With the holiday season officially here, coffee fans have their pick of seasonal drinks. The days of the Pumpkin Spice Latte are gone, and we are in the thick of peppermint mocha season. With so many different coffee shops offering their own version, we had to ask: Is the Starbucks Peppermint Mocha the best, or is it Mcdonald's?

There are plenty of devotees to the Starbucks peppermint mocha, which is really the OG. While it never really attained the heights of popularity that the PSL did, it still has plenty of fans.

Meanwhile, McDonald's offers its own peppermint mocha as part of its holiday McCafe menu. McDonald's has quickly made itself known as more than just a place to grab a burger and fries. Its coffee has garnered a lot of respect, and the fast-food chain has continued to expand its selection of specialty hot drinks.

Now, let's get one thing out of the way: neither of these drinks is healthy. At all. A medium peppermint mocha from McDonald's boasts 46 grams of sugar and seven grams of saturated fat. By comparison, a grande peppermint mocha from Starbucks contains 10 grams of saturated fat and 49 grams of sugar.

However, we were not interested in the nutritional value of these drinks. We wanted to find out which one was better. So I brought home a peppermint mocha from both McDonald's and Starbucks for a taste test, and these are my thoughts.

If we were just going to talk about who has the more attractive cups, then Starbucks would win easily. But it's what's inside that counts, so let's take a look.

I swear that these both had whipped cream on top of them at some point, but during the trek home from buying them, it obviously melted, lightening the colour of both drinks.

The McDonald's mocha ended up being lighter, although that was probably more to do with the size (small).

While that one was topped with whipped cream and chocolate drizzle, the Starbucks mocha was topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Unfortunately, those shavings survived the hot drink itself, giving it an almost chunky appearance.

The McDonald's mocha had a much stronger peppermint aroma, but it was too artificial. It was like smelling a drink made with a tube of toothpaste.

The Starbucks mocha didn't have as strong of a peppermint smell, but it was a much deeper and richer aroma. The chocolate really came through on this one.

As for taste, McDonald's had a stronger peppermint flavour (as predicted by the smell). Not much else came through, making for a really unbalanced drink. That being said, the texture was nice and smooth. 

The Starbucks mocha had a milder peppermint flavour, but everything else somewhat made up for that. The texture was a bit more silty, like a French press coffee, but not grainy. The most overwhelming flavour was chocolate.

Both drinks hid their coffee content under everything else, but I suppose if you want coffee, you don't get a peppermint mocha.

Final verdict: Starbucks remains king of the peppermint mocha game. While the McDonald's peppermint mocha definitely stands out on its own, it lacks the balance of the original. 

Now to go work off all of this excess afternoon caffeine!


The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.

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