We Tested And Ranked All 4 Of Starbucks' New Holiday Cold Foams

In creating these special limited-edition holiday cold foams, Starbucks chose to capture some of the most ubiquitous holiday flavors in a finicky medium. It's not just about stirring some syrup into coffee or drizzling chocolate syrup on top of a mountain of whipped cream and calling it good. Most people love some foam floating on their warm beverage, but what about a cold one on an iced drink? And what about trying to imbue that cold foam with holiday flavors primarily associated with warmth and coziness? It's a challenge for sure, but Starbucks has never shied away from fun — sometimes odd — concoctions (see our opinion on the infamous Oleato).

The four brand-new cold foams are festive to the max: Chocolate Peppermint, Caramel Brûlée, Chestnut Praline, and Sugar Cookie. They do not come with their own dedicated full coffees. Instead, customers can add them to their favorite existing beverages, mixing and matching to find the absolute best. Whether you are someone who likes to drink iced coffee year-round or someone who lives in a climate where the holidays don't necessitate a winter coat, you're going to be feeling merry.

We determined our ranking based on two factors: First of all, the pure flavor of the cold foam itself, and also, the way it complimented a carefully chosen coffee beverage. We went ahead and paired each cold foam with the drink most likely to elevate said cold foam, thereby accomplishing maximum enjoyment. If we do say so ourselves, the pairings are spot-on.

4. Caramel Brulée Cream Cold Foam paired with the Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew

Caramel is a sophisticated holiday flavor — sugar but richer with a honeyed depth. Starbucks tried to further elevate what is essentially sugar by giving it the "brulée" treatment, a wink at the gorgeous French dessert creme brulee with its torch-lit, crackly, slightly burnt lid of sugar over velvety custard. It's a little much to cram into a cold foam, and we mostly just tasted a barely emboldened version of caramel. Considering how much Starbucks does with caramel, we admit that this cold foam gets a little lost in the shuffle, but it's still nice.

Sugar cookies are sweet, but you know what is even sweeter? Caramel. There are no whispers of butter and vanilla to offset that intense sugary flavor. That's why we decided to forgo more obvious pairings like a caramel macchiato or caramel latte and choose a more mild-manner drink that would let the cold foam take center stage without engulfing your taste buds in gooey caramel. The lovely Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew is perfect. Cold brew accentuates the dark, bitter flavor of coffee beans, while a splash of sweet cream brings out the sweetness of the caramel cold foam. It's a well-rounded drink that's plenty sweet and festive, but less overwhelming. If you love caramel but have less of a sweet tooth, this is a bold cold foam that would still hold its own against a pure, black cold brew.

3. Sugar Cookie Cream Cold Foam paired with the Iced Sugar Cookie Almondmilk Latte

Sugar cookies go with the holiday season like practically nothing else. The whole process of mixing ingredients, rolling them out, using a cookie cutter in the shape of a snowflake or Santa Claus, baking them, decorating them, and finally getting to eat them is a time-honored tradition for many. Getting that homemade, fresh-baked flavor into a beverage is hard, Starbucks did it. You can smell the cookies before you take a sip, even though it's not a warm topping. The flavor is only very, very slightly artificial, but mostly just tastes like bubbly, effervescent notes of butter, sugar, and vanilla. If you like your coffee on the sweet side, putting a layer of sugar cookie cold foam on top is a no-brainer. Unfortunately, the flavor is a little too faint, and we wish it were more pronounced.

And what beverage did we choose to have beneath the cold foam? Another no-brainer: The Sugar Cookie Almondmilk latte. Sure, it's maxing out on sweetness, but hey, 'tis the season, after all. The almond milk, as opposed to heavier cow's milk, helps reduce the richness and makes it more likely that a customer will actually be able to enjoy the whole thing. The red and green sprinkles just further evoke a sugar cookie itself, and if you want to go the whole nine yards, buy a bakery item to go along with it. What an absolute treat.

2. Peppermint Chocolate Cream Cold Foam paired with Iced Peppermint Mocha

The Peppermint Chocolate Cream Cold Foam has the difficult job of capturing not one but two powerful flavors: fresh, wintery peppermint and rich, fan-favorite chocolate. It works. The cold foam tastes almost like a chilled, whipped minty hot chocolate, and no one here is mad about it. The mint flavor strikes the perfect balance between subtle and bold, avoiding the worst-case scenario we're always so scared of... toothpaste. It's a fun, super-festive cold foam that probably is the most polarizing of all four options, but if you like peppermint, you're going to love this.

We played around with more unexpected drinks to add this cold foam on, but in the end, we kept coming back to the inevitable Iced Peppermint Mocha. It's a Starbucks holiday classic for a reason. You barely feel like you're drinking coffee, except to undercut the chocolate with a bit of bitterness. It's the good kind of bitter, however, and takes the "mocha" in this drink from milk to dark chocolate on our palates. The double dose of peppermint might be too much for some people, and in that case, feel free to swap it out with a basic Iced Mocha instead. Everyone falls on a different place on the peppermint preference spectrum.

1. Chestnut Praline Cream Cold Foam paired with the Iced Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso

Out of the four limited-edition holiday cold foams, the Chestnut Praline Cream sounded the most interesting. Many people have tried toasted, sweetened nuts like praline pecans, but the holiday season calls for that old-world flavor of chestnuts. You know, the ones roasting on an open fire, jack frost nipping at your nose. The association with yuletide cheer is inescapable. The cold foam had the most complexity, with layers of brown sugar, caramel, and nutty goodness — plus a hint of salt. Also, the warmth was clear even in a chilled beverage. It's a winner.

There is always the option of pairing the Chestnut Praline Cream Cold Foam with the Chestnut Praline Latte, but we decided to experiment with drawing out those brown sugary notes while keeping it a little less milky (and therefore diluted). Enter the Iced Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso. It's got plenty of strong espresso flavor but smoothed over with the cozy flavor of oatmilk. The brown sugar syrup shines without taking away from the chestnut flavor in the cold foam. Overall, this is probably the Starbucks creation we are most excited to have discovered. If you also believe that brown sugar-themed desserts are underrated, try this recipe. It swaps the white sugar for brown, creating a super chewy cookie.