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Gingerbread, Peppermint and Sugarplums: Starbucks, Dunkin' square off in the battle of holiday coffees

Alexandra Canal
·Producer
·2 min read

It’s the holiday season — which means it’s time for some ‘ho-ho-ho’-liday drinks.

Starbucks (SBUX) and Dunkin’(DNKN), known for their speciality coffee creations, often compete for the most innovative and festive offerings this time of year, a barista’s version of the vaunted chicken sandwich wars. So which caffeine giant really reigns supreme?

Yahoo Finance taste tested three limited-time items off of both the Starbucks’ and Dunkin’s menus and the winner... well, let’s just say it wasn’t immediately obvious.

For Starbucks, the chain’s Peppermint Mocha, Caramel Brulee Latte and Iced Toasted White Chocolate Mocha stepped up to the plate, and delivered. Those items directly compete with Dunkin’s Peppermint Mocha Latte, Gingerbread Latte and the new Sugarplum Macchiato, respectively.

Starbucks vs. Dunkin' holiday taste test
Starbucks vs. Dunkin' holiday taste test

When it came down to taste, Starbucks’ Peppermint Mocha reigned supreme. Clocking in at 440 calories for a grande size, the classic drink includes the coffee chain’s signature Espresso Roast, steamed milk, sweet mocha sauce and peppermint flavored syrup.

Topped with whipped cream and dark chocolate curls, this Peppermint Mocha tasted significantly richer and more refined than Dunkin’s version, which emphasized the peppermint a little too much for our liking.

Starbucks Peppermint Mocha (Credit: Starbucks)
Starbucks Peppermint Mocha (Credit: Starbucks)

Close second in the taste test was Dunkin’s Gingerbread Latte.

With not-so-subtle hints of gingerbread, marshmallow and chocolate, Dunkin’s signature latte tasted like the most perfect holiday cookie we’ve ever had.

And the speciality drink that landed on the naughty list this year? That would be a tie between Starbucks’ Caramel Brulee Latte and Dunkin’s Iced Sugarplum Macchiato.

Albeit unique, both drinks were too sweet and packed in too many strong flavors at once.

And unless you’re a (BIG) fan of blueberries, visions of sugarplums will certainly not be dancing in your head after the first sip of the latter...

Dunkin’s Sugarplum Macchiato (Credit: Dunkin')
Dunkin’s Sugarplum Macchiato (Credit: Dunkin')

Overall, both chains produced solid items with a clear vision to be the most festive drink of the season. For us, Starbucks won the battle — but price points might sway the customer’s decision when it comes to overall preference.

All three drinks at Starbucks totaled $5.25 each (excluding tax) whereas Dunkin’s hot coffees clocked in at 3.5, with the Iced Sugarplum Macchiato totaling $4.49.

Alexandra is a producer & entertainment correspondent at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alliecanal8193

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