Holiday Drinks: Starbucks vs. Dunkin’

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Photo/ starbucks.com

Cate Stanton, Staff Writer

It is that time of year again. The time when businesses constantly advertise their limited-time holiday merchandise. Many coffee drinkers would agree that this is the best time of the year because of the seasonal drinks from Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts. The two popular coffee companies release similar holiday drinks; in fact, both of them have a peppermint mocha latte. I decided to order three specialty lattes from Starbucks and three from Dunkin’ and see what company serves the best holiday drinks. At Starbucks, I ordered an Iced Peppermint Mocha Latte, an Iced Chestnut Praline Latte and a Hot Toasted White Chocolate Mocha Latte. At Dunkin’, I ordered a Hot Signature Peppermint Mocha Latte, a Hot Chai Oatmilk Latte and an Iced Signature Gingerbread Latte.

Iced Peppermint Mocha Latte (Starbucks)

The Peppermint Mocha Latte has been a Starbucks holiday drink since 2002: one of the longest specialty lattes they have on the menu. It consists of Starbucks’ signature espresso with steamed milk, sweet mocha sauce and peppermint-flavored syrup. For an extra sweet sensation, they top it off with whipped cream and dark chocolate curls. This latte is definitely on the sweeter side and if you tend to drink stronger coffee, I would recommend getting less mocha sauce in it. The mocha sauce slightly overpowered the espresso and peppermint syrup in the drink, but it was still a delicious drink.

Iced Chestnut Praline Latte (Starbucks)

The Chestnut Praline Latte is a mixture of espresso and steamed milk along with flavors of caramelized chestnuts and spices. It is topped with whipped cream and spiced praline crumbs. To my surprise, this was my favorite drink out of all the lattes I ordered from both places. The latte was not overpowered with flavors, but also not too plain for my liking. The spiced praline crumbs on the top added a sweet crunch to the drink and I could taste hints of chestnuts with every sip. It was a perfect mixture of all the ingredients within the drink and I would recommend ordering it if you are thinking of trying a new drink.

Hot Toasted White Chocolate Mocha Latte (Starbucks)

Caramelized white chocolate mocha sauce is combined with espresso and steamed milk to make this delicious specialty latte. I ordered this latte hot instead of iced, which was a good idea because it tasted similar to the Chestnut Praline Latte that I ordered as iced. This drink is topped with whipped cream, holiday sugar sparkles and crispy white pearls. The sugar sparkles and pearls melted into the hot latte and gave off an extra sweetness to the drink. I could taste hints of white chocolate mocha in the drink, but again it was not too much. This would be a great drink to order as a hot latte on a cold winter day.

Hot Signature Peppermint Mocha Latte (Dunkin)

Photo/ dunkindonuts.com

The Signature Peppermint Mocha Latte is a mix of peppermint and mocha flavoring and topped with whipped cream, mocha drizzle and hot chocolate powder. This was my favorite latte from Dunkin’ and I think it was better than the Starbucks Peppermint Mocha Latte. The hints of peppermint and mocha were not overwhelming; it was the perfect balance. The mocha drizzle, whipped cream and hot chocolate powder melted into the hot latte, creating a warm and comforting drink for the holidays.

Hot Chai Oatmilk Latte (Dunkin)

The Chai Oatmilk Latte is an option for non-dairy or tea drinkers as it combines a sweetened chai tea blend featuring a mix of spices, including cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg with oatmilk. This was my least favorite drink I tried because I do not usually drink tea and it gave off strong hints of green tea. I would recommend swapping the oatmilk out for regular milk because it tasted more watery than creamy. If you drink tea regularly and enjoy chai, I would recommend trying this drink because it was not too strong, and there was a good balance of chai and oatmilk.

Iced Signature Gingerbread Latte (Dunkin)

The Signature Gingerbread Latte consists of a warm taste of gingerbread flavor topped with whipped cream, caramel drizzle and cinnamon sugar. I enjoyed this drink because it was different from all of the other specialty lattes I tried. The gingerbread was a bit overwhelming for me and I would recommend requesting fewer pumps of the gingerbread flavoring if you try it. The cinnamon sugar and caramel drizzle was perfect on top because it gave a sweet crunch to the drink, as well as another flavoring to balance out the gingerbread. This is definitely a sweeter drink, similar to the Peppermint Mocha Latte from Starbucks.

Overall, I would give Starbucks the win for seasonal drinks. The flavoring of Starbucks’ drinks were stronger and more balanced compared to Dunkin’s drinks. There were also more holiday drinks to choose from on the Starbucks menu, so there would be an option for everyone. I tended to like the Starbucks drinks more than the Dunkin’ drinks except for the Peppermint Mocha Latte being an obvious win for Dunkin’ because the flavors were not too overpowering. I was very surprised with the amount of drinks I enjoyed that I normally would not order, and I definitely recommend trying a few before the end of the holiday season!