It’s been years since I’ve voluntarily been in a Starbucks. I guess you could call it a conflict of interest. On the one hand, I do have a bit of that snobby hippie attitude that thinks Starbucks is evil and corporate and I’d rather support a mom ‘n’ pop coffee shop. Also, they are overpriced as hell and I’m fine with making my own coffee at home and drinking it black. On the other hand, I have to admit, I’m amenable to the occasional fancy fru-fru latte or Frappucino. Fortunately, price always wins out over taste, so I don’t have to worry about any moral conundrums.
However, when I heard about their “Buy One Holiday Drink, Get One Free” promotion, I thought, hey, what the heck. While Starbucks’s website only seems to acknowledge Peppermint Mocha, Caramel Brulée Latte and Gingerbread Latte as their Holiday Drinks, my local Starbucks also offered Peppermint White Hot Chocolate, Eggnog Latte, and a few other peppermint-related drinks that I can’t remember. I picked up the eggnog and gingerbread lattes because I was pretty sure I’d know how the peppermint offerings would taste like. Peppermint. I thought the eggnog and gingerbread lattes might be more interesting. I also didn’t realize they are 11 and 25 years old, respectively. But hey, they’re new to me! So now you have to deal with it.
In addition to getting one of my lattes for free, I also got a free sample of Starbucks Gingerbread Loaf! So hey, I threw it in the mix. Why not. Get into the holiday spirit.
According to Starbucks, “This wildly popular interpretation of holiday eggnog layers rich espresso with subtle spices, the perfect choice for chilly mornings or cozy afternoons.”
Apparently I was supposed to get whipped cream with a touch of nutmeg. This did not happen. That’s okay though, because the coffee was still tasty. I love me some eggnog during the holiday season. Not too much eggnog though, because that shit is rich. Starbucks definitely nailed the eggnog flavor, but didn’t make it so overpowering that I couldn’t finish the cup. There were also some nice subtle touches of nutmeg and cinnamon. It also still had a nice coffee finish. I couldn’t really tell what those little flecks were that you see on top, but it might have been nutmeg? Maybe?
Starbucks sez: “With the flavor of freshly baked gingerbread, this beverage combines espresso, gingerbread flavored syrup and steamed milk, topped by whipped cream and ground nutmeg.”
Apparently I was supposed to get whipped cream with a touch of nutmeg. This did not happen. Again. I really should have looked at Starbucks’s website before I went. Then I would have known to ask for the works. Oh well! The gingerbread latte was creamy and very smooth. It also had a deeper flavor than the Eggnog Latte; I could really taste the cinnamon and a bit of molasses. Even though it was smoother, it also managed to be richer than the eggnog, and I found myself liking that more.
I was surprised that I liked the Gingerbread Latte better than the Eggnog Latte. If you were to ask me which flavor I like better in general, I would always pick eggnog over gingerbread. In this case, however, the spices and flavors of the gingerbread really came through more, and the texture was smoother and creamier. On the other hand, you could actually taste the coffee in the Eggnog Latte, whereas it was nothing but sweetness and gingerbread flavor in the Gingerbread Latte. So I guess it actually depends on what I’m looking for: if all I want is a warm drink that makes me think of Christmas morning, I’d go with the Gingerbread Latte. If I want a cup of coffee that also makes me get warm holiday fuzzies, I’d go with the Eggnog Latte. After drinking both the lattes, I feel like Starbucks can keep their whipped cream. Both beverages were sweet enough and held their own just fine.
I wasn’t expecting to review this, but hey, there was a whole tray of Gingerbread Loaf samples in front of my face as I placed my order, and how could I say no to free food?
I’ve never had Starbucks Gingerbread Loaf before. I was afraid it would be dry, since the samples were just sitting out in the open air, but that little motherfucker was moist. You know I’m serious when I not only use the word “moist”, but I italicize it. Moist is one of the grossest words ever.
But seriously, this shit was crazy good. The cake was fluffy and incredibly…sigh…moist, and the flavors were spot-on. You could really taste the ginger, the cinnamon, and all those other flavors that make gingerbread yummy. And the frosting! I am generally not fond of frosting, since it’s usually too sweet for my palate, but I’ve always loved cream cheese frosting, and Starbucks makes some damn good frosting. Or buys some damn good frosting. Whatever. My sample piece also had a little orange thingie on top of the frosting. I have no idea what it was, but it was also tasty. Maybe candied ginger?
The texture and the flavor of the loaf combined with the deliciousness of the frosting made Starbucks Gingerbread Loaf an awesome snack. I wish I’d yelled “FIRE!” in the middle of the store, distracted everyone, and run out with the whole tray. Only problem is, the loaf is so rich that I probably would have only been able to eat three of them before I reached my richness threshold. Eating two bites of loaf and drinking 24 ounces of lattes made my stomach unhappy with the amount of sugar I’d ingested in one sitting. It was worth it, though, because I was not disappointed by any of the Starbucks offerings.
I’m still too proletariat, both financially and philosophically, to become a slave to Starbucks. But as the weather cools down and Christmas decorations fill me with holiday cheer instead of rage at how early they’ve appeared, I might stop by a Starbucks and pick up a holiday latte and a slice of Gingerbread Loaf. After all, isn’t Christmas all about spending inappropriate amounts of money?
- Score: 4 out of 5 sugar plums for all three holiday goodies
- Price: $3.65 for the whole lot
- Size: 2 “tall” lattes (12 oz. each); one sample-sized loaf
- Purchased at: Starbucks #6955
- Nutritional Quirks: Some straight up facts – both lattes combined bring to your body 560 calories, 65% daily value of saturated fat, 68 grams of sugar, and 150 milligrams of caffeine. I’m sure the Gingerbread Loaf is also a shining example of health food! Holiday weight gain be damned!