It's not officially the holiday season until you've treated yourself to a Peppermint Mocha or a Gingerbread Latte. Rather than heading to your local Starbucks and dropping a pretty penny for a warm pick-me-up, stay home and make these DIY cafeinated beverages instead. Created with delicious homemade syrups that can be used for way more than espresso drinks, these lattes are sure to give the originals at Starbucks a run for their money.

By Sara Tane
December 05, 2016
Photo: Daniel Agee; Food Styling: Blakeslee Giles; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

I will be the first one to admit that Starbucks has a hold on me. While I can just as easily make a cup of joe at home or support a small local cafe when I am in need of my daily dose of caffeine, I will always pick the option that involves my favorite green mermaid lady. And that constant Starbucks itch that I need to scratch is shamelessly heightened around the holidays. Between the festively decorated stores, the extended holiday menu, and the adorable red (or green) cups, Starbucks marketing has successfully tapped into an even deeper, stronger urge within me that continues to lead me back to their cozy lattes.

Gingerbread Latte image

Photo: Daniel Agee; Food Styling: Blakeslee Giles; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

When I caught wind of DIY Starbucks lattes brewing in our test kitchen, I experienced a wave of excitement followed by a strong gust of deep anguish. If I am able to make these signature holiday classics at home, how will I satisfy my fervorous need to head to my local Starbucks franchise that consistently provides me with so much joy? Dilemmas come in all shapes and sizes, and this one in particular is colossal.
Once I came to terms with the jarring fact that I might actually enjoy the experience of going to Starbucks more than the drinks themselves, I went ahead a tried out these so-called copycat Starbucks peppermint and gingerbread signature holiday sips. Despite the fact that I did not consume this out of an intricately designed and highly controversial red paper cup, and a jolly barista did not call out my name and beam at me upon handing me my drink, the taste of these lattes hold true to the Starbucks drinks that I hold so near and dear. Whether you’re #TeamGingerbread or #TeamPeppermintMocha (these hashtags are not social movements, just groups that I have constructed in my imagination), you’ve got everything you need at home to skip the trip to Starbucks. 

Peppermint Syrup image

Photo: Daniel Agee; Food Styling: Blakeslee Giles; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

You’re probably wondering why on earth I would make these at home and deprive myself of going to a place I often consider home (you might also be wondering why I don’t have better hobbies). Well, on top of saving money, the great thing about these DIY lattes is the flavored syrups that you will make on your path to latte righteousness. Not only can you use the peppermint syrup and gingerbread syrup in your caffeinated beverages, but they’d also be awesome stirred into a hot chocolate, drizzled over ice cream, mixed into your next batch of brownies, or incorporated into a sweet cocktail

Gingerbread Syrup image

Photo: Daniel Agee; Food Styling: Blakeslee Giles; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

These syrups are so tasty and easy to pull together, they could quite possibly put Starbucks out of business if it wasn’t so damn amazing to enter any given Starbucks during the month of December. In the spirit of the holiday season, these syrups would also make for a great food gift for java-loving friends and family. Again, they’re simple to make, don’t require fussy or hard-to-find ingredients, and they’re wildly versatile. So go ahead and get your syrup on so that you can treat your friends to a lovely homemade gift, however if you are a friend of mine, I will be happily accepting Starbucks gift cards as well.