Judging Java: Every Starbucks Holiday drink ranked

Written By Jake Dabkowski, Coffee Columnist

‘Tis the season, or more accurately ‘tis the season that major corporations start bringing out Christmas branded products and decorations despite it being well over a month and a half until Christmas. This year, Starbucks introduced a new Christmas themed drink (the Sugar Cookie Almond Milk Latte) and brought back some old favorites. Here’s how they all stack up.

Irish Cream Cold Brew (1 Globe)
The first thing I said after getting the Irish Cream Cold Brew was “why does it look like that?” Starbucks has some of the best cold brew of any chain coffee shop, but unfortunately the Irish Cream Cold Brew is simply not up to par. From a flavor standpoint the cream doesn’t blend well with the bitterness of the coffee. If you’re looking for a cold brew from Starbucks I’d recommend the Nitro Sweet Cream Cold Brew, as this drink is the weakest of the holiday drinks.

Toasted White Chocolate Mocha (1.5 Globes)
The Toasted White Chocolate Mocha tastes more burnt than it does toasted. Adding white chocolate flavoring to a mocha is a bit much; the mocha already has the chocolate flavor. The biggest issue I have with this drink, aside from the burnt taste, is that nothing about it tastes festive, it more or less just tastes like a drink you could get year round.

Chestnut Praline Latte (3 Globes)
As far as drinks on the holiday menu, this one is one of the ones that tastes distinctly Christmasy. That being said, the drink doesn’t surpass beyond it’s gimmicky holiday charm. It tastes a lot like the other lattes on this list, but a little less sugary. If you’re prioritizing a festive vibe over anything else, this one might be for you.

Caramel Brulee Latte (3.5 Globes)
This drink is one of the better lattes I’ve had from Starbucks, but it doesn’t come close to competing with the Pumpkin Spice Latte. In terms of flavor it’s incredibly rich, and if you’re a fan of caramel you’ll likely love this drink. The biggest downside to this one is that the flavor syrup is a little too thick, and by the time you get to the bottom of the drink you are more or less drinking straight syrup. A lot of Starbucks drinks suffer from this problem, but due to the richness of this syrup it is especially noticeable.

Sugar Cookie Almond Milk Latte (4 Globes)
This is the latest addition to the Starbucks holiday lineup, and it’s delicious. They’re also difficult to find. Most times I went to Starbucks to get the drinks for this column, it was sold out. If you can track it down, it’s definitely worth it. But it’s very sugary, and if you’re not into sugary drinks this one isn’t for you. Also, don’t expect it to taste just like a sugar cookie. It tastes more like they added sugar cookie flavoring to a pre-existing latte. Don’t misinterpret that as a negative—this latte is fantastic and would be the best holiday drink they offer, were it not for a certain mocha.

Peppermint Mocha (5 Globes)
The Peppermint Mocha is the definitive holiday coffee drink. Every year around the holidays, I go to Starbucks more than any other coffee shop for one specific reason: the Peppermint Mocha. A delicious blend of rich chocolate, creamy milk, dark espresso and peppermint drizzle, the Peppermint Mocha is a staple of the Christmas season … just don’t expect to see me drinking them until after Thanksgiving.