[Review] Starbucks holiday drinks do not live up to their expectations


Zoe Payton

As the holiday season approaches, Starbucks has released their new holiday drinks, like the popular Sugar Cookie Almondmilk drink.

Isabel White and Madison Friedman

With the arrival of winter, Starbucks has recently released new holiday drinks on Thursday, Nov. 4. Located adjacent to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the Starbucks on Holmberg Road have students raving about their fresh, delicious drinks that perfectly match South Florida’s sweater season.

This year’s holiday line up consists of eight drinks, two of which have stayed on the menu since the fall lineup. These drinks are the Peppermint Mocha, Caramel Brulee Latte, Toasted White Chocolate Mocha, Irish Cream Cold Brew, Chestnut Praline Latte, Sugar Cookie Almond Milk Latte, Pumpkin Spice Latte and Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew which has never been seen before in the previous years on the Starbucks holiday menu. The Sugar Cookie Almond Milk Latte is a brand new flavor on the holiday menu that we are beyond excited to try.

The first drink we drank was the Peppermint Mocha, which could be served hot or cold. However, we prefer cold coffee, so we both ordered iced. Containing peppermint syrup and mocha sauce, we were simply delighted with this drink. Taking a sip of this drink will teleport you into a Christmas movie. The Peppermint Mocha contains the perfect mixture of peppermint and mocha, unlike regular mocha drinks that tend to taste too chocolatey. It’s perfect for a cold winter morning, which does not occur too often in Florida. Nonetheless, the drink still tastes delicious whether you order it hot for winter spirit or cold for the humid Florida environment.

A tip we would recommend for ordering this latte is exchanging the whipped cream for vanilla sweet cream cold foam, which has a much better texture and flavor. With the cream topping, you are able to sip the drink rather than slurp it through a straw, which adds much more value to the drink. Due to the phenomenal flavor and Holiday spirit this drink offered, we would have to give the Peppermint Mocha a perfect rating of 10/10.

In an effort to compare to the Peppermint Mocha drink, which contains dark chocolate, we tried the Toasted White Chocolate Mocha, iced, which did not live up to the expectations of the dark chocolate version. The white chocolate was way too sweet, and made the drink taste like a mixture of pure sugar and milk.

The Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha contains the same ingredients as the original Peppermint Mocha, except it has white chocolate sauce rather than mocha sauce and no peppermint at all. The advertising was very off as it seems the drink is coated with peppermint crumbs, but they were simply red and white sprinkles. The white chocolate sauce was not tasteful, so we would give it a 3/10 rating. This drink tasted like a regular latte with nothing special. If you want a peppermint holiday drink, stick to the original Peppermint Mocha.

Another drink that was far too sweet for one of our likings was the Sugar Cookie Almond milk Latte, which tasted purely like a sugar cookie. One of us, being not the biggest fan of sugar cookies, did not enjoy it, but the sugar cookie enthusiast did strongly appreciate it. I would strongly recommend ordering this drink if you are a sugar cookie lover.

This drink could also be ordered iced in addition to warm. Containing sugar cookie-flavored syrup mixed with Starbucks’ blonde espresso, topped with almond milk and colorful sprinkles, the Sugar Cookie Almond milk Latte was just not fulfilling for a fellow chocoholic. Being better than the previous toasted mocha, but still not flavorful enough for everyone’s taste buds, the Almond milk Latte deserves a 6/10.

Next, the Irish Cream Cold Brew is only served iced and, in contrast to the prior drinks, has a more bitter taste. It has about half the amount of sugar compared to the other holiday lattes. Nevertheless, it was not sweet enough for us.

Stirred with Irish cream syrup and Starbucks cold brew, the Irish Cream Cold Brew did not taste like anything special, just a regular, bitter coffee. However, we did enjoy the fluffy topping of vanilla sweet cream cold foam and cocoa. Therefore, only due to the delicious topping, but not the drink itself, the Irish Cream Cold Brew deserves a 6/10 rating. We would not recommend this cold brew if you are looking to try a more unique drink off the holiday Starbucks menu.

With high expectations for the Chestnut Praline Latte, as the drink immediately prompted the lyrics of “The Christmas Song” when we first read the name of the latte, we decided to try it. We expected this latte to put us right in the holiday mood. However, we were sadly disappointed when we sipped the drink only to discover it tastes like old milk after cereal has been sitting in it for an hour.

Served either warm or cold, the Chestnut Praline Latte consists of a combination of espresso, milk, caramelized chestnuts and spices. Following the typical pattern of every other Holiday Starbucks drink, the Chestnut Praline Latte was another far too sweet drink. Honestly, we would not recommend this drink to anyone, even if you are the “biggest chestnut enthusiast,” which is why this drink deserves a 2/10. The two points are simply directed towards the hard work the barista put into the latte.

The Caramel Brulee Latte was the last drink we tried, which continued to complete the pattern of drinks that are just too sweet. We expected to receive a coffee, not a dessert or milkshake-type drink. This drink was disappointing as it tasted like a regular latte. Nothing about it sparked holiday spirit other than the Christmas cup it came in.

This latte is additionally sold iced and hot. Combined with milk and caramel brulee flavored sauce, the drink was overtopped with sugar. We both prefer sweet coffee, but even this drink was too sweet for us. We were only able to enjoy the first few sips before the sweet taste became overpowering. We could not give the drink any higher than a 4/10 rating.

All in all, the majority of the holiday drinks are quite repulsive. However, we will continue to go to Starbucks on a weekly basis for the Peppermint Mocha, the most perfect drink Starbucks has ever created.