TheStreet Staff Writer Veronika Bondarenko tested a returning holiday treat at the well-loved coffee chain.
When Starbucks (SBUX) - Get Starbucks Corporation Report unveiled its holiday menu at the start of November, many were anxiously waiting to see whether a sugary festive drink that debuted last year would see a second season.
The Iced Sugar Cookie Almond Milk Latte is, as the name implies, a combination of a Starbucks Blonde Espresso and almond milk. A dash of sugar cookie syrup and a topping of red and green sprinkles are meant to recreate the baked treat that multiple generations grew up associating with the holidays.
The drink, which was also the first non-dairy drink on Starbucks' holiday menu, became an instant online hit in 2021 -- many started posting pictures of themselves lining up to get one while one Twitter user wrote that it tastes like "winter and happiness."
That is a pretty tall order so TheStreet decided to test whether the holiday drink truly lives up to its internet virality. As someone who regularly covers the latest developments in the fast-food industry, I dropped by a nearby Starbucks store to try one.
Can You Really Have A Sugar Cookie In Drink Form?
Let's start with the basics -- I am not a coffee drinker. It is an acquired taste that I never acquired and, as such, even a hint of coffee in a drink makes the entire thing taste bitter to me. Coffee-flavored ice cream is the only exception.
TheStreet's Managing Editor Daniel Kline and I have previously tested the Chocolate Cream Cold Brew and he thought it to be a delicious, if indulgent beverage while my very adult critique was "take the foam and leave the coffee."
But the challenge to find a coffee drink for the coffee non-drinker continues! The iced beverage was a good one to try given that the East Coast is currently in the midst of a November heat wave. For someone who has never lived in Florida or anywhere else that does not experience the four seasons, there is nothing quite like having a holiday-themed drink in 70-degree weather.
While my red-and-white sprinkles sank into the drink and did not provide that Instagrammable oomph that many buying this type of latte may be hoping for, I found it to be a very decent treat -- the vanilla and almond hit all those seasonal notes while the ice keeps it refreshing instead of overly heavy.
Red Cups And Holiday Cheer Without The Coffee
As with other Starbucks drinks, one can customize it to have more or fewer pumps of either the sugar cookie syrup or coffee. But if enjoyed as intended, the shot of espresso is overpowered by the "cookie" flavor and makes it taste more like a dessert treat than a coffee drink.
One more option, during the holiday season, for those who want in on that red cup cheer (metaphorically, since the iced version is served in a plastic one) and overall coffee shop culture without actually drinking coffee.
Other options on this year's holiday menu include desserts like the Reindeer Cake Pop and Cranberry Bliss Bar and some of the mocha lattes that, due to the high amounts of sugar and chocolate, can overpower the bitter taste that turns a small segment of the population off of coffee.ice cream milk cream desserts non-dairy