Sydney Christmas Coffee

Friday: Inspired by one of my oldest friends, I thought I would put up a quick review of two Christmas drinks from the two main franchises in the Sydney CBD, I am not rating as I have no way of judging what I will drink. This is going up, if you feel like you need a strange drink experience in one of the two most stressed cafes this Christmas.

To get the most Christmas inspired drink, I asked at the counter, when ordering, “what is the most Christmassy drink you have.” (I am giving myself the option of no cream, as I’m not sure my body could handle that). And I would drink (as much as I can) what ever drink is produced. I’m a little afraid at this point as I am writing this before I am trying the drinks!

Starbucks – QVB
This little shop is pumping under the heat of tried shopped out peoples (particularly mothers) and newly arriving shoppers looking to get an energy burst as they leave Town Hall Station.

The line was long, but reasonably quick. I asked, with a little hesitation, “what is the most Christmassy drink you have?” and was told the best they had was a Toffee-Nut flavour. While not advertised, as coffee add-ins (they only show frappuccino’s with the Christmas flavours), they are more then happy to sell you it in a latte form. The Girl, asked me if I wanted cream, which I declined. When she asked for me name I said Rob.

The coffee was produced quite quickly and a coffee for “Lob” arrived. On the outset, I was disappointed I did not get one of their Seasonal red cups, but life goes on. Bad side the barista somewhat threw the drink at me and it spilt over my feet.

First impressions was that it was hot and sat at on about the right weight (maybe a little heavy). The aroma was that of the toffee-nut flavour alongside some kind of very sweet nutmeg.

Drinking it you are hit with a strong sugar (toffee?) and nutty flavour (drink does live to its name, although I am not sure it’s the right sugar or nut flavour). As you continue to drink it I found the syrup flavour came to dominant the drink more.

As the coffee cooled, the sugar taste somehow became more pronounced and gave me a sugar headache and made me slightly hyperactive.

Surprise of the drink was that as I drank down I came across bits of undissolved sugar and I found I was crunching on sugar at times. If you have never experienced this syrup before, the closet thing I can think of is that the taste resembles the old school “café latte” in-a-packet drinks.

Other options Peppermint (with chocolate mocha), Cranberry (with white chocolate mocha). Options also include with cream.

A small ‘short’, like this one will set you back $4.80.

Side note on the café, its busy as all hell cafe (part of the last min Christmas experience), sitting inside you will learn many peoples names (and strange pronunciations) and moreover become accustomed to all the combinations of coffee + syrup + cream + sizing I ever needed to know. There is little seating, but room for bags.

Gloria Jeans – Park and Pitt
Continuing to put my body on the line, I head up to the Gloria Jeans on the corner of Pitt and Park. First impressions, this is a huge café, it’s some what organised and reasonably quiet, even give it’s size.

I want up to the counter (which had no line) and did my “what is the most Christmassy drink you have?”, the guy looked really confused and suggested that butterscotch latte was the go. I went for a small, which came out at $3.75, no option of cream was offered (even though I would have turned it down)

The coffee came out quickly (although not as quickly as Starbucks) and was presented to “rob”, with a smile. This coffee from first impressions looked far more appealing to me. I liked the fact that a lid was not put on for me, I also liked the fact that the milk looked far more creamy (they self heated it, instead of those auto steamers like at Starbucks) and end result looked remarkably better. The barista suggested nutmeg on top of my coffee.

It came in a paper cup (boo) but it was a Christmas cup (yay), although Christmas for this chain means small Santa hat on the G of Gloria.

Over all, I liked this drink far more then the Starbucks one. The smell came from the nutmeg (although given I did put that on myself) And I found that on an initial impression the coffee tasted far less sweet then the Starbucks alternative, although the sugar was still quite noticeable. On drinking it all the way through I discovered no sugar surprises nor did I discover there to be anything too unpleasant about the whole experience (heat was good, weight a little light, but not significantly so). However, I could not help thinking, drinking this drink that it was more a desert then a coffee (although the two are one for many peoples).

On the cafe side it did sadly feel a whole lot less Christmas like (missing the location, decorations and the songs) however it was certainly cleaner with more seating options (inside and outside).

Moreover, I had a good experience here with one of the staff. In a moment of haste I happened to knock my coffee over. A barista quickly came over helped me mop it up and offered to replace my coffee (which I declined).

Just on a side note here to keep all things equal, there did not seem to be any other Christmas options here.

Coffee: The Christmas coffee at Gloria Jeans was far superior to that of Starbucks. Even in sugar coffee cocktails you can’t beat a real coffee machine.

Range: Starbucks had a far greater range and offered cream

Christmas feel (Drink): Neither drink felt that Christmassy to me. Starbucks produced something with more Christmas flavours, however neglected their cup. Gloria Jeans, produced a generic sweet drink, but had Christmas cups.

Christmas feel (Store): Starbucks is the clear winner here, they went all out in their store (Christmas merchandise, decorations) which was really supported by the busy shopping location of Starbucks, in the fanatic QVB.

Overall: If I wanted to feel part of the rush, needed sugar at all costs or a rest on the way to the station and did not really care Starbucks wins. If I wanted a more coffee like experience more space, better staff and the ability to escape the Christmas overload Gloria Jeans.

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