Ranking five cafes in the greater Los Angeles area

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Leia Gluckman staff writer

Emma Newman staff writer

Holiday drinks are a staple during the winter season. Every coffee shop sells a variety of fun, winter and holiday drinks and many small coffee places offer sugary beverages as well. 

With many name brands offering similar options, it’s hard to know which cafe offers the best choices. Below is a ranking of five coffee and tea restaurants to help you find your perfect wintery beverage. 

Nordstrom’s Ebar:

Ambiance: 0.5/2 

Rushed, sleek and corporate, Nordstrom’s Ebar is a decent option for anyone looking to grab a warm drink while in a rush. Though a small cafe, the outdoor seating makes the cafe seem more spacious and welcoming. While the layout is appropriate for a mall setting and a day of shopping, the professional feel of the cafe itself isn’t ideal if you’re looking to spend some time sitting down and enjoying your drink. All in all, the Ebar gives off a very New York-esque, urban vibe. For an LA coffee shop, the Nordstrom’s Ebar is far too small, crowded and loud.

Creativity: ½ 

The  cafe, which was not as limited as some other options,  has roughly 10 holiday drinks with classic winter flavors on its menu.  With no stand-out items, the Ebar has a generic, uncreative, but somewhat lengthy list of options. Despite its unimpressive options,  the Ebar still offers enough drinks to satisfy people with a wide range of palette preferences. 

Drink Quality: 4/6

Nordstrom’s Ebar drinks definitely impress with their strong holiday flavors, and it proves that with its focus on the wintery side of its drinks. However, its mocha mint latte is hardly the ideal choice in terms of quality. While it definitely is strong in peppermint, the entire mocha base is diluted by the sheer amount of peppermint flavoring, whipped cream and milk. This made it seem more like a children’s drink than anything of high quality. In contrast, the cafe’s eggnog latte was the perfect blend of eggnog and coffee, which made both tastes prominent and equally delicious. 

Total: 5.5/10

Price Point: $$

Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

Ambiance: 1.5/2

Warm, welcoming, and full of nice people, the North Beverly Drive Coffee Bean location is extremely cozy. There are large leather chairs, couches and fireplaces on either side of the cafe. While it resembled a stereotypical cafe, the lack of holiday decorations was apparent. Coffee Bean, being relatively spacious and uncrowded, is the perfect environment for people looking to have a real conversation without loud interruptions. 

Creativity: 1.5/2

Similar to Starbucks, Coffee Bean offers a wide variety of holiday drink options. Featuring flavors like cookie butter, peppermint, red velvet, caramel and spices, the selection is truly inclusive. If you’re looking for a less traditional holiday drink, Coffee Bean has several menu items that would put you into a festive mood. 

Drink Quality: 2/6

Although listed as their most popular option, the cookie butter latte is bland.  With a waxy texture and artificial cookie smell and taste, the drink may best be described as a “candle” latte. It isn’t necessarily bad in its flavor; it is merely an authentic representation of a cookie butter scented candle. With completely different flavor notes, their peppermint mocha is more of a peppermint milk. It doesn’t taste like coffee at all and has slightly more peppermint than Peet’s peppermint-less mocha. Neither drink tasted particularly appealing and the only lingering flavor was liquified candle wax.

Total 5.5/10

Price Point: $$

Peet’s Coffee: 

Ambiance: 2/2 

Peet’s is what a coffee shop should be: warm, comfortable and casual. Its open feel creates a welcoming environment for anyone who walks in. The wait staff is both efficient and friendly. More importantly, it sticks with the holiday theme with its decorative Christmas tree and a cheerful vibe. 

Creativity: 1.5/2

Peet’s wide variety of holiday drinks are perfect for anyone who wants to be put in the holiday spirit. From pumpkin spice lattes to peppermint mochas, there was about every typical holiday drink available in the book. Sure, none of the options are particularly special, but the sheer number of choices makes up for the lack of authenticity. 

Drink Quality: 3/6

With their traditional options and decent flavors, Peet’s holiday drinks are unexceptional compared to other similar drink options. The most popular drink option, the Holiday Spice Latte, is tasty but generic in terms of flavors. Although its spices make for a heart-warming holiday treat, it doesn’t have any stand-out flavors or unique attributes. Their peppermint mocha, while tasty, is completely misleading. Instead of tasting like a blend between chocolate, mint and coffee, it tastes more like plain hot chocolate with a barely noticeable of peppermint. Ultimately, Peet’s is fine in terms of its holiday drinks, but certainly not the best. 

Price Point: $$

Overall Score: 6/10

Starbucks

Ambiance: ½

Starbucks has the most generic atmosphere imaginable, as shown by the similar layout of every location. The Beverly Drive location is open and welcoming, but small in size and often crowded. While the Starbucks workers are usually friendly, the drinks often take a decent amount of time to arrive. Also, even though the menu is currently holiday-oriented, the restaurant itself does not exude “holiday cheer.”

Creativity: 2/2

If your goal is to find practically every holiday drink on the planet, then Starbucks is the place for you. Whether it is a generic pumpkin spice latte or an out-of-the-ordinary chestnut praline latte, there’s an appealing drink for everyone. To make the list even more extensive,  almost every item comes in both iced, hot or frappuccino form. 

Drink quality:

Most people who have been to Starbucks knows that their quality almost never disappoints. Their peppermint mocha is a nice blend of wintery mint, rich chocolate and coffee, although its level of sweetness is a bit overwhelming. One of their most popular drinks, the chestnut praline latte, is perfectly sweetened and delicious. However, it is a bit misleading, as there is only a hint of praline or chestnut. At the end of the day, both drinks hit the right notes in terms of quality. 

Price Point: $$

Overall Score: 8/10

Urth Caffe:

Ambiance: 1.5/2

With a line that usually spills out the door and onto the street, Urth is a crowded and loud place. The drinks came relatively quickly and looked amazing. The perfect whipped cream swirl on each of the drinks added to the overall aesthetic of Urth. The stylistic choices made on the drinks paired perfectly with the wire-backed chairs and soft color palate of the interior gave off Despite having very few seasonal drink options on the menu, Urth offers a unique a French-Cafe vibe that was well-executed.

Creativity: 1/2

Despite having very few seasonal drink options on the menu, Urth does offer a unique pumpkin pie latte in lieu of the traditional pumpkin spice latte. However, aside from the pumpkin pie latte, the only other holiday drink offered on Urth’s menu is the peppermint mocha leaving customers with extremely limited options. Counteracting this, the French decor and cafe environment was far nicer than any of the other cafes visited.

Drink Quality: 5.5/6

When it came to their mocha mint, the peppermint taste  was truly noticeable. The drink was more minty than mocha, serving as a “welcome to winter” slap in the face that is enjoyable for any mint lover. Exploring a contrasting flavor palate while tasting like a liquified pumpkin, Urth’s pumpkin pie latte was authentic in flavor and texture. The whipped cream with a cinnamon/ graham cracker topping creates an ideal pie crust flavor. With their creamy textures, both drinks scream holiday and provide a perfect winter flavor.

Price Point: $$$

Overall Score: 8/10

 

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