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The Season’s Best Hot Drinks: Our Favorite Things

As soon as the first leaf hits the ground each autumn, you can feel a change in the air—and not just because the temperature’s dropping. People everywhere begin to shift gears into winter mode, switching from iced teas and frappuccinos to spicy ciders, aromatic teas, and gingerbread-y coffees. 

Our editorial team shares the hot drinks that get them out of bed and keep them toasty-warm through the long, dark days of winter.


Vicki Santillano, Staff Writer
In general, I try to avoid caffeine, as it makes me feel “hepped up on goofballs,” so to speak. But on special occasions, I like to break out the black tea, especially the Mighty Leaf variety. Vanilla Bean’s my favorite, hands down—it’s a combination of Madagascar vanilla and black tea leaves that smells tantalizing as it steeps. The best way to enjoy it, in my opinion, is with a little soy or almond milk added for extra creaminess and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Sweet, soothing, and uplifting (hello, caffeine boost!), it’s the perfect accompaniment to a crisp fall afternoon.


Allison Ford, Staff Writer
There is nothing more luxurious, delicious, and indulgent than a City Bakery hot chocolate during a cold New York winter. The thick, viscous chocolate tastes like a liquefied candy bar and the meringue-y homemade marshmallow melts delicately into the cup. Every February, they even offer fancy flavors like beer, ginger, lemon, and bourbon. (I’m a purist, myself, and I stick to the original.) It’s so rich that City Bakery has to offer tiny “shot” sized cups for people who can’t handle the full serving. I stick to the large size, of course. As they say, too much of a good thing is wonderful. 

Photo courtesy of Allison Ford

Shyla Batliwalla, Editorial Coordinator
I live in a city of coffee snobs. Everybody is constantly seeking out the latest trendy, indie brew (myself included). While I’m usually up to dish out five bones for a delicious cup of coffee with a hand-spun heart floating in the foam, behind closed doors it’s a different story. When I’m protected in the comfort of my own home, my favorite warm drink is a cup of Nescafe Instant Taster’s Choice. (I know, I know!) It’s the coffee my parents always bought—in bulk from Costco; it’s the stuff I grew up on. Judge me, hate me, or join me, my favorite warm drink is a cheap and delicious cup of Nescafe Instant.



Jennifer Hastings, Partner Coordinator
A winter chill is in the air and it’s almost time to send the holiday party invitations, which means it’s also time to order a batch of Wine Country Mulling Spices to make my favorite hot drink—sweet mulled wine. I simply simmer a bag of Wine Country Mulling Spices, cheap red wine, and brown sugar for one hour, and let the fragrances of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and hints of flower and fruit take over my home. The drink itself brings back all kinds of wonderful winter memories, like the Christmas I spent in England where I took my first sip of the stuff. It’s bloody delicious!


Annie Tucker Morgan, Editor
Every winter, I get excited when cafés start rolling out their specialty-drink menus for the holidays. Though I’ve been known to be distracted momentarily by pumpkin- and eggnog-flavored varieties, the hot beverage that really makes me weak in the knees is a Starbucks gingerbread latte. As much as I like to support my local mom-and-pop coffee shops, it’s hard for me to resist the siren song of Starbucks in November and December, when the tantalizing scent of spicy, cinnamon-y goodness seems to waft out of half the storefronts in downtown San Francisco. Any time you find a drink that makes you feel like you’re eating a cookie, you know you’ve struck gold. 

Photo courtesy of Steve Webel (cc)

Caitlin Goebel, Community Development Manager
I’ve never been a coffee drinker; I’m more of a tea girl. I love a warm cup in the morning with a splash of milk, no sugar needed. If you’re looking for an addictive brand of tea, I recommend Mariage Frères from France. Their French Breakfast tea puts a smile on my face every single morning. Come to think of it, I believe I’m almost out! 

Photo courtesy of roboppy (cc)

Natalie Josef, Managing Editor
Never in a million years would I have thought I would become a Starbucks drinker. I don’t really care for huge corporations. But when I started working in downtown San Francisco in the nine-to-five grind, I found a morning pick-me-up was a good way to get the day started. I don’t care for coffee, but I love hot chocolate, so I’ve compromised by having what I call grown-up hot chocolate—a mocha. My drink of choice is a grande, decaf mocha, extra hot, with no whip. I like consistency and interacting with the nice folks at my chosen Starbucks, so here I am with a daily Starbucks habit. Sigh.


Picture of the author’s mug courtesy of the author  

Rebecca Brown, Editor-in-Chief
While I thoroughly enjoy a nice, stout Irish coffee, I report to our office every day at 8:30 a.m., and starting each day with a shot of Bushmill’s probably wouldn’t go over so well with my boss. A close (and non-alcoholic) second favorite is Peet’s lemon rose tea. Other herbal teas don’t always deliver the same power-packed taste that their yummy aromas seem to promise, but this tea does … in spades. My taste buds delight in the equal doses of deliciousness from the distinct lemon and rose flavors; add a little honey and you’ve got absolute perfection. Excellent for cold mornings, sore throats, and those Tuesdays that feel like you’ve already worked a full month of Mondays. 

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