HomeEntertainmentSips of the season: a local guide to holiday drinks

Sips of the season: a local guide to holiday drinks


Ah, winter in Carmel. With the arrival of the constant gray blanket of fog that coats our quaint town comes the debut of seasonal holiday drinks. As college applications come to a head and the stress of finals and the holiday season lurk around the corner, one may find solace in the cozy atmosphere of one of the local coffee shops that saturate the peninsula and blissful sips from a jovial beverage. It’s difficult for your average Joe to experience every festive flavor the peninsula has to offer, so I sought to sample some of the area’s featured wintertime drinks, focusing on festivity, taste, looks and aroma. Ultimately, my most important criteria came down to “Does it pass The Vibe Check?”

Pumpkin Spice Latte – Starbucks

Before we get into the real holiday drinks, I figured I was obligated to discuss the “PSL” phenomenon. Let me just say that this saccharine orange pumpkin paste has no business being associated with coffee. I am by no means qualified to be an expert coffee critic, but even my amateur tastebuds know that there are absolutely no beans in this syrupy gourd molasses that Starbucks has the audacity to market to the masses. The smell hits like walking into a Bath & Body Works while the taste hits like a rotting pumpkin to the face. With all of the pumpkin spice hype I expected to be transported to an autumn oasis, but instead was just left craving a water and to get my stomach pumped. Bah humbug to you, PSL.

Overall Score: 4

Vibe Check: FAILED

Starbucks’ Chestnut Praline Latte and Pumpkin Spice Latte offer a flavorful twist on classic coffee. Photo by MIA KOTELEC

Pumpkin Pie Latte – Carmel Valley Coffee Roasting Company

This drink S-L-A-P-S. If the PSL was the ugly duckling, the Pumpkin Pie Latte would be the beautiful swan into which it matured. After my bout with the PSL, I was hesitant to try another pumpkin drink, but that decadently sweet, nutmeg and pumpkin spice scent was enough to cause love at first sniff. Offering a perfectly balanced blend of bitter espresso and sugary flavor, this drink will transport you to Thanksgiving dinner with Aunt Susan’s homemade pumpkin pie while leaving you feeling that caffeinated buzz on your commute to work.

Overall Score: 9

Vibe Check: PASSED

The Pumpkin Pie Latte at Carmel Valley Coffee Roasting artfully masters the pumpkin flavor typical of the season. Photo by MIA KOTELEC

Gingerbread Man Mocha with Peppermint Whipped Cream – Carmel Coffee House

This delicate notes of sweet peppermint paired with the flavorful taste of gingerbread spice beautifully harmonizes with the mocha base to create a drink so heavenly, Mariah Carey would write a chart-topping song about it. While the accuracy of the gingerbread man flavor is up for debate, the taste is one perfectly emblematic of the holiday season that will have you guzzling down every last drop.

Overall Score: 8

Vibe Check: PASSED

The Gingerbread Man Mocha at Carmel Coffee House perfectly blends the flavors of the season. Photo by MIA KOTELEC

Eggnog Latte with Peppermint – Carmel Valley Coffee Roasting Company

Time for the drink we’ve all been waiting for! Whether you love it or you hate it, there’s no doubt that eggnog is the most iconic drink of the season. And if you’re like me and can’t seem to stomach it au naturel,but still want those same holiday vibes, then this latte is the way to go. Artfully blending notes of peppermint, espresso and eggnog, this drink has the same level of festivity as a “Now That’s What I Call Christmas!” album.

Overall Score: 8

Vibe Check: PASSED

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