Nothing says Christmas like the indulgence of a spiced coffee or a festively fruity hot chocolate. Starbucks and Costa are the titans of the high-street coffee set and they both offer a range of seasonal drinks.
To answer the ultimate question three tasters sampled five drinks from each shop… these were our caffeine and sugar muddled thoughts.
Starbucks Gingerbread Frappe – vs – Costa Lindt Hot Chocolate
We started off by tantalising our taste buds with the only cold drink of our collection, the Starbucks Gingerbread Frappe. We had plenty more to go and it was going to be a long coffee session but this was a decent start. It was a a nice cold Christmas drink, strong with cinnamon.
We did think it was ‘slightly bitter and over-spiced’ though.
Our second drink, the Costa Lindt Hot Chocolate promised to be a partnership as classic as Santa and Mrs Claus. Velvety Lindt chocolate in a Costa Christmas parcel sounds tempting. It was thick and rich, tasting more like dark than milk chocolate. However, it had its downsides as well.
‘Just hot chocolate really, a bit boring if I am honest.’
‘Makes my tongue taste like carpet.’
A good start, and we were starting to feel warmed up from the chilly weather.
Starbucks 1 – Costa 0
Starbucks Gingerbread Latte – vs – Costa Gingerbread Latte
Next up we have a gingerbread battle, to find out who has the best biscuit-themed coffee.
The Starbucks Gingerbread Latte got wildly different scores from the three of us, from 3 to 7 to 9, this does however make it one of our most popular Christmas drinks.
‘Not too much of an afterkick, but nothing special.’
‘I love it! Tastes like a fruit cake, the perfect drink to go with mince pies.’
Costa’s Gingerbread Latte was more consistently appreciated because it was sweeter and was spiked with less cinnamon.
‘This is actually really good! Sweet and tangy and the milder coffee flavour makes it more appealing for non-coffee drinkers.’
Starbucks 2 – Costa 1
Egg Nog Latte – Starbucks – vs – Honeycomb Latte – Costa
Then, disaster struck. The pleasures we expected from a line of festive lattes was crushed as we saw and smelled our next two drinks. The person at Starbucks who thought it a good idea to import an Egg Nog Latte from the United States is very strange indeed. It was disgusting, we didn’t know what Egg Nog tasted like but we ended up having to gag our way through it.
‘If I was dying of thirst in a desert, maybe I would drink it, but then again maybe not.’
‘Smells like hair cream. I am giving it a score of -2’
We all breathed a sigh of relief because none of the other drinks or anything else we would face in our lives could be as bad as that. We were wrong. The next drink was an innocent Costa Honeycomb Latte. It actually smelt really good until we went in for the taste, which was sickly sweet and matched the unusually radioactive colour. This is not a seasonal drink; it is seasoned only with misery.
‘I can’t tell if this is sweetcorn soup or chicken tikka latte!?
‘Those globules of oil on top scream heart disease’
A point for Costa, but no winners here.
Starbucks 2 – Costa 2
Starbucks – Toffee Nut Hot Chocolate – vs – Costa – Black Forest Hot Chocolate
The prospect of fruit and toffee cheered us up with more hope after our taste buds had been burnt off in this horrifying challenge.
Thankfully, the Starbucks Toffee Nut Hot Chocolate was a delight. All three of us gave it a solid and respectable eight. It is really delicious and made us all deliriously happy after our experience so far. It has a strong toffee flavour and was deliciously nutty
‘It tastes like Crunchy Nut cereal!’
On a sugar high, we devoured the toffee nut and then moved on to Costa’s fruity Black Forest Hot Chocolate. This was a controversial one, that we either loved or hated. The cherry gave it a nice aroma and it was very fruity.
‘I would buy this again, even getting some hints of marshmallow!’
‘I disagree. It’s bad in looks, aroma and taste – so bad at everything. It also looks like chicken fat.’
Starbucks 3 – Costa 2
Starbucks – Fudge Hot Chocolate – vs – Costa – Orange Hot Chocolate
Our final Starbucks vs Costa showdown had us salivating in anticipation. Fudge vs orange, the clash of the Christmas century
The Starbucks fudge was the most beautiful of the drinks, topped with glittering caramel shavings on a pillowy bed of cream.
‘This is not just a drink, it’s a full-blown dessert.’
‘This makes me fall back in love with Christmas.’
Costa finished well too, since fruity is their style this season. Whilst it didn’t look great, it tasted like a Terry’s Chocolate Orange.
‘Bit of a fake flavour, like a 50p Ikea hotdog, with a bit of an oily aftertaste. But its cheap, cheerful and exactly what Christmas is all about.’
Starbucks 4 – Costa 2
After the giddy excitement of ten sugar stuffed drinks, we decided our winners. Starbucks won overall with four points to Costa’s respectable two. Miles ahead in first place was the Toffee Nut Hot Chocolate from Starbucks, which we all loved. The Starbucks Gingerbread Latte was next, with Costa’s version a close bronze. Sadly, the Egg Nog Latte got nil points. Go try the drinks and let us know what you think. Happy Christmas!