10 International Starbucks Holiday Drinks That Will Make You Want To Book A Flight ASAP
So, hey, remember when the internet discovered that the Starbucks holiday drink menu in Europe includes a Salted Caramel Brownie Hot Chocolate, thereby causing everyone to lose every ounce of chill they had ever had? Well, get ready to have your over-caffeinated brain blown all over again, because I’m about to introduce to all of the other international Starbucks holiday drinks you had no idea you were missing. I mean, sure, I love a good Peppermint Mocha as much as the next seasonally enthusiastic coffee lover — but even that holiday juggernaut pales in comparison to some of the things you can get elsewhere in the world.
Brace yourselves. We’re going on an adventure.
We’ve probably got the Peppermint Mocha to thank for the influx of limited edition seasonal beverages that take over Starbucks stores every winter; as Starbucks lore tells it, the success of the Peppermint Mocha during the 2002-3 holiday season paved the way for the development of virtually every other seasonal hit the company has put out since — including fall’s Pumpkin Spice Latte. But what’s really fascinating is seeing how that success has been replicated through adaptation in other markets. What works in the United States might not work in Asia; what works in Asia might not work in Europe; what works in Europe might not work in Latin America; and so on and so forth. So, rather than just churning out the same drinks everywhere in the world, each market offers its own takes on limited edition menus inspired by the flavors those particular geographic areas associate with the seasons in question. Neat, right?
We’ve already covered the Salted Caramel Brownie Hot Chocolate and the Christmas Brulee Latte, so we’ll bypass those two drinks this time round; for more on them, head here. Read on for all sorts of other treats you can only get in specific areas of the world:
1. Snowball Dark Mocha
The Snowball Dark Mocha can be made as a Frappuccino, a hot drink, or an iced drink. As a Frapp, it starts with a dark chocolate mocha Frappuccino base, blends in java chips and vanilla, and tops off the whole thing with espresso-infused whipped cream and crunchy rice puffs.
2. Snowy Cheese Latte
3. Snowy Cranberry Latte and Cranberry White Mocha
It’s not totally clear to me whether these two drinks are the same drink or whether they’re just very closely related; judging from their descriptions, though, they definitely share DNA. The Starbucks Malaysia site describes the Snowy Cranberry Latte as “a beverage that pairs the signature Starbucks espresso with velvety steamed milk and toasted white chocolate sauce, topped with snow-like whipped cream and tart cranberry sugar for a festive finish”; meanwhile, the Cranberry White Mocha available in Latin American markets is made of “Starbucks signature espresso … combined with freshly steamed milk and luscious white chocolate, then topped with whipped cream, a tart cranberry drizzle and crystallized cranberry sugar.”
4. Christmas Strawberry Cake Milk
Available in: Japan.
Only about one percent of Japan’s population is Christian; even so, though, Christmas is a popular holiday, and Christmas cake — a fluffy sponge cake filled with strawberries and topped with clouds of cream — is a beloved treat. Accordingly, this year’s Starbucks Japan holiday beverage takes its cues from Christmas cake: Steamed milk, strawberry compote, and white mocha syrup come together to make a dessert-like drink topped off with whipped cream, strawberry topping, and crushed biscuits. You can also get it as a Frappuccino.
Strawberry Christmas cake, by the way, is more than just tasty; it’s also historically significant. NPR published a brief history of Japanese Christmas cake in 2014, which I highly recommend checking out. Find it here.
5. Speculoos Latte
Available in: Asian Pacific markets.
Also referred to as a Caramel Cinnamon Cookie Latte, the Speculoos Latte is inspired by speculoos cookies — the stuff dreams and cookie butter are made of. Carmel flavors and spices kick Starbucks’ espresso up a notch; steamed milk adds a creamy touch; and whipped cream, a caramel drizzle, and spice cookie crumbles finish the whole thing off.
6. Flat White With Cinnamon Spices
Available in: Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
Remember the Holiday Spice Flat White? This drink — which definitely lacks the intense sweetness for which most of Starbucks’ other holiday offerings are known — is similar. Cardamom, vanilla, and cinnamon spice dress up the espresso, while cinnamon spice sugar gets steamed in with the milk before it's poured on top. You can also order this one as a latte if you prefer.
7 Juniper Latte
Available in: Canada.
I’m not sure I’d ever get the Juniper Latte for myself, but it does sound interesting all the same: Juniper syrup apparently gives the espresso and steamed milk a “light, pine-like flavor” with “citrus undertones,” according to Starbucks Canada’s description of the drink. It’s dusted with pine-citrus sugar.
8. Christmas Dessert Latte
Available in: China.
British Christmas pudding has always reminded me of fruit cake, so I assume that’s what this latte tastes like (although I could always be wrong). The steamed milk and espresso get their unique flavor profile from the inclusion of “Christmas pudding flavored sauce” (whatever that is — maybe a sort of fruity, nutty, brandied kind of thing?); it’s then topped with whipped cream, a caramel drizzle, and “mixed fruit sprinkle.”
9. Duo Cocoa Mocha
Available in: Asian Pacific markets.
The Duo Cocoa Mocha, which is available hot, iced, or as a Frappuccino, wins the award for Most Spectacular Presentation. The Two-Face of the holiday beverage world, it’s made of dark and white chocolate and espresso — and the whipped cream on top is drizzled with mocha sauce on one side and sprinkled with cocoa nibs on the other. Wowzers.
10. Hazelnut Mocha
Available in: Argentina and Uruguay.
While perhaps not the showiest drink on the list, this one — this one — is the one that made me yell, “WHY DON’T WE HAVE THAT HERE????” I cannot overstate how much I love hazelnut as a flavor, particularly when mixed with chocolate; the combination of espresso, bittersweet chocolate, hazelnut, and steamed milk sounds, therefore, like my idea of heaven. It’s topped with whipped cream and a mocha drizzle — and you can get it hot, iced, or as a Frapp.
Yes to all of that.
If you've got a few minutes to kill, I highly recommend poking around the main Starbucks site selector; it acts as a gateway to every single official Starbucks site, which in turn opens up literally an entire world of international treats, sweets, and eats, both seasonal and permanent. Roasted Nut Cardamon Lattes in India! Hazelnut Macchiatos in Vietnam! "Joyful Medley" tea in Japan!
Obviously I want them all.
So, uh... BRB. Booking flights to everywhere in the world. See you... later. Much, much later.