 7/10.
Then the next day I tried the Toffee Nut Latte. Great first few gulps, however it quickly became too sweet. The flavour was what you would expect, and it was nice, but I would have to give it a 6/10 based on the overpowering sweetness.
Next was the Orange Mocha, and boy was I surprised. I did not expect it to be as good as it was, but it had great consistency, a lovely flavour with a hint of orange complimenting the mocha perfectly, and a really lovely presentation. Overall, a definite 8/10.
Finally, my last visit included a Gingerbread Latte. Like the Toffee Nut Latte, it started off well, but then became too sweet. For that reason, I gave it a 6/10 as well.
So, Starbucks has been tried & tested, and I would really advise you to go for the Orange Mocha. Tomorrow I will be reporting on my findings from Cafe Nero, and finally from Costa.
May the best Christmas drink win!