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Bear Bites: Iced Coffee of the Peninsula

Springtime brings along with it the anticipation of refreshing iced coffee drinks that replace the hot coffee drinks that warmed us in the winter. For those of us who cannot afford Frappuccinos that cost more than our lunch, we turn our attention to iced drinks that make less of a dent in our wallets, as well as cafes that are farther  off the beaten path. Aside from Starbucks, Peets, and Philz, we found some local cafes that are not only affordable but worth an afternoon visit on a sunny summer day.

Cafe Borrone Iced Almond Milk Latte: $4.30

First stop on our tour was Cafe Borrone, located on El Camino in Menlo Park. We braved the long line out the door, at a bustling time, right after school,  and ordered an iced almond milk latte. The latte was very milky, with a clear almond flavor. For a drink on the expensive side, it came with a significant amount of ice, so asking for less ice would optimize the amount of coffee. The coffee itself had a nice bold fruity intensity, with the almond milk swirling around in the bottom. There was a hint of bitterness and acidity, but it wasn’t clingy and offered a welcome note to the cream and sugar. Overall, it was a very respectable drink in a beautiful presentation, ready for its Instagram moment.

Overall Flavor: 4/5

Aroma: 4/5

Roast: 4/5

Intensity: 3/5

Price: ⅗

Overall Score:  3.6/5

 

Dunkin Donuts Iced Almond Milk Latte: $3.59

Next stop was Dunkin Donuts, all the way in Half Moon Bay, which may be a little far for some Bears, but we felt we had to include it because it is known for having some of the best coffee on the East Coast. Again we ordered an almond milk latte. The first taste hits like a wall of sugar, and the second taste with more caffeine. Overall it was way too heavy on sugar and cream, overpowering the balance of caffeine. Despite the sweetness, there was a distinct underlying bitterness that left a lasting aftertaste. Perhaps the sweetness can be assumed to be covering up the low quality coffee, justifying its low price. Or perhaps the quality of the coffee is good, and honestly we just can’t tell because it is masked.  For this too sweet, too creamy drink, only ask for less ice at your own peril.

Flavor: (fruity vs chocolatey), creaminess. 3/5

Aroma: 3/5

Roast (dark vs light)3/5

Price: 4/5

Intensity: 2/5

Overall Score:  3.0/5

 

Coffeebar Iced Almond Milk Latte: $5.50

Next stop was Coffeebar in downtown Menlo Park. Arguably overpriced, Coffeebar’s iced almond milk latte also seems to be over-hyped. Although it had a good ice to coffee ratio, the almond milk wasn’t the best, with an overpowering almond flavor. However, it was very rich, and that creaminess was cut with a bold flavor with hints of chocolate and caramel. The coffee itself was of a good dark roast, with just a few slight notes of bitterness. If the study gods shine on you and you are fortunate enough to find a table during finals, this is a sturdy and efficient drink to nurse while on a study binge.

Overall Flavor: 4/5

Aroma: 4/5

Roast (dark vs light)4/5

Price: 2/5

Intensity: 3/5

Overall Score:  3.4/5

 

Mcdonalds Iced Latte: $2.00

Last but not least, we visited Mcdonald’s on El Camino. Their iced coffee, the cheapest of them all, was certainly the best value. Because Mcdonald’s does not carry almond milk, we ordered a comparable regular iced latte. Although smaller than the other drinks we reviewed, it was still cheaper ounce for ounce. McDonalds offers a multitude of drink flavors, however, none included different milk options, so if you are lactose-intolerant, you will have to settle for the fries. The drink itself came out fast, with a satisfying milky bottom swirling with darker shots of coffee on top. The roast was not too dark and bitter, nor too mild. It was the perfect amount of creamy and sweet. It almost tastes like melted coffee ice cream, which, if you think about it, is not a bad thing at all. After our round of painstaking taste tests that had us driving all over the Bay, McDonalds was our surprising but clear winner.

Overall Flavor: 4/5

Aroma: 4/5

Roast:  4/5

Intensity: ⅘

Price: 5/5

Overall Score: 4.2 /5

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