The Christmas Coffee Quest: starting at Starbucks

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!



4 thoughts on “The Christmas Coffee Quest: starting at Starbucks

  1. IMHO the Costa orange mocha is faaaaaaar better than the Starbucks one… but then I’m very biased as Costa is my chain of choice when in the UK. Looking forward to seeing your thoughts!!

  2. So we don’t get a wide range of festive drinks here but I tried the Toffee Nut Latte and Hazelnut latte from Starbucks and thought they were too sweet but I got a gingerbread latte from Costa with skim milk and that was pretty nice… not that sweet.. 🙂 I still have to try Cafe Nero since you put that on the list now! 🙂 but at our local coffee shop we have peanut butter hot chocolate.. AND THAT’s HEAVEN IN A CUP! If you can’t find it.. make it.. it maybe be the “once a year one time drink” but its soooo good! Killer calories and fat I reckon but so worth it!

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