Just incase that it was never quite 100% clear, I have an unhealthy addiction and obsession with coffee and coffee related beverages. To me there’s no greater place of comfort than my favourite coffee shop, with a hot drink of my choice between hands, enjoying the “mood” lighting, the familiar faces, and the warm atmosphere. With my adoration for this fine beverage, I have become a bit of a coffee snob so-to-speak. And with great caffeinated snobiness, comes great responsibility – responsibility to shove my views on what makes a good caffeinated beverage onto my readers. I must bear this burden alone, for I am the chosen one.
Hmm, sounds like I’m becoming a cross between Spider-Man, Frodo Baggins, and Neo. So an emo, short, dull person? That’s not a good combination…
Anyways, with this great burden that I must bear alone for I am the chosen one, I will determine which place of caffeine serves the greatest beverage – and something so important can only be determined in a great battle – TO THE DEATH!
Well, not literally to the death. I don’t really know how one would go about “killing” coffee, or how different drinks would literally fight. That would just be weird.
This time of year, many coffee shops begin selling special holiday drinks. It happens around different times of the year, but with Christmas coming, there is usually a large list of drinks that are only served for a short time. In the spirit of the season, I shall judge two different holiday drinks from three different coffee shops. Because my location, I’ve decided to choose Starbucks, Second Cup and William’s Fresh Cafe (formerly William’s Coffee Pub) for the first installment of this epic holiday battle.
So without further delay, let us begin Coffee Wars!
For the first part of the Holiday Edition of Coffee Wars, I shall be judging three different Gingerbread Lattes, which are by far my favourite of any special holiday drink around. I will be basing my judgements on these parameters: balance of flavour, appearance, overall enjoyment.
The first beverage I will be judging will be the first gingerbread latte I had of the season, which was from William’s Fresh Cafe.
This is a large gingerbread latte from William’s Fresh Cafe, and as you can clearly see, the mug is the size of a soup bowl. So an avid coffee and hot beverage drinker like myself will be pleased with the serving size of this drink. I have to say, William’s has been hit and miss with me for the past few years. I used to come to this spot with my friends a lot more when I was in highschool, but ever since I’ve been living back in Burlington, I haven’t been as impressed with this place overall like I used to be. With that in mind, I was skeptical to even order something that was over the $2 price range, because I didn’t think it would be worth my money. That being said, I was very satisfied with this drink, and part of that may be because my expectations were so low to begin with.
The William’s gingerbread latte is very sweet – and it is served with an abundance of whipped cream and a crap-load of cinnamon on top. On certain occasions, this is a good thing for me, and if you have a sweet tooth or want dessert, this is great. However, I don’t have a large sweet tooth, so I found this drink to be a little overwhelming. It wasn’t intolerable, but it wasn’t necessarily spectacular either. By the time I got passed the whipped cream, the espresso and milk were luke warm, and to me, that defeats the purpose of a drink like this. I want it to be at least somewhat warm when I drink it. As for appearance, it was served nicely, I always love getting my caffeinated beverages in a china mug, it makes me feel like I’m on the show Friends, sitting in Central Perk. The whipped cream was pipped nice enough, a little lazily, but I don’t expect rosettes on top of my latte either. As I said earlier, there was a lot of whipped cream, and because of this, it kind of overflowed the drink a little – that mixed with less than careful carrying of my beverage by the server caused it to kind of spill and topple over the edge. I’m not really picky, I just don’t like my hands sticking to the mug. Yes, I’m one of those people who likes to hold their drink in both hands, I say “fuck you” to the handle.
Appearance – 3.5/5
Flavour Balance – 3/5
Overall Enjoyment – 3/5
Second Cup’s Gingerbread Latte
Second Cup is definitely one of my favourite places to get a coffee, so because of that I’ll try really hard not to be biased. This was the second gingerbread latte I got this season. What I enjoy about this gingerbread latte is that it has a nice gingery flavour, and is just sweet enough, but I can actually taste the espresso. I don’t put too much sugar in my coffee, so I like getting this one often because it’s “fancy” enough that it makes me feel special, but it is not too “fancy” that it tries to win me over with extreme amounts of sugar.
There isn’t any whipped cream on this latte, but for anyone who really wants it, it can be added easily enough. What I enjoy about Second Cup’s gingerbread latte too is that there is a sugar topping that you can add-on top that is a mixture of cinnamon, sugar and ginger – but it’s a very light type of flavour, and really tastes like a gingerbread cookie. In the image to the left I actually added my own nutmeg to the top, because I felt like it damnit. I think one of my only complaints of this drink is that sometimes it feels a bit heavy, and that may just be the milk that is being used, because I don’t always ask for skim milk because I forget or I just don’t care. I found it to be heavier than William’s and Starbucks’ latte, and that may be because of the foam. I am always pleased with how this drink looks, it is always well presented and well prepared, so I have no complaints. Sometimes they forget to add the topping, but it’s right there at the counter so I can add it if I want it myself.
Appearance – 4/5
Flavour Balance – 5/5
Overall Enjoyment – 4/5
Starbucks Gingerbread Latte
Ah Starbucks, sometimes I love you, sometimes I can’t stand you. Again, another place that is very hit and miss with me. I think it all really has to do with location. The one at my work I really enjoy because I know the people very well, however, the one at the mall nearby I don’t like much because it’s always so busy and it just ruins the atmosphere. Despite these facts, I still enjoy the occasional Starbucks drink from time to time.
As you can see the Starbucks near my work doesn’t often serve their drinks in a mug, which I suppose goes for most Starbucks, but the one at work has less space and I wouldn’t expect them to offer this type of service as much. I don’t really hold it against them though, their paper cups are always very nicely decorated and they change them frequently, which I think is nice. I always think that Starbucks has nice looking drinks, they really know how to prepare them in a delicious looking way. What really surprised me when I had this drink is that I think it’s actually sweeter than the William’s gingerbread latte. It probably has to do with the number of gingerbread sweetener pumps they add to the drink, but I found it a little overbearing. One thing I love about drinking any type of coffee-like drink is tasting the coffee. I could barely taste the coffee in this drink. However, it did taste the most like a gingerbread cookie out of all the drinks. This is definitely something I would get in the smallest size, and probably after I’ve had dinner, it’s really the most “dessert-like” of all the lattes. I found that even though there was whipped cream on the drink, when I finally got down to the latte, it was still decently warm. Maybe Starbucks heats their milk longer, or William’s is slow at delivering their drinks.
Appearance – 5/5
Flavour Balance – 3/5
Overall Enjoyment – 3.5/5
After looking over all my scores for these drinks, I’ve decided to make the victor of this edition of Coffee Wars to Second Cup.
It had the best balance of flavours, and overall it’s the drink I find the most enjoyable out of the three. I have to say it was a hard decision because they are all so friggen tasty, but out of all of them, Second Cup is the only one I’ll keep buying. It is just sweet enough to be special, but it is regular enough to not be off-putting. If you enjoy disgustingly sweet beverages like some people I know *coughRyancough*, then the other ones may be more to your liking, they are tasty after all. But if you’re looking for something a little different from your normal cup of coffee, the gingerbread latte is a nice alternative that will make you feel like you are getting a treat, without ruining your appetite for the rest of the day.
I hope you enjoyed the first rendition of Coffee Wars, check the coming soon page to see when Part Two will be going up!