Winter Drinks Showdown

With the holidays approaching, the scent of peppermint, gingerbread and eggnog linger through coffee shops. However enticing the smell is, it’s difficult to get a scope of the best seasonal drinks in local cafés, so two Bull’s Eye staff members sampled various seasonal beverages and rated them both on quality and price.


Starbucks 1/5

Being a go-to for anyone to grab a quick coffee, I was under the impression that Starbucks would have a fulfilling seasonal drink. With this in mind, I ordered their new iced sugar cookie almond milk latte ($5.35), yet all I got was a mouthful of disappointment.

The drink was a depressing concoction of sweeteners attempting to mask the bitter taste of a latte, with a sickening nutty aftertaste. A few sprinkles decorated the drink, but it wasn’t enough to distract from this overpriced excuse of a holiday-themed beverage. If anything, Starbucks’ new drink dampened my holiday spirit.


The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf  5/5

Although the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf may be overshadowed by larger-known corporations, their coffees do not disappoint. At this coffee shop, I ordered the ice blended peppermint mocha crumble ($5.25).

There was a satisfactory amount of refreshing peppermint—not too much to overshadow the taste of mocha, but enough to compliment the drink with a sweet burst of flavor. The crumbs layered on top of the whipped cream were a nice touch. While Coffee Bean’s ice blended mocha has been my usual drink for some time, I now find myself compelled to order the peppermint mocha during the holiday season.


The Mugs 3/5 

A local specialty shop in Diamond Bar, The Mugs offers a variety of artfully crafted beverages. At this cozy cafe, I ordered a hot pumpkin matcha latte, opting for the oat milk rather than regular milk ($6.35). 

Arriving lukewarm, the consistency of the drink was slightly runny, and the taste leaned so heavily on the  natural sweetness of oat milk and cinnamon that I had to uncap the lid to check if the drink contained matcha. While I’m still optimistic about the cafe’s other menu options, the mediocrity of this seasonal item was rather disappointing, especially considering the costly price tag. 

Panera/Cinnamon Crunch Latte 4/5 

Known for their delicious, health-conscious baked goods, Panera Bread spares no expense with their beverages either. At their Walnut location, I ordered their specialty drink for the season—the Cinnamon Crunch Latte ($4.79). 

While there was a distinct acidic taste of coffee to the beverage, I was pleased to find that there was no bitter aftertaste. Though the drink is derived from a cinnamon heavy recipe, the flavor wasn’t overpowering; rather, it balanced out the tang of coffee perfectly. The more sips I took, the more I found myself enjoying the drink, which came as a surprise, since I’ve never been a huge consumer of coffee.