Tasting the sugar and spice of holiday drinks at Starbucks


Gloria Liang

Starbucks’s holiday drinks have been a staple of the festive season for years.

Marcela Ferrufino, Senior Arts Contributor

It is that time of year again—time for ugly Christmas sweaters, overplayed holiday music, first snowfalls, and of course, holiday drinks by Starbucks. On Nov. 3, Starbucks released its annual holiday drinks, giving its customers six new festive coffee choices. This includes the Peppermint Mocha, Caramel Brulée Latte, Chestnut Praline Latte, Toasted White Chocolate Mocha, Irish Cream Cold Brew, and Iced Sugar Cookie Iced Almond Milk Latte. Though they sound promising, the question remains whether Starbucks holiday drinks are genuinely worth buying or not. 

Peppermint Mocha: 10/10

First, the iconic Peppermint Mocha, which this year celebrates its 20th birthday and is one of the most beloved holiday drinks on the menu. This drink does indeed live up to its hype, as it was my favorite drink from the whole list. From its creamy mocha sauce and peppermint-flavored syrup, this drink made me experience what it would be like if you could actually taste Christmas in a cup, and it is delicious as an iced latte too. 

Caramel Brulée: 7/10

Next is the Caramel Brulée Latte, which seemed to unfortunately only be good for the first sip. This drink promises a lot, advertising an ecstasy of rich caramel brulée sauce topped with whipped cream, but in reality, it falls relatively short of these descriptions. It is good, but is not not anything special, and I probably would not get it again. 

Chestnut Praline Latte: 7/10

Similar to the Caramel Brulée, this drink appeared promising at first sip but slowly lost its touch as I continued drinking. Unlike the Peppermint Mocha, you do not feel its signature flavor of caramelized chestnuts on every sip, but rather just on the first few. It is good, but ultimately feels like a regular hot latte. In my opinion, not worth the buy.  

Toasted White Chocolate Mocha: 5/10

This one was really disappointing from the first sip. It is quite basic and reminds me a lot of the Chestnut Praline drink, which, if I did not know the title, I thought it was a regular hot latte. Its promise to create a toasted white chocolate mocha with caramelized white chocolate mocha sauce and holiday sugar sparkles are simply not fulfilled in the slightest. It is not bad, and I am not saying that it was not tasteful to drink, but I would not ever buy it again. 

Iced Sugar Cookie Almond Milk Latte: 7/10

I really wanted to enjoy this one. It just sounded terrific and was made with almond milk—I am a little lactose intolerant—but it once again follows the overall trend of only being good for the first few sips. I remember tasting the sugar cookie syrup so clearly when I first tried it but then feeling as if the sweet flavor slowly diminished as I continued to drink. It did get better halfway, but with its faint flavor and a rather strong aftertaste, I would not buy this drink again. 

Irish Cream Cold Brew: 8/10

This drink surprised me the most because I was not expecting to like it at all. I never have cold brew coffee; it has just never been my thing. But this Irish Cream Cold Brew delight is my second favorite drink on this list. Everything about the cold brew with Irish Cream syrup was utterly addicting, and its topping of vanilla sweet cream foam and line of cocoa powder was just so incredible. Overall, I would one hundred percent buy this drink again. 

Starbucks has made holiday drinks for twenty-five years now, and even with its absolutely lovely holiday cup design (which, all in all, is a 10/10), its drinks overall do not live up to its hype and high price. I only truly enjoyed two drinks out of a list of six, and considering that it felt like I was promised something huge with each, it feels pretty disappointing to say that I do not recommend most of Starbucks holiday drinks this season.