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Food + Drink

Taste Test: Specialty Coffees at Three Price Points

Ever gone to a restaurant, looked at a menu and noticed something that you consider more of a food-cart item being sold for three times the price? And then sat there wondering how much better a $20 hot dog can really be compared to a $6 one? Us too. That’s why we’re on a mission to find out the cold, hard truth. We’ll be picking one kind of food and trying it at three different price points.

This week we are covering the fall and winter coffee shop staple — specialty coffees.

Low: 7-Eleven, $1.29

In the past, we have definitely had some bones to pick with certain items that you can get to eat at Seven Eleven – take a look at our Taste Test on Nachos. We thought it only fair to give the chain another try, this time with a drink. The fun part was the fact that you were in charge of making the coffee you’re own creation. We went with peppermint mocha — holiday flavours were the obvious choice, but you can get classics like french vanilla, too!

We filled half our cup with the classic dark roast first, that way we knew it wouldn’t be too sweet, and added a little “chocolate” powder for good measure; since we don’t know if the powder is just cocoa, or sweetened cocoa, or actual chocolate powder, we don’t have a clue of how this affected our drink. It still ended up being too sweet and the coffee wasn’t amazing by any means. It was more than drinkable and for $1.35 (after tax) for a medium it’s hard to complain, plus we got the energy boost we were looking for. Safe to say that 7-Eleven has redeemed themselves.

Various locations,

Mid: Little Henry, $6

We’re used to Ten Foot Henry’s sister shop serving up a mean cup of coffee. By default, we were excited to see what they were serving up for this year’s Christmas festivities. Keeping it simple, they are offering two tried-and-true holiday classics, a peppermint mocha and a gingerbread latte. We picked a gingerbread latte for no particular reason and Henry did not disappoint.

Though the coffee is priced pretty close to coffee giants like Starbucks, don’t expect to find a bit of overly sweet syrup in your specialty coffee to get the flavour. The shop uses quality ingredients like ground spices, so the nutmeggy and gingery flavours in this will be legit. That being said, there is one downfall to that, and it will be that the bottom of your drink will be twice as flavourful as the top, but swirl it every once in a while and you’ll pretty much avoid this issue! All in all, this is one of our favourite choices for a seasonal drink this year.

1209 1 St. SW,

High: Deville, $10.25

Anytime you take something we already love and add Bailey’s to it, we are here for it. So, it should come as no surprise that a Bailey’s eggnog latte from Deville was a big hit. One of the coffee shop’s big selling points is actually that it is licenced – also the Nutella lattes, which are delicious – so, you can come by here for a nice glass of wine or a spiked cup of joe on a really bad day.

The coffee itself is high quality, and it shines on its own. That being said, adding some nog is definitely a welcomed improvement to an already fantastic drink. While it is quite a step up in price to add the liquor as well, we say it’s worth it. If sweets aren’t your thing, this won’t be the drink for you since it is pretty sugar heavy. Diehard fans of all things holiday flavoured are going to love this, though. The downside of this drink is that you can’t take it to go because you can’t just be carrying open booze all over town, but we don’t think that’s so bad. Bring a friend or two, have a nice chat and get an early start on your Saturday night here!

Various locations,

The Verdict

All in all, this may have been one of the best rounds of Taste Test that we’ve done. There was an obvious difference in quality of coffee with the low price point, but none were too bad. If you want to play around with your own flavours and combos, or you’re just looking for something cheap and quick, 7 – Eleven’s coffee definitely does the trick and depending on how you mix it, it can definitely turn out pretty alright. If you are basically looking for a cup of “hygge,” then Little Henry’s coffee is going to be perfect. You’ll get quality and festive flavour all at once. If you’re really just looking for some extra kick in your holiday drink, it is definitely worth it to go for the Bailey’s addition at Deville. You will not regret it!

Looking for a cold-weather activity to go with your hot drink? Check out our guide to winter sports close to Calgary.

By Michelle Pijanowski