Culture

We Tried Every Starbucks Drink Off The Winter Menu—Here’s How We Ranked Them, From Worst To Best

By Anna Hartman
·  6 min read
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Is it even the holiday season if you haven’t indulged in an overpriced, festive Starbucks latte yet?

Even if you’re a practical queen and you brew your coffee at home every morning, you can probably still admit that there’s something about treating yourself to a sugary latte from time to time. It’s basically a right of passage at this point that upon entering into the fall and winter seasons you have a warm, cozy beverage that reflects that. Call us basic, but when the holiday menu drops at Starbucks each year, it’s a day of celebration. That first sip you take of your decadent peppermint mocha dressed in a Christmasy red cup (dropping today, btw!) practically requires you to reminisce on the old days of ice skating under twinkle lights and picking out your perfect pine tree

One thing that inevitably happens each year though is that upon the winter menu dropping, we enter into a state of overwhelm. Am I feeling minty today? Maybe a nutty, rich flavor would make me happy? Or perhaps caramel would make me feel festive? Unless you drink Starbucks on the reg, you’re likely limiting yourself to one special concoction here and there, and who wants to waste those precious calories and dollar bills on something they hate? Not us, that’s for sure. 

So, this year we put our heads (and taste buds) together as a team and tried the six seasonal holiday drinks available on the winter Starbucks menu to come to a consensus on which are worth the splurge. We even created a free tasting template for you to download and print below so you can rank these with your family and friends! Pro tip: It’s a great activity to do over the Thanksgiving holiday to take Auntie Karen’s focus off your empty ring finger, and to replace alcohol with caffeine (at least early in the day) so things don’t get out of hand as they sometimes do. 

Without further ado, here are the 2022 Starbucks holiday drinks – ranked from worst to best.

Iced Sugar Cookie Almondmilk Latte

Rating: 1/6

150 calories, 25g sugar, 3.5g fat

Let’s start with the Iced Sugar Cookie Almondmilk Latte — the least favorite on our list. Although this one does have the lowest sugar and calorie content, it also tastes like it does. This latte tastes like a cheap, artificial-version of something you once loved. It also has more of a nutty undertone than a yummy, Christmas cookie flavor so that threw us off a bit. And while the red and green sprinkles they add on top may look cute at first glance, they eventually make their way to the bottom of your cup and turn the last few sips into a gritty, overly sweet concoction you nearly have to choke down.

Take it from us, if you’re going to indulge, indulge in something worth the splurge. If not, opt for a black coffee and call it a day. 

Caramel Brulee

Rating: 2/6

410 calories, 48g sugar, 14g fat

Next up to be roasted is the caramel brulee latte. Get ready to go into a full sugar coma with this one. Even from our taste-testers who are obsessed with everything caramel-flavored, it only got an “okay” review. There was nothing offensive about it, but nothing that wowed our taste buds either. For $6 and over 400 calories (and probably a 30 minute wait in line), you’d expect to be a bit more excited about treating yourself to a festive drink. 

Irish Cream Cold Brew

Rating: 3/6 

200 calories, 24g sugar, 11g fat

Starbucks’ cold brew with Irish cream syrup, vanilla sweet cream cold foam, and a touch of cocoa, unfortunately this concoction was just “good.” It’s a unique holiday twist on a cold brew and not too sweet with a hint of true Irish cream. Certainly better than the Iced Sugar Cookie Almondmilk Latte if you’re searching for a refreshing coffee on one of those in between days where it’s not quite chilly enough to bundle up and sing Christmas tunes yet. If we’re being totally honest though, we’d prefer a coffee with Bailey’s if we’re gonna go this route. 

Toasted White Mocha

Rating: 4/6 

420 calories, 55g sugar, 15g fat

With a cozy toasted marshmallow aroma, the smell alone of this one will draw you in. Surprisingly not too sweet and not overly chocolatey like a traditional mocha, we’d order the Toasted White Mocha again. You can taste the caramelization of the toasted syrup which gives it that extra boost of bougie that bumped it up on our list to earn the number 3 spot. 

Chestnut Praline Latte

Rating: 5/6 

330 calories, 38g sugar, 14g fat

While this one and the peppermint mocha are definitely more personal taste-wise than the rest of the drinks on this menu, they are also our top picks (and the most popular among Starbucks consumers). 

If you’re a fan of nutty, rich flavors, and your go-to order is generally a hot vanilla latte, then this is the drink for you. It’s as close to a traditional latte as you’re going to get on the holiday menu, and it has the perfect amount of warming spices to make you instantly feel cozy inside. We could drink this semi-sweet coffee year-round without question. 

Peppermint Mocha

Rating: 6/6 

440 calories, 54g sugar, 16g fat

For those who aren’t crazy about a buttery, nutty flavor though, the peppermint mocha may just be your solution. Ranking number one on our list, the peppermint mocha reigns supreme because of its festive, refreshing taste. The decadent, chocolate flavor is pure nostalgia and takes us right back to sipping hot cocoa at the kitchen counter after coming inside from playing in the snow as kids. Being the highest calorie drink on the list, this treat is more like a dessert than a daily cup of joe on your way to work. However, as long as you’re a fan of mint, we highly recommend grabbing a peppermint mocha (at least once) this winter to fully indulge in the Christmas spirit. 

Starbucks tasting

Closing Thoughts

Depending on which flavors you typically gravitate toward and how sweet you like your coffee, there’s something for everyone on this list. So, what will you be ordering off the Starbucks menu this Christmas season? 

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