The holiday season is finally here, which means stores are stacking their shelves with everything peppermint. Peppermint is served in a variety of ways, from candy canes to peppermint bark, but the best kind of holiday peppermint — by far, in my opinion, after trying one (or actually, four) for the first time — is the classic peppermint mocha. A few weeks ago, I made an excursion out of peppermint mochas and drove all over Pasadena trying them. Here’s what I found.
Starbucks ($4.65 for a tall)
Starbucks was the very first stop on my adventure to find four different peppermint mochas. I pulled into the drive-thru and waited to place my order and pay. After the barista passed me my drink, the first sip was even better than I thought it would be. As someone who had never had a peppermint mocha before, I was so surprised at the taste. It reminded me of a Girl Scout Thin Mint cookie. The taste was chocolatey and even had extra chocolate on the bottom. It was smooth on the tongue and something I would definitely get again.
Dunkin’ Donuts ($3.99 for a small)
Dunkin’ was the second stop. Once I got ahold of the peppermint mocha, I took a sip. This drink was not as good as the Starbucks one. In comparison, this peppermint mocha tasted a lot more like coffee, unlike Starbucks’ hot chocolate-tasting drink. There were also fewer hints of peppermint than the Starbucks one. Overall, I would be hesitant to get this one again, especially if I am looking for something sweet and pepperminty. When craving a peppermint mocha, I want a drink that’s more like candy rather than coffee, and Dunkin’ Donuts didn’t hit the spot.
McDonald’s ($2 for a small)
The third stop was McDonald’s Cafe. I went to the nearest McDonald’s I could find. Pulling into the drive-thru, I noticed the seasonal peppermint mocha displayed on a large banner. Once I reached the speaker to order, I asked if I could have one small peppermint mocha, to which the worker informed me that there wasn’t a peppermint mocha on the menu, despite the menu saying there was right in front of me. Even though this would be my third mocha of the afternoon, and I was nowhere near thirsty, I was still frustrated. I drove off and decided to try one more McDonald’s, and this second location had the drink. Once I got it in my hands, I took a tasty sip and was surprised at how good it was, even though it was the cheapest one. This was definitely better than the Dunkin’ Donuts peppermint mocha but not as good as the one at Starbucks. It still tasted more like coffee than chocolate, but it tasted more like peppermint than the other two drinks I’d tried. Overall, I would definitely get this drink again in a pinch.
Coffee Bean ($3.50)
Last, but not least, I went to the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, and the peppermint mocha there tasted almost like Christmas. It was hot, milky and most importantly, pepperminty. This, by far, was my favorite drink. Every element of the drink worked, from the amount of peppermint to the smooth and milky texture to the dollop of whip that topped it all off. It was a great way to wrap up this two-hour journey from cafe to cafe. I had found the perfect drink to go home and get cozy with.
Throughout his adventure to acquire peppermint mochas from different cafes, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and the experience. It was the perfect transition to the holiday season from Thanksgiving and put me in the Christmas spirit. Even though I was stuffed from the four drinks, I still could have gone for another.