Spilling the tea (or eggnog latte) on the Xmas drinks from Cardiff’s main coffee chains

Costa and Starbucks brought us a range of festive treats this year but only one can be the best

Now that winter has arrived with a vengeance, there’s really not much that will tempt us out of our beds in the morning and force us to brave the icy winds before our lectures other than a really comforting hot drink. This is even more the case now that Costa and Starbucks have brought out a deluxe range of delightful (and not so delightful) winter warmers in Cardiff. So we ranked which of these hot drinks are the best, in our humble opinion.

Costa – Terry’s Chocolate Orange Hot Chocolate

Let’s begin on a really positive note, shall we, with an unmistakably Christmassy drink. Nobody can deny that Christmas simply wouldn’t be the same without everybody’s favourite citrusy-chocolatey treat at the top of your stocking, and Costa’s creative collaboration with Terry’s does it justice. It’s sweet and flavourful, with that distinctive orange flavour really coming through, but not too much. It’s blissful. Imagine you’re drinking a melted chocolate orange and you’re halfway there, only this is creamier, lighter and doesn’t leave you feeling sick after indulging. A very strong start from Costa.

Starbucks – Eggnog Latte

For some reason, eggnog never really seemed to take off in the U.K. compared to North America, and this latte makes us feel rather sad about that. It’s really rather lovely. This is a creamy, unique drink with subtle hints of nutmeg and cinnamon, and we deem it a rather clever success. It’s certainly a very tasty drink to sip while studying at the Arts & Social Library. Perhaps we’ll consider forgiving Starbucks for writing off the godly Maple Latte now.

Costa – Gingerbread Hot Chocolate

Now this is a personal favourite of ours. The gingerbread hot chocolate is available all year round, but in many ways this is arguably the best of Costa’s menu. For starters, unlike the other seasonal drinks, this is available in a large size (which is a venti if you only speak Starbucks.) Secondly, the sweet but not overpowering flavour of gingerbread combined with the rich hot chocolate is a guaranteed comfort in the windy, wintery weeks of December. It feels a little like a warm hug. We’re such fans, the baristas have started to recognise us when we come in.

Plus: Why not try Costa’s ultra tasty Gingerbread Santa or the seasonal shortbread? They taste incredibly nostalgic, a little like biscuits we used to get at lunchtime in school. Sure, they’re a little pricey, but a wonderful pairing with your drink. Go on, it’s Christmas.

Starbucks – Gingerbread Latte

We’ll be honest with you. It smelled amazing. It looked amazing, especially in that beautiful festive cup. Sadly, the taste did not match the aroma or aesthetics, as the gingerbread syrup tasted very bitter and chemically. I’m really sorry, Starbucks, but this disappointed us greatly. Two or three sips were all I could manage.

Costa – Gingerbread Latte

Please be reassured, this is the last mention of gingerbread in this article. Sadly, we’re not having much luck with gingerbread lattes this year, as while the gingerbread syrup had the usual sweet, delicate flavour we’re used to from Costa’s Gingerbread Hot Chocolate, the coffee was rather watery, which ruined the drink. Shall we go back to hot chocolates? They seemed to have more success.

Costa – Toblerone Hot Chocolate

Oh boy, now this was clever. Who doesn’t love a Toblerone? An indulgent taste of Switzerland, a country of master chocolatiers, neatly wrapped up in a rather nice triangular-prism. And now, you can have a Toblerone-flavoured hot choc. This was very rich indeed. If you crave a chocolatey, sweet satisfaction, this is your drink. If you need something a little lighter, perhaps go for gingerbread or chocolate orange instead. It’s a brilliant drink, and you even get an adorable mini Toblerone with it, but it’s certainly very rich.

Starbucks – Toffee Nut Latte

Another very rich was Starbucks’ Toffee Nut Latte, and while we weren’t enormous fans of this, that may just have been because we’re not particularly fond of overly sweet drinks. It is, unmistakably, a very Christmassy drink, and you can always ask your barista to reduce the amount of syrup in your cup. We usually opt for a nice, simple Vanilla latte at Starbucks, but maybe we’re just unadventurous.

Greggs – Mint Mocha

Now that you’ve seen plenty of beautiful beverages to choose from at the top two coffee shop chains in Cardiff, we thought we’d include a little additional find, don’t say we don’t spoil you.

Next time you’re queuing for a sausage roll or steak bake at the Student Union’s Greggs, why not try Greggs’ extremely interesting mint mocha? We tried this with admittedly low expectations, and were pleasantly surprised. It’s quite nice, somewhat reminiscent of an Aero. It’s certainly sweet, but the chocolate and mint work surprisingly well together, and the coffee shot is a subtle pick-me-up. However, we would prefer more chocolate and less mint syrup next time though.

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