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The Summit Pinnacle

The Student News Site of Summit High School

The Summit Pinnacle

The Student News Site of Summit High School

The Summit Pinnacle

Sip or Skip

A Review of the New Starbucks Holiday Drink Menu + Some Local Favorites

Every year, as snow starts falling and temperatures start dropping, the Starbucks line begins to grow. This winter, the highly anticipated Starbucks holiday menu was released directly after Halloween on November 2nd, featuring 6 festive drinks. This tradition is a long-standing one that began back in 1986 with the first holiday drink, the Eggnog Latte. However, the reviews of the current menu vary significantly in opinion. And while Starbucks is the epitome of consumer culture, it is also undeniably delicious—especially to teens who can only consume coffee if it has at least 150 grams of sugar. So, below are my—and other Summit students’—takes on these festive drinks, ranked from worst to best.


Iced Sugar Cookie Almond Milk Latte (4/10)

This controversial drink is returning for its third holiday season, loved by few and hated by many. It features sugar cookie flavored syrup, mixed with Starbucks Blonde Espresso and almond milk, topped with red and green sprinkles. And to sum it up, this cavity-inducing drink is just about as nauseating as it sounds!

“I hate the Sugar Cookie Latte and I feel like it’s been offered on the menu forever,” said Summit sophomore and Starbucks connoisseur Adeline Bennett. “It gives me a stomach ache and they should get rid of it.”

If you do decide to order this, I recommend getting it iced and in a small size as, surprise, it’s very sweet. However, if you tend to enjoy more sugary treats and would prefer a dessert-like coffee, this drink might be just right for you! It blends the nuttiness of the almond milk with the vanilla flavor well, making it more bearable.

Nevertheless, contradicting the common consensus, some students did enjoy this drink.

“The sugar cookie latte was super good and you could taste the sugar cookie in it,” said Summit freshman Nolie Crawley. “It left a unique taste.”

Chestnut Praline Latte and Caramel Brulée Latte (6.5/10)

If you can’t tell the difference between these two pictures, you wouldn’t be shocked to learn that the same goes for the nearly identical taste of the drinks. Both are made with Starbucks’ signature Espresso Roast and steamed milk, the only differences are essentially the toppings. The Chestnut Praline Latte features caramelized chestnuts, whipped cream and spiced praline crumbs, while the Caramel Brulée Latte is made with a thick caramel brulée sauce, topped with whipped cream and more caramel brulée bits. This is essentially a fancy way of saying one is supposedly more caramel flavored, and the other chestnut.

Yet upon tasting both of them, I could barely tell the difference. The suppressed foodie in me could sense a slightly more depth and nuttiness in the Chestnut Praline Latte, but nothing worth getting excited over. Both of these drinks essentially taste like any other Starbucks coffee with caramel in the title. While they’re not necessarily bad, I’m just not personally a fan of the richness of the caramel.

Unsurprisingly, they’re both quite sweet so I wouldn’t recommend making it your daily, go-to drink unless you want to lose all your teeth! But, on occasion, these are good holiday options!

Peppermint Mocha (8/10)

Nothing screams the holiday season more than chocolate and peppermint, and this is a classic that you can’t go wrong with! Starring Starbucks’ signature Espresso Roast mixed with steamed milk, mocha sauce,peppermint-flavored syrup and topped with whipped cream and dark chocolate, this drink is a long-standing favorite. It balances all the flavors well, not feeling too sweet or minty, and its rich and comforting flavor feels like a subtle step up from ordering a hot chocolate!

This is the ultimate holiday drink, and with every sip, you can envision being curled up near a fireplace. I don’t have any complaints about this drink, I just feel like it’s not as original as the rest of the drinks on the menu.

Oleato Gingerbread Oatmilk Latte (9/10)

This new addition to the menu features Starbucks’ Blonde Espresso incorporated with notes of gingerbread and velvety oat milk, dusted off with bright ginger and citrus flavors and infused with Partanna extra virginolive oil. Yes. We’re putting olive oil in coffee now.

Inspired by a common Mediterranean custom of taking a spoonful of olive oil every morning to improve digestion, Howard Shultz, former Starbucks interim chief executive officer, decided to combine his morning coffee with this new ritual. He discovered that this combination allegedly creates a velvety, buttery flavor that “lingers beautifully on the palate.”

Going into trying this drink I was honestly not that excited. Who wants to hear that they’re going to be drinking oil, it doesn’t sound pleasant at all, but I was happily surprised when the Oleato Gingerbread Oatmilk Latte ended up being one of my favorites!

The gingerbread taste is so, so good and it’s understated enough that the coffee flavor comes through while simultaneously adding something extra! It is genuinely one of the most well-balanced Starbucks drinks I’ve ever tried and I can envision anyone from teens to adults enjoying it.

“I definitely would recommend the Gingerbread Latte. It’s not too overbearing and very yummy!” said Nina Daenzer, a Summit sophomore.

Iced Gingerbread Oatmilk Chai (10/10)

Reigning atop the selection is, of course, the new Gingerbread Oatmilk Chai! It blends the comforting essence of gingerbread with an infusion of chai spices and creamy oat milk to create an impeccably balanced iced holiday beverage.

Similar to the Gingerbread Latte, this drink’s flavor profile is very complementary and the sweet molasses taste makes it feel rich without being overpowering. It’s one of the better chai’s I’ve tried, finding a good balance between sweet and spicy.

“For the people who don’t like the taste of coffee I would recommend the Iced Gingerbread Chai, it’s probably my favorite Starbucks drink of all time,” Crawley said.

Local Alternatives:

Starbucks can be a polarizing topic, especially recently as they’ve expressed their support favoring Israel in the ongoing conflict, so here are some local holiday alternatives you could also try out!


This beloved, local-run coffee shop has three locations in Bend, two of them being near Summit, so this is a great option for students on their way to school or during lunch! Thump offers a wide selection of drinks, but my favorite festive one by far is the Peppermint Mocha! It’s a dupe for the Starbucks one and is a tasty substitute. I would also recommend any of their flavored lattes if you’re looking for something not too sweet or too bitter!

Sparrow Bakery:

Located in North West Crossing, Sparrow offers an assortment of baked goods as well as a variety of drinks. I especially love their Cardamom Latte, and while this isn’t explicitly a holiday drink, it gives the same energy. Especially paired with an ocean roll, this combo is to die for!

Looney Bean:

Located downtown, Looney Bean is an adorable coffee roastery that is the epitome of local! If the laid-back, hippie vibes don’t already imply their coffee is good, let me solidify that thought. Their Gingerbread Latte is addictive and while I may be biased as gingerbread seems to be my new favorite coffee flavor, you should try it for yourself! But, if you’re not a coffee person, I would strongly recommend their hot chocolate, as it’s not too watery or overpowering.


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About the Contributor
Fiona Cooper
Fiona Cooper, Staff Writer

When she isn’t rotting in her bed munching on snacks, Fiona can often be found creating a to-do list of things that will never get done! She enjoys listening to music and nibbling on a chocolate croissant from Thump with an iced chai in hand. Fiona loves telling overly dramatic stories to her friends, watching stupid sitcoms and hating on spiders. She’s a first-time staff writer here at the Pinnacle and is looking forward to expanding her writing repertoire.

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