Twelve Coffees of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas (kind of), Charli and I set out on a quest to find the best holiday latte. We wanted to find the perfect latte to curl up, watch a good Hallmark film, and daydream about the end of finals and the beginning of winter break. We tested lattes from the holiday menus of Starbucks, Aroma Joes, Dunkin Donuts, and Nest (an Orono staple). After 12 coffees, we had what was probably the most caffeinated week of our lives. But it was totally worth it, because we have brought to you our thoughts and rankings of every holiday latte we could get our hands on this season:

 

Starbucks

Peppermint Mocha

Claudia: This latte was definitely the most instagrammable of the bunch, with whipped cream and chocolate shavings on top. The smell was just like an Andes Mint, in the best way. The chocolate flavor was awesome, and the peppermint came through and even gave it that cooling effect you get from eating a peppermint candy. This latte reminded me of Christmas morning.

12/12

Charli: It smells delicious, 12/12 for smell. A little too sweet for me and it has a slightly odd aftertaste. But, it is super refreshing for a hot drink and I have to give it credit, it does taste like Christmas. I reckon I’d order it again if I had a sugar craving. 

9/12

 

Gingerbread Latte

Claudia: This coffee smells like holidays! It was super promising, but the taste left a lot to be desired for me. The ginger taste didn’t mix well with the bitterness of the coffee and just about all you could taste was the ginger. I wanted it to be just a bit sweeter.

7/12

Charli: So even though I am a massive fan of gingerbread, for some reason I had never tried a gingerbread latte?! It doesn’t smell quite as good as the peppermint mocha, but I guess we’re here to taste coffee, not smell it. Sorry Claudia, but I’m loving the ginger/coffee mix. Just sweet enough and the perfect hint of coffee. Get me a log fire and the Grinch to go with this and I’ll be in heaven.

10/12

 

Juniper Latte

Claudia: I had one question going into this latte, WTF is juniper? I was definitely not feeling optimistic going into this one, even if it did look so cute with all its green sprinkles. However, I was totally pleasantly surprised! This latte was delicious, it was just sweet enough and the coffee flavor mixed well with what I assumed to be Juniper. My exact notes were “This tastes like plants, but, like, in a good way?”.

10/12

Charli: Green sprinkles get an A+ from me. It tastes slightly like soil, but I don’t hate it. I don’t really understand what I’m drinking. So, I googled it and we’re basically drinking a Christmas tree, well the berries from a Christmas tree (who even knew they had berries?!). Would 100% recommend if you’re looking for a drink adventure but I’m not sure I’d have it again.

7/12

 

Eggnog Latte

Claudia: Eggnog is quite possibly the most controversial holiday drink and while it has been causing heated debates around holiday tables for decades, I hadn’t ever tried it before this taste test. One smell of this latte would put you off. One drink would too. It didn’t taste like there was any coffee and it was also way too sweet. I liked the consistency, but that’s the only compliment I could give this latte.

2/12

Charli: “I’m scared” is all I thought when I smelt this. I literally have nothing to say other than that it was gross and milky.

1/12

 

Aroma Joe’s

 

Gingerbread Latte

Claudia: Having had the Starbucks Gingerbread Latte, I was expecting them to be similar. I was wrong. This latte smelled incredible, like pie and I love a good pie. But the taste, as quoted from my notes was “like dirt and sadness” or “like someone tried to make gingerbread in a lab”. This tasted like chemicals and I hated every sip I took.

1/12 (the 1 is for how good it smelled.)

Charli: Smells SO GOOD. It tastes of super bitter ginger that I don’t think can be fixed by sugar. It also leaves an aftertaste of bleach in my mouth. Basically, if you want a gingerbread latte, go to Starbucks.

2/12 (1 for smell, 1 because at least I can tell it’s ginger)

 

Chai Nog

Claudia: Reuniting with eggnog was not something I wanted to do after yesterday. This latte smelled, and I quote “like breastmilk”. BUT it was actually delicious! The spices from the Chai totally transformed the eggnog flavor. It ended up tasting like a sweet, creamy chai latte.

8/12

Charli: Yesterday has made me even more scared to drink this. Smells disgusting and milky. In case you haven’t guessed, I’m not a massive fan of milk. But I have to say this is WAY better than yesterday, I guess the chai cancels out the milky eggnog. Still not great but I was pleasantly surprised, and it has a pretty good texture.

6/12

 

Peppermint Bark Latte

Claudia: This latte didn’t smell like peppermint at all. It did have a sweet peppermint aftertaste, but it was so slight you could barely taste it. It didn’t have that refreshing cooling effect that peppermint usually does which is a major let down to me.

5/12

Charli: Not quite as minty as Starbucks. But, it did have a good texture and level of sweetness. I don’t really know what else to say, a basic not that pepperminty peppermint latte. After we’d finished tasting I spilt this all over the table and Claudia, but neither of us were that sad that we couldn’t drink the rest.

7/12

 

Peppermint Bark Mocha

Claudia: My high praise of this latte’s Starbucks’ counterpart made me so excited to try this. But, this totally fell flat in comparison. The chocolate flavor wasn’t rich or delicious, it was also all you could taste. The peppermint flavor just wasn’t there. Santa would be insulted.

6/12

Charli: I have to disagree with Claudia on this one. Yes, the peppermint may not be too strong but that is fine with me. The chocolate adds texture and flavor and I would 100% order again. I’d say it tastes slightly better than Starbucks however, I have to admit it definitely isn’t as ‘Christmas’ so it’s getting the same score.

9/12

 

Dunkin’ Donuts

White Chocolate Latte

Claudia: I was not impressed by this coffee. It was good, a nice, sweet latte. But we embarked on this adventure to find the best holiday latte and there’s no way this is it.

5/12

Charli: I really wanted to love this because I love white chocolate, but I just didn’t. It was way too sweet and milky. I did like the level of coffee though so that was a plus. But overall it was just pretty boring and average.

6/12

 

Cinnamon Sticky Bun Latte

Claudia: I love cinnamon buns, so I was pumped to try this coffee. The coffee smelled yummy and the taste was good, but I’d much rather have a regular coffee and eat a cinnamon bun.

6/12

Charli: I was so excited about this, cinnamon buns are literally one of my favorite things about the US. It smelt good and had a delicious aftertaste but if you’d have given me this coffee without me knowing what it was, I wouldn’t have guessed it was cinnamon. Next time I’ll just get an actual cinnamon bun.

7/12

 

Nest

Gingerbread Latte

Claudia: It took me three tries, but I hate gingerbread lattes. In the realm of coffee flavorings, this is the worst. It’s bitter and sad. I drink coffee so I’m not bitter and sad.

4/12

Charli: I was so keen to try this I burnt my tongue. Starbucks’ got a 10 and Aroma Joe’s got a 2, I had no idea what to expect. It has a very strong ginger taste so if you’re into that you’ll like it. You definitely need to add sugar to counteract the bitter ginger. It’s definitely not bad but also not quite amazing.

6/12

 

White Chocolate & Peppermint Latte

Claudia: White chocolate and peppermint flavoring cost an extra 50 cents each. And it wasn’t worth it. It was a delicious coffee and I enjoyed every bit of it. But the lack of peppermint means a lack of holiday flair.

8/12

Charli: Doesn’t really smell like peppermint. Doesn’t really taste like peppermint. But, I like it. It’s not too sweet and has a slightly refreshing after taste. I’d order it again but not if I wanted to get into the Christmas spirit.

8/12

 

The final verdict:

You can probably tell from our comments that Claudia and I have completely different likes and dislikes when it comes to coffee. But, it’s pretty easy to say that Starbucks was the overall winner. Not only does Starbucks have the cutest cups and largest holiday menu, it’s home to both our favorite peppermint mocha (the highest ranked drink overall) and gingerbread latte. Maybe just stay away from the eggnog latte. We hope you had as much fun reading our review as we had creating it!