Looking for cheer in holiday beverages

As I begin writing this piece, it’s Election Day in the US—finally the end of a contentious presidential campaign that feels as though it lasted for several years. Either way, and no matter the outcome, by Wednesday, although there will be relief that the election is over, there will be millions of happy Americans and just as many who are filled with anger, sadness and uncertainty. So, I’m relieved that I will be able to avoid the ensuing rancor for a few days as I’m heading to Costa Rica for Sintercafé.

After voting and before heading home to pack, I popped into one of my local coffee shops, which I hadn’t frequented in just a couple of days and it was now in full Christmas holiday-beverage mode. Gone are the autumnal promotions for pumpkin-flavoured beverages; replacing them are peppermint mochas, eggnog lattes and snickerdoodle-flavoured coffees. In holiday teas, there are flavors such as chocolate mint truffle, cranberry pomegranate and gingerbread black tea.

I have noticed in the company news releases that T&CTJ receives that there seems to be a Latin-inspired twist to several new holiday items this year. Peet’s Coffee has introduced Havana Dulce Cappuccino, hand-pulled espresso, steamed milk and dulce de leche. The Canela Dulce Black Tie features Peet’s Baridi Blend Cold Brew layered with cinnamon flavor, dulce de leche, and topped with half and half. In early fall, Starbucks debuted a Chile Mocha, which blends ancho and cayenne chile pepper and cinnamon into its mocha coffee. The Chile Mocha is also available as hot chocolate. (Caribou Coffee has had a Spicy Mocha on its winter menu for several years. Caribou’s Spicy Mocha blends melted dark, milk or white chocolate, cinnamon and chili pepper into steamed milk and espresso.)

I admit, my mood perked up seeing the holiday décor and new flavour choices, though I’m not sure why. Is it the most wonderful time of year like Christmas carols and Hollywood movies want us to believe? Or maybe it’s the comfort of returning seasonal favourites that allow consumers to indulge for a limited time. Or maybe it’s the cheery red and green cups often adorned with wintery images that coffee shops use this time of year. Or maybe it’s a combination of all three.

Consumers often complain that retailers start Christmas promotions too early so by the time December comes, people have had enough. However, given the type of year 2016 has been for so many people and countries, maybe we do need our holiday cheer to start early, and if a seasonal coffee or tea can help with that, all the better.

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