Our Favourite Holiday Drink To Sip This Season Will Surprise You

We taste-tested peppermint mochas from Starbucks, McDonald's, Tim Hortons and Second Cup.

Four McCafe cups in varying sizes with red lids

Candy cane season is finally here, whether you like it or not. And that means coffee-shop menus are swapping out pumpkin spice lattes for beverages that basically taste like melted After Eight bars. But which chocolate-peppermint concoction should you indulge in while watching the Santa Claus parade or strolling through a Christmas market? We gathered the Chatelaine kitchen team for a highly scientific taste test to find out.

The team tasted piping hot peppermint-and-chocolate lattes from Starbucks, Second Cup, McDonald’s and Tim Hortons. We were looking for the perfect flavour harmony, an ideal balance of rich chocolate and fresh peppermint. The clear winner: The McDonald’s peppermint mocha. (We were surprised, too.)

Seasonal lattes are notorious sugar bombs, but this peppermint mocha isn’t overly sweet and balances both the mint and chocolate flavours best. It also comes in a snazzy festive cup with a snowflake design and a bright red lid — clearly Starbucks isn’t the only chain in the red cup game any more. Compared to offerings from other chains, McDonald’s mocha actually contains the least amount of sugar at 46 grams for a medium. By comparison, a grande peppermint mocha from Starbucks has 52 grams of sugar and Second Cup’s medium peppermint moccaccino had 60 grams of sugar.

For those who hate peppermint, we’d recommend the toasted white chocolate mocha from Starbucks — we found its other holiday offerings a bit too sweet. Or for a super syrupy, nostalgic treat that tastes like road trips and arenas, order Tim Hortons’ peppermint hot chocolate.

Of course, local, independent cafes will serve holiday drinks too, but if you find yourself under the golden arches with a craving for Christmas, you know what to do.

Tim Hortons or McDonald’s? Which chain makes Canada’s best coffee?