Starbucks won the holiday season before December even began when it debuted its Holiday Spice Flat White on Nov. 30, introducing the world to its latest limited time-only seasonal red cup beverage. But what's in the Starbucks Holiday Spice Flat White, exactly, and how does it compare to the other holiday drinks your holiday cheer has come to rely on when the weather gets cold? The Flat White isn't quite as sweet as, say, a classic Peppermint Mocha, or a toasty Gingerbread Latte, but for true coffee lovers, it is an experience that shouldn't be missed.
Don't get me wrong — I'm a huge fan of classic holiday flavors like eggnog and caramel brulee, and was thrilled to find out the Starbucks Chestnut Praline Latte would be returning to stores for a second year. But when I'm in the mood for a drink that is more espresso-focused, the Holiday Spice Flat White is my go-to this season. That's because the new beverage features rich ristretto shots of Christmas Blend Espresso Roast mixed with a luxurious microfoam, and while there are definitely hints of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, they're subtle enough to let the coffee really shine through. In other words, this is the perfect holiday caffeine fix.
Of course, people who aren't familiar with the concept of a Flat White (it's a drink popular in Australia and New Zealand) might still have a few questions, so let's break down this new red cup drink even further. Here's everything that goes into making a Holiday Spice Flat White:
1. Ristretto shots
You know all about espresso, but what the heck is a ristretto shot? Think of it as an extra concentrated espresso shot. It's made with the same amount of coffee as a regular espresso shot, but less water, making it a caffeine lover's best friend.
A Flat White sort of resembles a cappuccino, in that its star players are espresso and steamed milk. The Flat White's "microfoam" is slightly dryer than what you would find in a regular cap, though.
3. Holiday Spice
The Holiday Spice Flat White is the drink red cup holiday beverage dreams are made of because of the special mix of — duh — holiday spices. Ground sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove, and tangerine sugar blend together to give this drink its festive cheer. It's subtle, but delicious.
This is an espresso-based drink, so yes, you better believe this drink comes with caffeine — about 195mg in a grande, for those counting. By comparison, there are approximately 310mg in a grande cup of Pike's Place Roast, so while this isn't the most caffeinated drink on Starbucks' menu, it still has just enough to give you the pick-me-up you need.
I don't need to tell you that the beauty of Starbucks is that you can get your drinks customized however you want, so feel free to experiment with this one a little bit. With red cups, you can't really go wrong.