by Ruby Martin
It’s officially winter now, and that means it is the season for wrapping stylish mittens around beautiful festive cups, sipping coffee and walking down the street like a true Richard Curtis-esque romantic heroine. However, if any of you are like me and cannot drink coffee to save your life/intestinal system, worry no longer. I have tasted the festive menus non-coffee options so you don’t have to!
5. The Gingerbread and Cream chocolate
Costa gets off to a good start by giving you a mini-gingerbread man which is a fun bonus, although it doesn’t seem to decide whether it wants to be crunchy or chewy, instead going for something unsatisfying in the middle. Whilst the flavour is delightful, it is much stronger than the gingerbread in the chocolate itself. Instead I notice the gingerbread in the actual drink is far subtler to the point it almost tastes orangey. It is nice however and the creamy chocolate blends quite well with it, hitting you first before the note of ginger. After a while though it did get a bit cloying and I couldn’t finish it due to it being a bit much, but overall it was enjoyably festive.
4.Hazelnut Praline Hot Chocolate
Costa definitely has to get a kudos for having so many non-coffee options, something which others lack (Starbucks in the meantime has an abysmal ONE). This one I had on the way back from work on a particularly cold evening and it felt like the definition of a treat.
It is essentially a liquid milk chocolate Kinder Bueno, so if you like praline, you’ll love this. The nuttiness keeps it from being too sweet and it left no weird aftertaste as these flavoured syrups are often known to do. However I will say it is rather filling and if you’re anything like me, you wouldn’t need more than a small.
3.Winter Spiced Hot Chocolate
So this is one of two non-coffee options Caffe Nero has offered, the other being Belgian Truffle and I must admit that Winter Spiced intrigued me more due to its ambiguity. What exactly does Winter Spice consist of? Nutmeg? Ground Mistletoe? The Taste of Your Families Disappointment?
Turns out, cinnamon. It’s just a sweet cinnamon hot chocolate. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The cinnamon isn’t overpowering and in fact the mild earthyness of the flavour grounds the sweetness. I will say it got more sugary as time went one so became difficult to finish but still easier than the hazelnut praline.. Also, despite being in an opaque mug and covered in whipped cream, it is for some reason glittery. Not sure why but it is just is I guess? Overall though still delightfully festive without being too much (taste-wise, visually on the other hand very secretly extra).
2.Hot Spiced Apple
So this is actually an old favourite of mine which I am glad has made a return. It is essentially mulled apple juice, which I presume they left the juice off the end of the name either to charge more or so they didn’t have to legally fill some restrictions of what juice consists of. It is the first non-dairy/non-chocolate option we have been presented with, which is nice for all those lactose intolerants out there or people like me who hot chocolate makes them feel sleepy. The bonus of the juice means it is less heavy, and whilst it is pretty sweet due to its juicy nature, the spices and sharpness of the apple counteract that. It is also feels slightly more hydrating in comparison to the milkier drinks (although I am definitely not a scientist so don’t trust me in this one.)
The only downside is the spice mix does mean it’s slightly grainy as you get to the problem. But at least you don’t have to worry about caffeine!
1.Spiced Apple Steamer
Whilst it has not the best name, this drink is, to put it simply, dreamy. The flavours blend beautifully together with the sweet apple being offset with the kick of the chai. It remains creamy but light thanks to the oat milk and left no weird aftertaste. It’s comforting, wintery and actually interesting. Overall this drink stood tall where others faltered, to the point that I have had this drink several times after the first tasting (including with normal milk as well where it becomes super luxurious)
The only downside is that if you don’t normally drink caffeine,this may take time to adjust to as this drink is still a black tea, it did give me an unexpected buzz.
Whilst I hope this helps, tastes vary so if you guys have any of your personal recommendations for your favourite festive drink, comment below or tweet us at @trashfiremag!