In its first 15 years on the menu, Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte sold close to 424 million cups worldwide. Even non-coffee drinkers are familiar with the chain’s so-called PSL, thanks to the countless memes born from its craze-inducing popularity. Unfortunately, this popularity has overshadowed many delicious holiday coffee flavors that have nothing to do with the autumnal gourd.
After all, even if you’re just brewing a cup at home, coffee is rarely just coffee anymore.
Roasters are constantly exploring new prep methods and releasing unique flavors to customers. At the same time, high-tech espresso machines and professional ingredients are becoming more and more accessible to the average coffee lover.
Put all of these factors together, and you have a recipe for innovative and delicious coffee-making without the hassle or expense of visiting a chain.
10 Festive Holiday Coffee Flavors to Make Yourself
As the temperatures drop and the days draw short, nothing is more tempting than a warm, caffeinated beverage. Even for fans of pumpkin spice, though, variety is the true spice of life.
From the first fallen leaf to the season’s very last snowflake, here are some of the best holiday coffee flavors to try making for yourself this year.
We enjoy maple syrup on our pancakes and waffles year-round, yet maple is decidedly seasonal in the world of coffee. Most coffee shops roll out their maple recipes at the end of summer or beginning of autumn — right alongside their beloved pumpkin flavors.
No breakfast spread would be complete without maple syrup, so it’s no surprise that maple-inspired coffees are pretty commonplace.
Our favorites are the Fall in Love Vermont Maple Grove Ground Coffee and the Crave Coffee Vermont Maple Flavored Coffee Pods. Maple-flavored creamer will up the intensity, but definitely isn’t necessary.
You can also easily transform an everyday latte into a maple one with a few servings of Torani Maple Flavor Syrup. Or use pure maple syrup from a local sugarmaker for a more authentic flavor.
2. Caramel apple
Before pumpkin spice stole the spotlight, no flavor was more synonymous with fall than apple. Personally, we love the trend of infusing caramel apple flavors with brewed coffee.
The simplest way to enjoy some caramel apple coffee is with The Original Donut Shop Caramel Apple Pie K-Cup Pods. Keep in mind, though, that these coffee pods are only available during the fall!
You can use flavoring syrups, like the Monin Caramel Apple Butter Syrup, to make a fall latte. Add a tiny bit to your regular cup of joe for a caramel apple twist you can enjoy year-round.
If you find yourself craving a quick-and-easy mug of hot cider or have little ones who probably shouldn’t have caffeine, Grove Square Spiced Apple Cider Single Serve Cups work just like any coffee-filled pod or K-Cup.
3. Black Forest
Black Forest cake probably isn’t the first thing to come to mind when brainstorming holiday coffee flavors. But it just makes sense and sounds delicious.
What’s not to love about rich, dark chocolate paired with the tartness of wild cherries?
At this time, no major coffee roasters have come up with their own version of this flavor. So if you want to try Black Forest coffee, you’ll need to make your own.
Start with your favorite dark chocolate mocha recipe. You can melt down chocolate bars or use a ready-to-go drink syrup like the Monin Dark Chocolate Flavored Syrup. Once you have your mocha, mix in a little bit of tart cherry juice or cherry syrup to taste. Whipped cream is optional but always recommended.
4. Crème brûlée
Even if you’ve never taken a bite of this creamy dessert, you can probably picture its creation with ease. Once the dessert has set, a hand torch melts a thin layer of sugar on top.
The name crème brûlée, translating to burnt cream, succinctly describes the process of creating the crisp upper-shell.
While crème brûlée doesn’t “belong” to any particular season, its presence on the Starbucks winter menu has earned it a place on our list of holiday coffee flavors.
Crème brûlée’s creamy flavor pairs excellently with brewed coffee, so it’s not hard to find flavored beans. If you like the coffee chain’s seasonal drinks, try the Starbucks Crème Brûlée Flavored Coffee K-Cup Pods. For something from a smaller bean roaster, we like the Lola Savannah Crème Brulée Flavored Coffee.
Do you prefer lattes over plain, old brewed coffee? Then you’ll be thrilled to hear how easy it is to make a crème brûlée-inspired drink.
Torani has its own Crème Brûlée Latte recipe that uses its own syrups if you need some inspiration. But you can make a latte with any combination of caramel and vanilla you prefer.
Gingerbread isn’t just for nursery rhymes and holiday decor. This mix of sugar and spice is the perfect complement to roasted coffee beans or decadent lattes.
When it comes to flavored ground or whole bean coffee, you have plenty of options. Most of these flavors only sell during the Christmas season, so stock up while you can.
For Keurig owners or similar single-cup brewers, we recommend the Brooklyn Bean Roastery Gingerbread Man Single Cup Coffee. Coffee lovers who prefer a traditional machine, French press or Aeropress should try the Tis the Season Gingerbread Ground Coffee.
You can absolutely create your gingerbread latte with spices from your pantry. However, we suggest using flavored syrup, like Torani Gingerbread Syrup, for coffee. Use the dry spice mix for garnishing your holiday drinks instead.
6. Christmas cookie
Of course, gingerbread men aren’t the only cookies left out for Santa. For a simple, sweet, and festive pick-me-up, look to Christmas sugar cookies for inspiration.
While many families have their heirloom recipes, the actual Christmas cookie flavor is unmistakable. You can replicate the taste and aroma of late-December with little more than cinnamon and sugar.
This flavor combo brings a subtle sweetness to roasted coffee beans. We like the Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Cinnamon Sugar Cookie K-Cup Pods or Cameron’s Coffee Cinnamon Sugar Cookie Coffee, depending on what brewing style your home uses.
You can also add Christmas cookie flavoring to your everyday coffee or create your own latte. The Torani Brown Sugar Cinnamon Syrup is an all-in-one option. If you’re on a low-sugar diet, try the Jordan’s Skinny Syrups Christmas Cookie Syrup as an alternative.
7. Candy cane
Peppermint went hand-in-hand with winter long before pumpkin spice became the “it” flavor of autumn. Its association with Christmas and winter as a whole, dates as far back as the 1600s, with the introduction of the candy cane.
Peppermint and coffee make a delicious combo — doubly so if you add chocolate to the mix. With the right ingredients on hand, you can enjoy peppermint with your coffee at any time of the year.
If you prepare your everyday coffee with a Keurig or other single-serving machine, we recommend trying the Cameron’s Coffee White Chocolate Peppermint Single Serve Coffee or The Original Donut Shop Peppermint Bark K-Cup Pods for your minty fix.
For traditional ground coffee beans, try Starbucks’ own Peppermint Mocha Flavored Ground Coffee.
You can create an at-home candy cane latte or peppermint bark mocha with a simple flavoring syrup like the Amoretti Premium Peppermint Syrup.
Served with or without a spike of alcohol, eggnog is one of those seasonal food items backed by an incredibly loyal fan base. Love it or hate it, eggnog is undeniably quintessential to the Christmas season.
The easiest way to enjoy an eggnog-infused coffee is a lot simpler than you might think. Just replace regular creamer with your favorite eggnog brand or homemade recipe! Use French vanilla coffee beans as a base to up the flavor.
If you prefer your coffee without cream or want to savor eggnog-flavored java outside of the creamy beverage’s brief sales window, opt for flavored beans instead.
As always, if you can imagine a flavor, a concentrated syrup exists to replicate it. Many big brands sell eggnog syrups during the winter months — some may be available all year. Two to try right now include the Torani Italian Eggnog Syrup and the DaVinci Gourmet Classic Egg Nog Syrup.
9. Chocolate orange
Over in Great Britain, Terry’s Chocolate Orange is a modern Christmas tradition. Don’t be fooled by appearances — it’s solid chocolate shaped like an orange, not a chocolate-coated orange.
Still, Terry’s does use a touch of orange oil to make these confectionery treats.
You might just be surprised by how well chocolate, orange, and coffee go together! If you enjoy coffee containing fruity notes, this combo is sure to be a hit.
Several roasters offer chocolate orange-flavored coffee beans, so we recommend checking your favorite local brand for this flavor. If you come back empty-handed, the San Marco Coffee Chocolate Orange Flavored Coffee and the Arbuckle’s Chocolate Orange Autodrip Ground Coffee are two great options.
Want to pay homage to this quaint stocking stuffer with a creamy mocha? Add a few drops of the McCormick Culinary Pure Orange Extract to your favorite dark chocolate mocha recipe.
Nearly everyone knows the line, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire.” But have you ever enjoyed roasted chestnuts during the holiday season?
While the tradition has faded over time, chestnuts were once a staple of winter diets in the eastern United States.
Cooked chestnuts are rich and slightly sweet, making them the perfect partner to a warm cup of coffee. Starbucks even features the flavor in its holiday exclusive Chestnut Praline Latte.
For your basic cup of coffee with just a hint of chestnut, we recommend the San Marco Coffee Roasted Chestnuts Flavored Coffee. Try the Christopher Bean Coffee Salty Chestnut Praline Flavored Coffee if you want to enjoy notes of caramel as well.
Sadly, chestnut isn’t a popular enough flavor to warrant its own selection of latte syrups. Instead, you can add similar flavors of nutty sweetness to your espresso drinks with praline. We suggest the DaVinci Gourmet Classic Praline Syrup, but any praline-flavored sweetener will do the trick.
Spread Good Cheer With Coffee This Year
Do you like brewed coffee or rich espresso? Are you a fan of cream and sugar, or do you take your coffee black? It doesn’t matter because there’s a way for every type of coffee drinker to enjoy a festive cup of joe.
While you’re at it, try combining flavors for something brand new. Or swap in your favorite local brands for the ones suggested.
We’ve recommended some of the best methods to create these holiday coffee flavors at home, but don’t be afraid to take some creative liberty. You might just stumble on a caffeinated masterpiece!
Christmas inspires most mainstream holiday drinks, but we know this is just one of the countless holidays celebrated during the season. We’d love to hear your suggestions for fall and winter coffee flavors inspired by other holidays and seasonal traditions in the comments below!