Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
February 3, 2023

The best specialty holiday drinks to warm you this winter

By TANVI NARVEKAR | December 7, 2022

ebenezers

COURTESY OF TANVI NARVEKAR

Narvekar reviews her top picks for winter drinks in the Baltimore and D.C. area, highlighting the beverages that allowed holiday flavors to shine the brightest.

When it comes to coffee, I will take any opportunity to try new flavors. It’s not even the caffeine I care about, I just love the taste. Usually, my go-to order will be an iced coffee with oat milk and some brown sugar from Brody cafe (only $1.75 if you bring your own mug!). I promised myself that I would make more coffee at home, but during finals season I have been struggling to find the time. In addition, the act of getting coffee just brings a bit of joy into my day. 

I decided to stay in Baltimore for this Thanksgiving break to catch up on work. However, to get me out of my room and also give me some sense of adventure, I had the brilliant idea to cafe-hop while doing my work. My goal was to try a bunch of new seasonal lattes.

My criteria for a good seasonal latte is as follows: 

  • I can taste the coffee or the coffee is somewhat strong and not overpowered by milk or flavor (good milk to coffee ratio).
  • I can taste the other flavors complementing the coffee flavor.
  • It’s not too sweet: Because most flavored lattes use a sugar-based syrup, the key is to have just enough syrup to include flavor but not too much to make it too sweet.
COURTESY OF TANVI NARVEKAR

Gingerbread Latte at Good Neighbor in Baltimore

The first latte I tried was from Good Neighbor. Good Neighbor is a very aesthetic coffee shop in Hampden. It is around a 30-minute walk from campus, but it is a great spot if you want to get off of campus and study in a cute place.

They had a couple of options for a seasonal latte, but the gingerbread latte really sounded like the best to me. I also love gingerbread cookies, so I was really hoping for the best. The flavor notes for this latte included cloves, molasses and black pepper.

I decided to order it iced. The coffee-to-milk ratio ended up being great once I tried it. I struggled to taste the gingerbread at first, so I asked them to add a bit more of the syrup, and the flavor came through after that. It does complement the espresso very well. Finally, even though I added a bit of extra syrup, it wasn’t too sweet. I need to try this latte hot instead of iced because I have a feeling it would taste better if it were hot.

COURTESY OF TANVI NARVEKAR

Honey Halva Latte at Tatte in D.C.

To get out of Baltimore for a minute I took a train to D.C. for a day trip. I walked for around 15 minutes from Union Station to Tatte Bakery and Cafe on Massachusetts Avenue. Tatte is another aesthetic cafe to work at with several locations all across D.C.

They had a couple of different options, but I went with the honey halva and cardamom latte. I love chai — strong Indian chai. When I make chai at home I add a lot of cardamom (possibly too much). I think cardamom pairs well with coffee, so I was excited to try this coffee. Learning from my mistakes, I decided to get this latte hot to prevent it from being watered down. 

This latte was amazing. It had just the right amount of sweetness. Every flavor (honey, halva, cardamom and coffee) could be tasted. It did remind me of chai a slight bit. They also got the ratio of coffee to milk just right. If you like spiced flavors like cardamom and clove, this will be a great option for you to try. 

Honey Cinnamon Latte at Ebenezers in D.C.

Another D.C. coffee shop I visited was Ebenezers Coffeehouse, which was a five-minute walk from Union Station. I ordered the honey cinnamon latte. This was my second latte of the day, so I decided to get it decaffeinated. Unfortunately, decaf coffee and espresso can sometimes lose their full-bodied flavors. However, that was not the case for this latte. 

This latte had just the right amount of sweetness and the perfect espresso-to-milk ratio. The milk was also perfectly steamed, which makes a latte extra special. If I were to summarize the latte in two words, it would be “warm hug.” 

COURTESY OF TANVI NARVEKAR

Peppermint Mocha at Brody Cafe in Baltimore

Finally, I wanted to include an option for a seasonal latte at Brody. I love Brody’s hot mochas and iced peppermint lattes in general, so this seemed like a perfect combination.

To satisfy my craving, I decided to order a peppermint mocha. It was raining so a hot coffee was the move. Initially I was worried that this would be overwhelmingly sweet, so I asked the barista to make it less sweet. I think the flavors of peppermint and mocha go amazing together. The flavors could have been stronger, but because I requested for it to be less sweet, I think my order had a bit less syrup than if you asked for it regularly. Regardless, it was really good. Brody always gets the milk-to-espresso ratio right, and I really appreciate them for that. This latte was no different. The coffee and flavor complemented each other well.


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