Holiday Happenings: The definitive guide to holiday coffees

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Christmas Present Mocha at Over Flow Coffee House in Liberty.

When the seasons change, one of my priorities is tasting all relevant seasonal coffees. The holiday season is no different. Starbucks released their selection Nov. 2, and I was there that morning. Here is my official rundown and review of a few holiday drinks.

Starbucks Peppermint Mocha:

This drink is the classic winter, feel-good beverage. As soon as I think of snow, I want to be drinking a peppermint mocha and singing Christmas songs. While this drink, like most Starbucks seasonal drinks, is very sweet and lacks a prominent coffee flavor, its sweetness could only be enhanced by adding whipped cream. I mean really, if part of the holiday season isn’t developing a sweet-tooth, then what is it?

Though if you do want it to be a little less overwhelmingly sweet, I suggest adding a shot of espresso to the drink.

Overall, you can’t skip this holiday icon and just can’t go wrong when ordering it.

Starbucks Caramel Brulee Latte:

I was so excited for this drink, but, honestly, I have some beef with it. While it is warming and sweet and helps to get you in the mood for the holiday season, it is essentially identical in taste to their fall specialty drink–the salted caramel mocha.

One would think a mocha would taste distinctly different from a latte, but one would be sorely mistaken in this case. Even if the chocolate from the mocha were prominent, I still think it is misleading for Starbucks to use what seems to be the same flavors in two drinks with fairly distinct names. Did they just think caramel brulee sounded more wintry? I honestly felt a bit betrayed when trying it.

That said, the caramel brulee latte was delicious and not excessively sweet–I would recommend it.

Roasterie Peppermint Mocha:

At our very own Perch, I was submitting my order of a Cardinal Grind (10/10 would recommend, especially iced) when I was asked if I had tried the peppermint mocha. I had previously been under the impression that the Cardinal Grind was essentially a peppermint mocha.

I was so wrong. The mocha had excellent peppermint flavor without being overwhelmingly chocolately. Whereas the Starbucks mocha sometimes has a chalky feel to its chocolate, the Roasterie mocha was smooth as could be.

With some whipped cream to top off the experience, this was the perfect peppermint mocha and we are so lucky to have them nearby.

Starbucks Eggnog Latte:

This latte is a subtle holiday drink. The eggnog was present but not overwhelming and the spices added to the drink were obvious but not excessive. I thoroughly enjoyed this latte and think it is an excellent way to indulge in the holiday spirit without feeling *too* basic.

Overall enjoyable, even if you’re not a huge fan of eggnog–it’s just hidden enough.

A selection of holiday coffees from Starbucks. (Photo courtesy of Starbucks)

Starbucks Juniper Latte:

This latte was also understated and calming. With evergreen hints, it satisfied a desire for Christmas spirit without going too hard and hitting you over the head with a candy cane or Christmas tree. It was nothing that special, just a solid seasonal drink.

Overall, I would recommend, especially if you want to be seasonal but hate those over-the-top sugary specialty drinks.

Over Flow Coffee House Christmas Present Mocha:

Okay guys, for real. I. Love. This. New. Coffeeshop. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Over Flow has amazing coffee–they carry Messenger as well as more local roasters–and crepes. So when I saw their holiday specials, I was ecstatic! This mocha is, as promised, a present. It is sweet, chocolatey, minty and beautiful. If you chose to pair it with one of their signature crepes, you may just transcend.

Overall, this is the holiday drink I most recommend. The environment of Over Flow, the quality of the coffee and the quality of presentation simply cannot be beaten.

Cover photo courtesy of Christina Kirk.

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