by Ben Banks
Due to Ruby’s weak constitution not being able to stand caffeine in high doses, we sent our roving reporter and coffee connoisseur Ben Banks on a mission to find the best Christmas coffee out there. These were the results…
We begin our festive coffee journey at Starbucks, with a gingerbread latte. My wait was short and sweet, which was a shame because I could not say the same thing for my little coffee. The first thing I met when I took the lid off was the whipped cream and an embarrassingly shy sprinkle of gingerbread. As I started to sip my way thought the drink, my expectations for a warm and cosy mouthful of dreamy gingerbread and coffee were quickly doused, like a fire hose crushing a house of cards. The gingerbread flavours were slightly off and tasted metallic, and sadly the coffee half of the drink did nothing to excite me either.
Creme Brûlée Latte
Pret A Manger
As we now move onto the fancy french cuisine part of our jingly journey, I thought Pret A Manger, the most fancy french cuisine of coffee shops, would only be fitting to sample a creme brûlée latte. The drink was small, smelled very tempting, and briefly made me feel très bourgeois just holding the thing. Little did I know how fleeting these good feelings would be.
The creme brûlée latte flavours did not remind me of a real creme brûlée. Or Christmas. Or anything. My mind became totally blank and grey, and I simply consumed the rest of it as an empty, hollow person. I was left very disappointed and not wanting more, but just wanting…better.
Caramelised Orange Latte
This is where things began to turn around. As I ordered my drink, I watched the master barista add a small hard orange wedge into my cup before preparing the coffee, and completing the triage with whipped cream. I’ll be honest here, I was initially very unsure what to expect with this drink. As I puckered my lips ready to take my first sip, like a nervous teenager about to kiss a crush, I was washed with the warm and seductive smell. I took a sip. Then another. Followed by another. Before I could even put pencil to paper to begin to describe my feelings, I found myself holding an empty cup in my hand. The flavours were rich, romantic, and left a sweet aftertaste have introduced sweet memories of Terry’s chocolate oranges.
Caramelised Almond Brittle Latte
Well that was a mouth full. I’m not sure what it is about the Christmas season but coffee shops just like to caramelise everything they can get their hands on. In the next chapter of my java journey, I swung by Caffe Nero. The festive menu was a little smaller than the other cafes – there were two hot chocolate drinks and two lattes. I asked for one Caramelised Almond Brittle Latte, and with each word came a look of surprise and confusion from the Barista – I hope I pronounced all of those words right. It was served with whipped cream and a light sprinkle of crunched up almonds. This drink had a calm, comforting and familiarly nutty flavour that made me want to cuddle it in both hands. Then maybe wrap it in a scarf and make a snowman with it. Before I could make this fantasy become reality however, I was left with an empty cup and a whipped cream moustache. If you’re a fan of a sweet, but also cosy drink, this one has your name on it.
Flat White with Cinnamon Sprinkles
We finish back where we started, at the little old global franchise Starbucks. This time however for a flat white with cinnamon sprinkles. Now, I live and breathe flat whites – I usually sink two to three a day just to feel normal (admittedly where normal is a feeling of constant agitation and poor sleep quality). So I was keen to try one sprinkled with cinnamon. I might be a bit of a festive hermit but does a sprinkle of cinnamon make something Christmassy? Who knows. This drink was small, and during the first few sips I couldn’t escape the cinnamon cloud around my throat and nose from the topping. Once I was past this asphyxiation phase though, I could enjoy the hot and spicy coffee. It leaves a sweet aftertaste that reminds me of curries. I just wish they could sell larger servings.
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