10 Starbucks Holiday Specials That'll Keep Us Warm This Winter (And 10 Items Nobody Drinks)

This year, the cold knocked abruptly on our doors earlier than usual and has frozen people’s conversations. All we hear, whether it’s at work, at home, in class, or simply at the bus station is, “Can you believe it’s already winter? Where did November go? I didn’t see the leaves fall and change colours!” And so, what do people usually do when they want to escape the -25°C weather? They hide in coffee shops, and one of them is Starbucks. Even though the early snowflakes did affect many people and their happiness, it didn’t affect Starbucks’ holiday season schedule.

As a matter of fact, like every year, as soon as Halloween ends and fall has blown the coloured leaves off of their trees, the coffee shop with the queen-of-all-mermaids logo brought back its most festive drinks to warm us up all on time for what seems to be like a rigorous winter. Maybe sweet drinks aren’t for you, but that’s ok because Starbucks got you covered: it has something for all tastes and fluctuating moods. Plus, who said you have to stick to the most popular drinks of the most wonderful time of the year?

In recent years, Starbucks came up with new holiday drinks that you might not have heard of yet. There is also the coffee shop’s secret menu that everyone talks about, but no one dares to try. Here’s a list of ten probably familiar drinks that will keep you warm this winter, and ten others no one really drinks, but that should be given a chance. On a side note, most of these drinks have vegan alternatives, so no one's left out!

20 Keeps Us Warm: Peppermint Mocha Latte

via hercampus.com

The classic Starbucks holiday drink that doesn’t fail to make people’s mouths happy since 2002: a little bit of espresso to not only keep you warm, but also awake, a little bit of steamed milk mixed with some mocha sauce, and to top it off, a little bit of (flavoured, not real) peppermint syrup. It’s the perfect hot drink for those who are not ready to fill their stomachs right away with too much sugar. They want to start the holidays slowly sinking, as people start buying gifts or decorating their homes. You can however totally “customize” it by choosing to add some whip cream with a sprinkle of good-looking dark chocolate curls. Although this drink is available during the entire year, it’s not something you would drink on a hot day of July.

19 Nobody Drinks: Holly Jolly Latte

via starbuckssecretmenu.net

It’s probably a drink you didn’t even know existed because it’s part the coffee shop’s secret menu. If you’re the adventurous type, who likes to try new things, go ahead and order it. Before you try it, please note that this drink is basically an eggnog chai latte, with again some peppermint syrup and no water. All these ingredients mixed together do not sound like a good match, but more of a very heavy drink, especially if you decide to complete it with whip cream. Plus, the smell might not be as Holly Jolly as Starbucks could think it is.

18 Keeps Us Warm: Caramel Brûlée Latte


It’s the dessert-inspired type of drink that Starbucks likes to invent and this one has already seduced many of us. If you feel like just drinking and not having anything to eat, then this drink is perfect because you don’t need any type of cookie to compliment it. You got your drink and dessert in one (large) cup. It’s not just a hot drink for caramel lovers even though there’s a double dose of caramel (sauce and topping on whip cream). The espresso and steamed milk tone the sweet aspect down, so that your tongue may enjoy a balanced drink.

17 Nobody Drinks: Gingerbread Eggnog Chai Latte

via mindovermunch.com

This is a drink that can be considered as a less “extra” version of the Holly Jolly Latte. Yes, it is another eggnog chai latte, but this time, Starbucks adds a little spice to it as the syrup is gingerbread-flavoured. First, gingerbread cookies were never meant to be drank. Second, don’t let the FOMO get to you as there are other drinks worthy of having you spend your money, but if your heart insists, try this drink when you’re alone: you wouldn’t want to tickle your friends’ nostrils for more than thirty minutes and ruin your quality time away from the cold.

16 Keeps Us Warm: Salted Caramel Mocha Latte


Caramel lovers are very fortunate to have two special holiday drinks just for them! And this one shouldn’t disappoint at all. This underrated latte, which is another dessert in the form of a drink, should even be better than the Caramel brûlée, especially for those who are not really fans of sugar. It has all the basic, but perfect ingredients of a balanced hot drink: coffee, mocha, toffee nut, salt, and of course, caramel. If you like the Pumpkin Spice latte of the fall season, you will surely like this one as it’s considered to be Christmas’ version of October’s most famous drink.

15 Nobody Drinks: Hot Chocolate Classic

via starbucks.ca

During the holidays, hot chocolate is usually what people prefer to drink, whether they’re children or adults, because it’s a simple, sweet, hot drink. The drink consisting of some hot water and delicious cacao (or steamed milk and cacao) is not the drink people will buy during Christmas time when going to Starbucks. No one goes to this coffee shop asking for a hot chocolate knowing its strange prices. People want to try something something new and different, not something they could find at Dunkin' Donuts, or do so easily at home. It’s safe to say it’s overrated.

14 Keeps Us Warm: Chestnut Praline Latte


This latte is younger than many drinks on this list. This one was “launched” in 2014 and could bring you a heart attack if you knew how many grams of sugar it contains: 39! It’s still worth a try: just like most of the other drinks on this list, the Chestnut Praline is a mix espresso and steamed milk with “pieces” of caramelized chestnuts and spices. And again, nothing tastes perfectly good without the whip cream. Plus, the whip cream on this one is slightly different: it’s sprinkled with sweet praline crumbs. All the things to satisfy your mouth, but not necessarily your heart.

13 Nobody Drinks: Eggnog Latte


In Christmas traditions, Canadians love to buy eggnog and turn it into an alcoholic drink. It probably helps digest all the food on the table, but other than that it’s not a very popular drink. It’s at least not the first drink you see when you look up to Starbucks’ menu as soon as you get inside the coffee shop. However, according to Starbucks, this latte is supposedly a “perennial holiday favourite.” It might be hard to believe, knowing that, as mentioned earlier, the steamed eggnog has a strong odour. Not only that, but to complete this hot drink, “a dusting ground of nutmeg” replaces the whip cream. It is like drinking eggnog and tasting a tree at the same time. 

12 Keeps Us Warm: Gingerbread Latte

via Starbucks.com

Put the chai and eggnog on the side and you have a pure gingerbread latte. It follows the same recipe as the drinks previously mentioned in this list: a mix of espresso and steamed milk, but the finishing top is a nutmeg whip cream, which is a better match than with the eggnog. Unlike some of the other holiday drinks, such as the Peppermint Mocha Latte or the Eggnog Latte, this one is only available during the holiday season and not all year-round. So hurry up before all the gingerbread spices get out of stock!

11 Nobody Drinks: Holiday Spice Flat White

via today.com

Whether it’s a holiday special or not, a flat white drink just seems plain ordinary. The difference between an ordinary flat white and a holiday one is the several holiday spices added to the latter. It’s perhaps the least sweet drink on the list and could appeal to some of us with its shots of espresso and foamy milk as the topping, although it surprisingly contains 30 grams of sugar. You still need to match it with a cookie to tone the spices down. At least, it will keep you awake for the whole day. Plus, the signature circle on top is quite interesting...

10 Keeps Us Warm: Cinnamon Dolce Latte


Like its name suggests, this latte is a little spicy, but it's sweet and soft thanks to its steamed milk mixed with the cinnamon dolce syrup. This latte beats the record for the number of sugar in it: 41 grams (including the cinnamon dolce topping)! It seems like it contains more sugar than most desserts. You therefore don't need to buy a cookie to accompany the drink, it's an all-in-one hot drink. Nonetheless, Starbucks is known to make things sweeter, and any sweet thing at Starbucks is usually good. It's the kind of coffee you should take in the morning to burn the 340 calories (yikes!) later during the day and to digest it properly. It's probably unhealthy, but who cares? You got to treat yourself during the holidays, don't you?

9 Nobody Drinks: Juniper Latte

via vogue.com

What is a juniper, you wonder? A small tree with berrylike cones. People haven't been trying this one like crazy because this is a 2018 release, but it's worth a try. This time, the coffee shop masterminds weren't inspired by food or desserts, but Christmas decorations. This is probably the reason why people aren't really into it: the strange thing about the Juniper Latte is that it tastes like a Christmas tree. And the ingredients to create this Christmas tree are the classic espresso and steamed milk with a pump of juniper syrup. Let's not forget the citrus touch!

8 Keeps Us Warm: Caffe Misto


Caffè Misto literally means "mixed coffee". It's an international coffee drink, but not very popular in North America, or not necessarily something that people would consider as different because it's simply coffee with milk. Plus the fact that it's part of the secret menu doesn't help. Yes, it's much more ordinary than the Holiday Spice Flat White latte, or even the classic hot chocolate, but you sometimes need a little bit of ordinary during the holidays. As a coffee drink, it's not your typical morning coffee, so it still counts as something different, and this coffee is very vegan friendly: just swipe the dairy milk for coconut or soy milk. That makes it a little sweeter without adding any sugar.

7 Nobody Drinks: Toasted White Chocolate Mocha


White chocolate isn't necessarily most people's choice. Maybe that's why you haven' heard about the Toasted White Chocolate Mocha that consists of a mocha sauce dipped in espresso, that is then mixed with the steamed milk. According to BusinessInsider.com, it's "like a candy in a cup." It's one thing to drink cookies and desserts, but drinking candy is another. With 56 grams of sugar, including the cranberry sugar decorating the whip cream, it will only fill your stomach and make you feel bad, but not warm you up. It's more of a heavy drink than a comforting one.

6 Keeps Us Warm: Toffee Nut Latte


Want a drink with some nice aroma to satisfy your nostrils? Try the Toffee Nut Latte with its smell of roasted nuts. Everything about the ingredients of this drink is different (well, according to Starbucks it is): the espresso is smooth, the milk is not just steamed but has a velvety touch to it, and the toffee has a sweet and buttery flavour to it. Let's not forget the usual whip cream sprinkled with pieces of toffee nuts.

5 Nobody Drinks: Peppermint Hot Chocolate


That's another people's favourite. It's another alternative for those who don't really enjoy, or for children (better not give them too much coffee during the holidays, you won't get enough sleep). There are really no other differences between this drink and the first one on the list. It still keeps the whip cream sprinkled with dark chocolate curls and peppermint syrup. It also contains a little more sugar than its sibling: 61 grams compared to 54 grams for the Peppermint Mocha. It's up to you to choose your battles.

4 Keeps Us Warm: Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate


Why have a different version of a drink that is already successful the way it is? Probably for the children (again). Mocha is more of an adult's drink, but might not be to the liking of children. It's nonetheless an ignored drink as there are better options on the menu for the holidays. The hot chocolate will just make things sweeter than necessary. If you have a very sweet tooth and aren't a kid, then why not try it if you feel like you've ran out of options.

3 Nobody Drinks: Teavana Peach Tranquility Brewed Tea

via teavana.com

With its mix of chamomile and peach, citrus and floral tones, it's not a festive drink at all. It's more like the type of hot drink you'll force yourself to get when you're feeling sick. Nonetheless, this tea still beats the cold. It's also a popular summer iced tea, and just like the Passion Tango, you can buy tea bags from Starbucks to drink it at home because it really is a drink for you to just tuck yourself in bed and relax.

2 Keeps Us Warm: Teavana Passion Tango Brewed Tea

via Starbucks.com

Who said you can only drink holiday specials to keep you warm this winter? No one. If you're not a coffee fan, but still want something sweet, the Passion Tango Brewed tea from Teavana is for you. It's mostly popular during the summer as it's people's favourite refresher as iced tea, especially with its papaya, mango, and citrus lemongrass flavours. It's however just as good during the winter. Also, you can get tea bags at the coffee shop and then make them at home, or at work, if you're not in the mood to stay in line just for a one-time tea. These bags of teas are now available in Canada and in the United States at any Starbucks location. 

1 Nobody Drinks: Any Holiday Frappuccino


Who drinks something cold when it's freezing outside? It's too bad that some of these holiday frappuccinos are only available during Christmas time because they do look much more delicious than their hot versions. If, once again, you're an adventurer and don't mind the cold, then try some of these iced drinks. Some of the most popular ones include the Caramel Brulée Cream Frappuccino and the Chestnut Praline Cream Frappuccino (both with or without extra cream, other than the topping whip cream). There is also a fun drink that some people like to try: the Christmas Tree Frappuccino, which is mocha and peppermint blended with milk, and a matcha whip cream.

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