A few weeks ago, I provided some fun fall drink combinations to order at Starbucks and Dunkin’. Now that it’s November, you might be wondering what new fall drinks I can offer that I didn’t include in my previous article. Well, now that Halloween has happened, consumerist America has quickly pivoted to the holiday season. (In fact, many businesses were already selling holiday merchandise at least a week before Halloween, but now they probably feel more justified in their timing.) While the Life section debated about when the holiday season actually starts, Starbucks and Dunkin’ officially rolled out their holiday menus on Nov. 4. Here’s what’s returning and what’s new to the competing brands.
Starbs is as well-known for its winter holiday drinks as its iconic pumpkin spice latte, and for good reason. They’ve always been known to serve up quality coffee — in caffeine level and in flavor — but for the past few years, they’ve strategically expanded their offerings to appeal to more of the masses. Nowadays, Starbucks doesn’t just cater to coffee drinkers, but also to those who have a sweet tooth or can’t have caffeine. I’ve started regularly drinking coffee in the past year, so I can appreciate a classic coffee with one of the festive flavorings they offer this time of year. However, I wouldn’t pass up on more dessert-y drinks like the toasted white mocha or a frappuccino with any of the seasonal syrups.
Speaking of seasonal syrups, in addition to the fall flavors like apple crisp and pumpkin, Starbucks will be offering sugar cookie, caramel brulée, peppermint, white chocolate mocha, Irish cream and chestnut praline as sauces and syrups for customers to add to their drinks. This holiday season, Starbucks is featuring their peppermint mocha with espresso, steamed milk, peppermint-flavored syrup and mocha sauce topped with whipped cream and dark-chocolate curls; their toasted white chocolate mocha frappuccino; their chestnut praline latte “with notes of caramelized chestnut and spices” and finished with whipped cream and spiced praline crumbs; their caramel brulée latte and their Irish cream cold brew. A new offering is their iced sugar cookie almond milk latte made with Starbucks Blonde Roast espresso. I’ve enjoyed the toasted white mocha and peppermint flavors in the past, but trying the chestnut praline and sugar cookie flavors are at the top of my list this year.
As much as I love Dunkin’ for coffee-flavored drinks, let’s be honest: their coffee isn’t the strongest. I’ve been disappointed by their flavors in the past. The only flavor swirl I’ve trusted in the past few years is caramel. Others I had tried tasted too artificial or medicinally sweet, and I have been apprehensive to try new flavors despite how good they sound. Yet, for the past year, I’ve decided to give their new offerings a chance, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised. Sure, some of them, like last year’s sugar plum flavor, are still a miss. However, I think it’s worth giving their holiday menu this year a chance, with flavors like peppermint mocha and toasted white chocolate. I didn’t think these flavors could measure up to Starbucks, but I tried the peppermint mocha swirl in a cold brew coffee, and the mocha and peppermint perfectly balance one another — the peppermint isn’t too sharp or toothpaste-y and the mocha isn’t too sweet. Although my first instinct is that these flavors would only work in hot drinks, I can confirm the peppermint mocha still tastes fun and festive in a cold coffee.
If you need a festive pick-me-up to get you through the semester, Starbucks and Dunkin’ have more than enough offerings to get you to the holiday season!