The Guilty Pleasure: Chestnut Praline Latte Where to Get It: Starbucks, locations every-freaking-where Price: Five bucks, give or take. What it Really Costs: As usual per Starbucks, your hipster coffee cred.
When Starbucks releases a new item, my usual reaction is minimal at best. They have so many different seasonal offerings that when something new comes along, I barely bat an eyelash. It's been five years since the last new Starbucks holiday offering, but it certainly doesn't seem like it.
Even though I'm not the biggest fan of Starbucks, I still heed the call of the Green Siren more often than I would care to admit. I can't help it, it's the closest place to my day job to get a cup of joe. And that location has one of the elusive Clover machines, which brews some truly marvelous coffee.
But that's another article.
While I usually stick to Clover-brewed coffees, it's nice to change things up every now and then. As you could imagine from the enthusiasm (or lack thereof) I show over new Starbucks flavors, my usual reaction upon sampling the latest offering is a lightly bemused "Hmm, interesting," and then next time I'm right back to the Clover.
This time, however, is different. The new thing at Starbucks this year is the Chestnut Praline Latte.
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Much to my surprise, I found it downright enjoyable. Maybe even a little bit sophisticated, especially for such a mass-market product.
The secret is in the syrup. The praline flavor comes across with a distinct burnt sugar note. It tastes a bit like caramel (as it should; praline and caramel are kissing cousins in the candy world), but with a little bitterness.
That hint of bitter works strongly in the latte's favor. It underscores coffee's naturally bitter flavor profile, reminding you that under all of that milk and sugar Starbucks uses, there's a couple shots of espresso in there. I find that the coffee flavor isn't quite strong enough to my liking, but I think every Starbucks latte could taste a little more like coffee. So, I find myself adding an extra shot or two, even if the price at that point does make me cringe a little.