We reviewed the new Starbucks and Dunkin’ holiday drinks so you don’t have to
By Leila Frankina
With the cold in the air, crisp leaves blowing in the streets, and the first snow on campus upon us, it is time to shift our culinary attention to the holidays! What better way to do so than grabbing a cup of joe at your nearest Starbucks or Dunkin‘? Which festive beverage to choose, you ask? We have you covered with everything you need to know, as well as our top picks for your holiday caffeine fix.
A coffee that tastes like a sugar cookie, what could be better? This festive iced latte includes the Starbucks blonde espresso blended with almond milk and sugar cookie- flavored syrup, topped with red and green sprinkles. This is Starbucks’ first non-dairy holiday drink, and while it is not super sweet, it provides a distinct buttery vanilla taste that cookie lovers are sure to love. If your go-to Starbucks order is the classic blonde vanilla latte or the vanilla sweet cream cold brew, this is the perfect holiday drink for you. This cookie-tasting coffee certainly lives up to its name.
Caramel fans, this drink is calling your name. With a combination of espresso, milk, caramel brulee sauce, whipped cream, and crème brûlée bits on top, this smooth latte provides a very creamy and sweet taste. This drink is perfect if you ask for caramel in your coffee…all year round. Ordering it hot will give it a creamier taste while ordering it iced will give it a sweeter taste. This drink is simple, very similar to your typical caramel latte, but it is certainly one of the more popular holiday drinks.
If you are looking for a drink that is not as sweet as the others, this is the one for you. This smooth mocha drink includes espresso, steamed milk, and caramelized white chocolate, topped with whipped cream and holiday sugar sprinkles. The strong mocha coffee flavor blends well with the toasted white chocolate flavor. If you are a fan of Starbucks’ white hot chocolate or classic white chocolate mocha, this drink elevates the white chocolate taste. We recommend ordering this hot, so the toastiness comes through most prominently.
Looking for a strong coffee drink? Then this option is perfect for those who especially enjoy Bailey’s Irish Cream. While this one omits alcohol, it gives a similarly strong creamy taste. This Starbucks classic cold brew is swirled with Irish cream syrup and topped with vanilla sweet cream cold foam, and a dash of cocoa powder. The chocolate and coffee combination is balanced nicely. While the milky taste of Irish cream is not enjoyable for all, those who do will certainly love this drink.
What better way to get into the holiday spirit than with a peppermint treat? This coffee blends espresso with steamed milk, sweet mocha sauce, and peppermint-flavored syrup, topped with whipped cream and dark chocolate curls. If you are worried about the peppermint flavor overpowering the drink, fear not. The peppermint is subtle but noticeable. It is the perfect balance of peppermint, cream, and coffee. Ordering it hot is definitely the way to go to taste this delicious combination of flavors.
Want to add a little bit of spice to your day? Give this latte a try. This drink combines espresso and steamed milk with flavors of caramelized chestnuts and spices, topped with whipped cream and spiced praline crumbs. With more of a praline taste than a chestnut taste, this latte resembles the sweetness of candied nuts. Available iced or hot, this drink is a light/neutral alternative to the (more) sugary drinks. Even if you are not the biggest fan of nuts, give the flavor a chance – it is not too nutty.
New to Dunkin’s menu, the cookie butter cold brew has been gaining popularity rapidly. This festive drink mixes together Dunkin’s classic cold brew with brown sugar and baked cookie flavoring, topped with cookie butter cold foam and cookie butter pieces. The cookie butter cold foam breaks up the strong cold brew taste well. Even if you are not particularly a fan of cold brew, the flavorful taste of cookie butter cuts it. And the cookie butter pieces are a great touch. It is a sweet surprise when you get a piece in your sip.
The peppermint and chocolate combination in this drink is amazing, and it tastes just like a dessert. This signature latte is a mix of mocha and peppermint, topped with whipped cream, mocha drizzle, and a sprinkle of hot chocolate powder. It definitely has a stronger chocolate and peppermint flavor than Starbucks’ peppermint mocha. If you like peppermint patties or peppermint bark, this drink is for you. For those who do not love the taste of coffee, chocolate, and peppermint work together to make this drink taste more like peppermint hot chocolate than coffee.
This drink is for those looking for something that is not super sweet. This holiday coffee drink is a classic latte plus white chocolate flavor, topped with whipped cream, caramel drizzle, and cinnamon sugar. Although the ingredients sound sweet, you can still taste the coffee and “toasted” flavors. In comparison to Starbucks’ toasted white chocolate mocha, it is not as creamy, but definitely less sweet. The whipped cream breaks up the strong coffee flavor
Overall, none of these holiday drinks are bad – they all hit the spot! The type of coffee you like and the specific flavors that appeal to you will determine your favorite. As a general recommendation, we recommend trying the Caramel Brulee Latte from Starbucks and the Cookie Butter Cold Brew from Dunkin’. The mouthwatering flavors of caramel and cookies are present in these drinks and blend well with the coffee flavor. On your next Starbucks or Dunkin’ run, definitely pick up one of these holiday drinks. Not only are they tasty, but they will totally get you into the holiday spirit!