My bank account is begging me not to do it, and I can see my friends shaking their heads in despair as I return, clutching my purchase: Costa Christmas specials have arrived! I might think twice about spending the extortionate sum of £3.85 on actual real-life University essentials like avocado and quinoa, however, on a Costa Christmas hot chocolate (my favourite is the billionaire’s one – it is divine), I will happily tap my debit card in one quick excitable gesture with no afterthought for my financial situation.
This year Costa have really outdone themselves with the variety of choices, with one being able to choose a billionaire’s, mint, black forest OR Lindt hot chocolate! The Christmas menu is equally as exciting for coffee lovers, with the options of a gingerbread latte (complete with the cutest gingerbread man you ever did see), a honeycomb latte and a salted caramel cappuccino. I think I speak for everyone when I say that the Costa Christmas specials are the perfect drinks to get in the Christmas spirit, because what would Christmas be without gorging yourself on calorific products and spending excessive money on unnecessary items?!
Natalie Keffler, News Editor
Starbucks is quite privileged when it comes to its Christmas menu: everyone is excited to see what they’ll do next with their iconic cups. I personally love this year’s intricate doodles, and to go with it, their upgraded gingerbread latte. Starbucks has intensified this classic sweet and spicy flavour with gingerbread whipped cream and biscuit sprinkles in a power move that makes theirs a strong contender for the best one around.
The moreish fudge hot chocolate has also been given an upgrade with golden chocolate curls, whilst the toffee nut and eggnog lattes remain as classic as ever. Eggnog’s subtle spice will make someone who doesnt like the real thing feel festive.
My personal standout however is the festive cold brew. It seems counter intuitive to be drinking something iced when it’s cold outside, but the addition of winter spices, cranberries, and orange peel makes it taste as if it’s been mulled! It’s a lighter and more refreshing companion to the other Christmas drinks, which you can get over ice too if you’re feeling a bit warm under your layers!
With the onset of the festive season, cafés capitalise on the opportunity to sell us hot drinks at exorbitant prices; somehow the prospect of a new flavour leads us to forget about the price tag. In our bid to try that ‘must-have’ latte, we throw caution to the wind for a small taste of a different syrup that you wouldn’t think twice about any other time of year.
Rising to the challenge of the competitive festive hot drink market, our very own Comida should not be forgotten. At a far more affordable price, you have the option of a black forest or mint hot chocolate, as well as the prospect of an eggnog or gingerbread latte.I would recommend Comida for those looking for a novelty hot drink which doesn’t break the bank.
Presented with these choices, I decided to try their Black Forest hot chocolate. For just £1 more than their regular hot chocolates, you are presented with a comforting cup of sweetness, studded with generous-sized marshmallows in a pillow of whipped cream, all topped with a flake. Admittedly, however, this was a bit of sugar overload: any cherry-chocolate flavour was swamped by the amount of cream and marshmallows flooding your taste buds.
Clara de Montfort
Pret have a wide selection of food, snacks, and drinks to choose from in their Christmas selection. My personal favourite is the Pret Christmas lunch sandwich, with turkey breast, pork and herb stuffing, crispy onions, baby spinach and a sweet cranberry sauce, all held within the sliced malted bread. This is an ideal option for a lunch on campus as it is nice and filling – I would thoroughly recommend! There is also an alternative veggie Christmas lunch sandwich, a festive winter salad, and a ham hock, stuffing & apple baguette which all look equally tasty!
The sweet options are also very tempting, with a cute melting gingerbread snowman called Melvin catching my attention, finished with icing and a marshmallow-head. Other options include the Christmas muffin, Christmas tiffin, and mince pie.
Finally, there is a lovely selection of hot drinks, including a mint mocha, mint hot chocolate, and festive flat white. The gingerbread snowman goes very well with the festive flat white. This Christmassy coffee has a shot of mince pie syrup, making it taste like Christmas in a cup.
The AMT coffee stand seems to be one of the most popular spots for students to spend their student loans on festive coffees and cakes. As the extensive queues in the past week show, Exeter loves the AMT festive menu. Whilst it can take quite a while to actually reach the front, it is definitely worth it for what lies in store.
AMT have covered all bases by having a coffee, tea and hot chocolate festive drink. The range includes a Butterscotch Latte, Cinnamon tea, a gingerbread flat white and macaron hot chocolate, all perfect for the cold walk home from campus. If you’re looking for something stereotypically festive, the gingerbread flat white is my number one recommendation to try, mixing a strong coffee with lots of spices and flavour. There are also some festive food options, with my favourite definitely being the mince pies. Unfortunately AMT is on the pricier side of the coffee chains in the Forum, but if you have somehow managed to avoid being broke at this point in the term, you can go absolutely wild.
Daphne Bugler, Online Features Editor
Waterstones Roman Gate
Waterstones Roman Gate has just been refurbished, and looks all the more wonderful for it. With an warm and friendly café upstairs, clearly the best way to indulge in a festive beverage is whilst cosily surrounded by the endless temptations of a bookshop.
First up is the honeycomb hot chocolate (£2.95): honeycomb-flavoured, and served with marshmallows, honeycomb pieces (which turn delightfully fudgy), and cream. Our second contender, the toasted marshmallow hot chocolate, quite literally tastes like liquid marshmallow: topped with marshmallows, cream, and little crispy chocolate spheres that bring back childhood memories of Műller Corners. This is the resounding highlight of this menu – lovers of marshmallows (i.e. humans, with taste buds) will adore it. Our final festive friend from the chocolate family is the Hasslacher’s hot chocolate (£3). This is one for the more bitter amongst us, made with 100% cocoa chocolate – a welcome break from the perpetually sweet festive trends.
Other more caffeinated options include gingerbread and salted caramel lattes; my advice, however, is to settle down with a good book and the toasted marshmallow hot chocolate – what could be more festive?
Graham Moore, Deputy Editor