Christmas drinks: The round-up

Rachel Rees Middleton 6 December 2016

We usually go for americanos. We like our coffee small and strong. Let’s face it though, we are also the kind of people who get drawn in by advertising, especially when it involves food and lovely festive packaging. This is why we took it upon ourselves to sample the Christmas drinks the Giants are offering, heading into Costa, Starbucks, and Pret A Manger so that you don’t have to.

First up, Costa Coffee meets Lindt, the ‘Master Swiss Chocolatier’: sounds dreamy, doesn’t it? We’re quite sure we’re not the only ones to have been lured into buying this limited edition seasonal drink; Costa’s excellent advertising meant that our Facebook newsfeeds were filled with mouth-watering images of what appears to be a glass of pure, unadultered, melted Lindt chocolate. Do not be fooled. This drink was proably the biggest disappointment of the week. It could be described as little more than a standard (poor quality, at that) hot chocolate that came in a very small glass, was composed of mostly milky froth, with what remained tasting of not much more than hot chocolate powder with hot water added. With the outrageous price tag of £2.80! Sadly, not the festive start to the season we were hoping for.

Secondly, we took advantage of Starbucks’ 2 for 1 deal to sample all of their Christmas selection. Still in shock from the Costa experience, we made our friend order the Fudge Hot Chocolate. It was well presented, with gold sprinkles and whipped cream. According to him, it was 'not what I expected it to taste like, but a pleasant surprise'. Yes, our friend has the Christmas spirit of the Grinch, but it did little to remind him of the festivities to come. The mixture of cream, chocolate, and fudge was more snuggle by the fire than kisses under the mistletoe. The three caffeine related options, Eggnog Latte, Toffee-Nut Latte and Gingerbread Latte, were all pretty sweet and a bit lack-lustre when it came down to the actual coffee flavour. All were strangely watery and the Eggnog in particular had a bizarre, almost bitter aftertaste. At just over £3 each for a Small, these drinks don’t come cheaply.

Finally Pret A Manger. Their selection is a little less obviously festive, with Mint Hot Chocolate and Hazelnut, Caramel, and Vanilla Lattes all available. At £2.60 each, they’re more reasonably priced than both Costa and Starbucks and their cup design doesn’t scream Christmas kitsch. We went for a Vanilla Latte which was by far the nicest coffee we had tasted; there was more than a hint of caffeine and the syrup was not overpowering or sickly as had been the case with the other drinks.

All in all, the seasonal drinks are great for novelty, but lacking on taste and the caffeine hit. Our advice would be to save yourself, and your pennies, for the mince pies.