There's some debate as to when the holiday season officially starts. For some, the decorations cannot go up until Thanksgiving. For others, the holiday tunes start at the stroke of midnight after Halloween. But for many, the holiday season doesn't begin until their favorite coffee chain swaps out its pumpkin lattes for peppermint, eggnog, and gingerbread.
The advent of holiday coffee beverages is a highly anticipated annual event, spearheaded by Starbucks and its instantly recognizable red cups. However, the Seattle-based java giant is not the only coffee chain that knows a thing or two about holiday beverages. In fact, as you'll soon see, many of the nation's other major chains have worked on perfecting their seasonal menus, too.
Holiday beverages are often sugary-sweet, with plenty of syrups, whipped cream, and sprinkles to keep your dentist up at night. But, there's something about your favorite coffee shop's menu taking on a festive persona each November, often with limited-time cup designs and holiday-themed food items to match. If you're looking for a cup of holiday cheer to start your day, keep these coffee chains in mind.
With over 13,000 locations worldwide, Dunkin' is one of the largest coffee chains in the world. That doesn't mean, however, that the chain doesn't strive to offer a personalized touch to its holiday menu each year. Dunkin' has recently started including more trendy holiday drinks on its menu, but don't believe for a second that they are anything less than tasty. The massive nationwide coffee chain has come out with many favorites over the years, including the Cookie Butter Cold Brew and the Peppermint Mocha Latte.
West Coast-based coffee chain Peet's has been incorporating holiday drinks on its menu for many years, as well as offering a holiday blend for those who would prefer to roast coffee at home. Holiday drinks on Peet's menu in 2023 include its Holiday Spice Latte (hot or iced), Peppermint Mocha, and the Peppermint Mocha Black Tie.
Caribou Coffee locations can be found across the United States, though you will primarily find the chain in midwestern states like Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas. The coffee chain brings back old favorites to its holiday menu each year, along with incorporating new flavors. New holiday drinks for 2023 include the Ho Ho Mint Mocha Espresso Shaker and Vanilla Oat Nog Latte, joining a lineup that includes the classic Ho Ho Mint Mocha and Spicy Mocha drinks.
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf offers several variations of Peppermint Mocha on its holiday menu. Drinks include the classic Peppermint Mocha Latte in many forms: hot, blended with ice, or as a cold brew. If tea is more your idea of a soothing beverage, the Coffee Bean has the unique distinction of being one of the few coffee chains that includes a holiday tea on its menu. Its Winter Dream Tea Latte is made with a blend of black tea, rooibos, sweet spic, and vanilla.
Tim Hortons may be best known as a Canadian chain of coffee shops, but it has locations across the United States as well. The chain often adds unique coffee drinks to its menu, and that creativity doesn't stop for the holidays. In the 2023 season, customers can find a festive menu, which includes the Gingerbread Oat Milk Latte, Brown Butter Caramel Cold Brew, and Peppermint Mocha Iced Capp. Pair any of those drinks with an order of Peppermint Timbits, and you're immediately transported to a Canadian winter coffee wonderland.
Stumptown Coffee Roasters
If you live in Portland, New York, or Los Angeles, there's a Stumptown Coffee Roasters near your neighborhood that is worth checking out. The urban coffee chain is also known outside of those locations at grocery stores nationwide, where its beans and grounds are often available for purchase. In the cafes, its holiday menu is comprised of unique finds like the Spiced Holiday Cookie Latte and the Mint Matcha Latte. Elsewhere, keep your eyes peeled for the Evergreen Winter Blend and the Winter Cheer Cold Brew with Oatly in stores.
There is no shortage of holiday-inspired drinks on the Dutch Bros menu. In 2023, the coffee chain offered a holiday trio, including the Hazelnut Truffle Mocha, a cupcake-flavored frozen coffee drink called the Snow Cap Freeze, and an energy drink called the Merry Mischief Rebel. Holiday drinks have a tendency to be ultra-sweet, but Dutch Bros also offers its Zero Sugar Added Peppermint Bark Mocha as part of its seasonal lineup.
There are a few Philz Coffee locations in Chicago, but the vast majority are found up and down the state of California. The West Coast coffee chain brings holiday cheer each year with its Gratitude coffee blend and unique beverages on its menu. The Gratitude blend is used in its Winter Bliss, a coffee drink that mixes coffee, Ghirardelli cocoa, and spices.
Dunn Bros Coffee
Dunn Bros Coffee guarantees freshness in each sip as it is only brewed in small batches. That commitment to quality extends to its holiday menu, which includes one-of-a-kind finds like the Cookie Butter Nirvana, made with speculoos cookies with hints of butter, cinnamon, and holiday spices. In addition, Dunn Bros Coffee serves its Candy Cane Mocha and Spiced Sugar Plum Latte beverages during the holidays.
Black Rock Coffee Bar
Black Rock Coffee Bar incorporates classic holiday flavors like eggnog, gingerbread, and peppermint into its menu each November. The lineup includes the Peppermint Bark Blondie, a white chocolate peppermint bark mocha. Customers can also try the Eggnog Latte or Gingerbread Latte for quintessential holiday vibes. If you need an extra zap of energy to start your day, Black Rock Coffee Bar also serves a holly and jolly energy drink called the Sugar Plum Fuel.
The Human Bean
The Human Bean can be found across the United States, though you're more likely to come across a cafe up and down the West Coast. Like many other coffee chains, the Human Bean has gone all-out with its holiday drink options. There's the Chocolate Macadamia Dream, made with a signature rich espresso, sweet chocolate macadamia nut, and creamy oat milk. Or, customers can opt for Santa's Special, made with the Human Bean's signature mocha flavored with candied peppermint and topped with a festive cherry. For a more refreshing drink, there's the Candied Peppermint: a white chocolate peppermint flavor that can be added to any drink year-round.
With its instantly recognizable red cups, Starbucks' line of holiday beverages has an almost cult-like following that takes over social media as soon as the calendar flips to November. Long-running fan favorites include the Caramel Brulée Latte, Peppermint Mocha, and Chestnut Praline Latte. Starbucks fans have debated over what holiday flavor reigns supreme, with many taking to forums such as Reddit to have their voices heard. The coffee chain has certainly one of the most talked-about lineups of holiday beverages each season, and that trend doesn't show any signs of slowing.