Gingerbread, eggnog, pumpkin spice … whenever seasonal lattes roll out at national coffee chains, we feel strangely drawn to try them. But disappointment looms: The drinks are way too sweet, and the spices always seem off.
So we asked chefs from a handful of our favorite restaurants to create better versions, with quality ingredients. Here are their interpretations. You don't need a home espresso maker to re-create these; just steam the milk by hand, create froth with a whisk, and buy espresso shots from the coffeehouse. Here's a CHOW Tip on how to do it.
Chocolate "Egg Nog" Pudding Macchiato with Exotic Seasonings by Pichet Ong, Spot, New York City
Ong interpreted our assignment loosely, producing more of a dessert than a latte. We'd like to see Starbucks try this one.
Carrot Cake Latte by Nicole Plue, Redd, Yountville, California
The afternoon cake-and-coffee habit reimagined: Plue's latte really does taste like carrot cake.
Vanilla-Gingerbread Latte by Robert Hellen, Resto, New York City
Hellen's delicious gingery treat gets even better when you add whiskey.
Pumpkin Garam Masala Latte by Luis Villavelazquez, Absinthe Brasserie & Bar, San Francisco, California
Villavelazquez pioneered the use of Pop Rocks in desserts, and by combining garam masala with pumpkin he once again proves his iconoclasm.