Since 2014, Starbucks has released, by my own estimation, at least 700 limited edition seasonal beverages. The number of seasonal beverages released in that time by McDonald’s McCafe: zero. While the rest of the coffee universe was so busy that they were able to invent multiple unicorn-themed drinks, McDonald’s has abided by the old “slow and steady wins the race” axiom, waiting until it could craft a new coffee beverage that would be more than just “good.”
In early October, McDonald’s announced that 2019 was the year it was, at last, ready to unveil the most exciting development the seasonal coffee beverage sector has seen since the Dunkaccino: the Cinnamon Cookie Latte.
So, how exactly does it make a Cinnamon Cookie Latte? Take a regular latte, then add cinnamon to it. Innovation!
I tried both the hot and iced version of the new beverage, along with a side of the newly re-released Donut Sticks, also available for a limited time only. The iced latte tasted both cheap (which it was) and stale (which I hope it wasn’t), like convenience store drip coffee that’s been mixed with whole milk and one too many pumps of syrup, dusted with a generous amount of cinnamon that stuck to the ice cubes as the latte slowly began to disappear. As for the hot latte, that too tasted like cheap coffee, milk, and—as I discovered once I got to the bottom of the cup—a dense sludge of cinnamon sugar syrup. The cinnamon sprinkle made its way into the final sips of my beverage, which created the sensation of eating a teaspoon of sawdust after chewing a piece of Big Red. None of this tasted like cookies, which made the whole latte taste like betrayal.
My visit to McDonald’s wasn’t fully a disappointment, though. As you can see in the photo above, the Donut Sticks are served with a side of chocolate dipping sauce, which is packaged in the same cups they use for McNuggets sauces. For some reason I found this small touch absolutely delightful, and I intend to try sneaking several dozen of these into my purse on my next visit. I won’t be getting the Cinnamon Cookie Latte on that visit, though. That needs to go back into the test kitchen for some major improvements. I look forward to giving it a second chance in 2024.