Holiday Coffee Flavors: Are They Any Good?

One of my favorite things is this time of the year. The holiday’s, the shopping, the togetherness, the festive decor. Everything about it is just so joyous. One of my other favorite things is coffee. I have liked coffee for a long time, but since I have become a mom my appreciation for coffee has reached a level I never thought possible.

Each year, different places like Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, and even McDonalds come out with festive seasonal coffee flavors and treats. So this year, I thought I would put them to the test! I set out to find the best flavored coffee that I think other’s would enjoy trying. The three places I had in mind to sample coffee from were Dunkin’, Starbucks, and McDonalds. While there are many flavors to try there are also many forms of coffee to take into consideration as well. Was I going to try the flavors hot or cold? Was I just going to try them as regular coffee or as a latte? The possibilities seemed to be endless. Since Starbucks advertises their seasonal flavors as lattes we decided all the drinks would be lattes with whole milk, and because I am from New England, we drink iced coffee year round. So the decision to make them all cold was not one I was opposed to; In the end they were all sampled as iced lattes. I decided I also needed some help and a few other opinions when it came to coffee taste testing so I brought along a friend and my fiance. Our first stop was Dunkin’ Donuts. 

At Dunkin’ we tried their two holiday flavors: sticky cinnamon bun and white chocolate. The experience here was less then excellent. They messed up the order a few times but once we got them we were on our way to Starbucks

Starbucks had a plethora of options. We decided to stick to three different flavors. The flavors we chose were: gingerbread, chestnut praline, and caramel brulee. The other flavors we could have tried were peppermint mocha and eggnog. When we received the beverages, they were all topped with whipped cream and a crumbled topping. While I felt peppermint mocha would have been a good flavor to try, we decided to leave that flavor to McDonalds. 

After leaving Starbucks we arrived at McDonalds. Anxious to try the coffees all at once, we ordered our final drink: peppermint mocha. Unfortunately, the person taking our order informed us that their McCafe machine was down and they were not able to make this drink for us or any coffee related beverages. So not only is the ice cream machine always broken at McDonalds, but so is their McCafe machine. 

We then parked the car and tried all of the drinks at once. We rated each beverage on a scale of 1-5. 1 being the worst and 5 being the best. Then we rated them from best to worst on the same scale. 

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Dunkin’ Donuts was first.

The cinnamon bun latte got scores 2, 2, and 3. This coffee was very bitter and “spice-y”. The only favor I got was cinnamon, no bun. Granted it was called sticky CINNAMON bun, so the cinnamon was expected. However, I never got the sweet flavor that one would anticipate when eating a cinnamon bun. The ranking for this one was a 1. Nobody seemed to really like this one

The white chocolate latte got the scores 4, 4, and 2. I enjoyed this flavor. I definitely got that winter-y flavor they were going for. However, the flavor was subtle and you couldn’t really taste it. So that was slightly disappointing. The overall ranking for this one was a 3. With a little more flavor this one might have been better. 

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Next was Starbucks.

The gingerbread latte earned the scores 3, 3, and 2. This one was also very “spice-y”.  After trying this one I came to the conclusion that I like gingerbread like the cookie flavor, but not gingerbread in my drink. The overall ranking for this one was a 4. The “spice-y” drinks were found to be too much for us. 

The next flavor was chestnut praline. This is my personal favorite. The scores it got was 5, 4, and 4. While this was my favorite I could see how this would not be a favorite for everyone. It was very “nutty” and had that warm chestnut flavor. So if you don’t like the flavor of nuts this one is not for you! The overall ranking for this one was a 4. It was very close to being a 5 though. Because it is not a flavor everyone would like we had to give it a 4.

The final flavor was the caramel brulee latte which got a 4, 4, and 5 from us. This one was very good. I personally felt that it was very sweet and maybe could be even better if not as much flavoring was added to the drink. The overall ranking for this one was a 5! This one was the best. We felt that this one would definitely be a crowd pleaser. 

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So in the end the caramel brulee was the favorite flavor that we gave 5 stars to. Some things that are important to note is that the Starbucks drinks all look the exact same, while the Dunkin’ ones are a slightly different color. The Dunkin’ drinks might have different amounts of milk or espresso in them, altering the overall flavor. Starbucks clearly used the same amount of everything, making it easy to tell what they were all supposed to taste like. The last thing to note is we are in a parking lot. This is the McDonalds parking lot. We tried, McDonalds, we tried. 

If you are anything like me, knowing which flavor is the best would make you want to try it too. So hopefully this will make you want to try one, or all of them too! Maybe you can stop on your way to work tomorrow morning and try one if you are that intrigued.

If you have tried one that was lower ranked on my scale, let me know why you like it in the comments! If you tried one of the others and liked it, also let me know! And most importantly, if you have tried McDonalds peppermint mocha hot or iced latte, please let me know if its worth attempting to get!

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