A quick guide to the best chai latte on campus

Latte lovers unite! This one’s for you

Annalisa Waddick, Opinions Editor

I’m embarrassed to admit that it took me 21 years to realize that a chai latte does not actually have coffee in it. 

As an avid coffee hater (the taste and smell both make me sick), I had given a wide berth to any drink including the word “latte,” “mocha,” or “cappuccino,” assuming they were all synonyms for my bean-shaped enemy. You can imagine my surprise then, when one day at Lexington Coffee Shop (colloquially known as Lex Co.), a friend visiting from out of town informed me that a chai latte in fact contains no coffee, but rather is made with black tea.

This fateful fall day kickstarted my obsession with chai lattes, and I quickly realized that I did not have to venture off campus for my new daily drink. (This was great, as my medium chai latte with oat milk at Lex Co. cost me nearly $7, a price which was simply unsustainable.) Three places on campus serve chai lattes: Coop, Tea House, and Fireside up in third year. 

In the year since my chai-infused awakening, I have bought numerous lattes at each of these locales, and it’s become clear that not all drinks were created equal. So, for the benefit of all my fellow chai-latte fanatics, here’s a quick ranking of chai-latte sellers on campus:

3) Coop: Coming in last on this notably very short list is our beloved Coop. Whether I’m getting my chai hot or iced (a decision that depends on the weather, my mood, and whether or not my body is currently wracked by a dorm-induced sickness), coffee seemingly always finds a way to wiggle itself in there. It’s not an exaggeration to say that at least half of the chais I get from Coop are accidental coffee lattes, and I say that because one time I legitimately counted, and two out of the four in one week contained coffee. Further, due to its central location on campus, Coop also has the longest line out of the three sellers so it can be inconvenient for a quick stop. 

2) Fireside: Situated squarely in the middle of the chai list is Fireside, whose typically short lines balance out with its distance from the main campus to create a dining option that is pleasant and consistent. Coffee is scarcely found in Fireside chai lattes, and customers have the option of choosing from a readily displayed list of flavors if they want a little something extra in their cup. If I lived in third-year village, Fireside would be the clear winner out of its sheer convenience, but as an RA living in the dorms, I find myself venturing to Fireside only on the weekends when my favorite establishment is closed. 

1) Tea House: Snatching the first place spot to the surprise of absolutely nobody who knows me is the wonderful Tea House. Open until 3:30 p.m. each day, the Tea House has become such an integral part of my daily routine that I plan my meetings and homework time around my daily 1:15 p.m. visit. The Tea House is centrally located; the line moves disbelievingly fast; coffee never even looks at a chai latte, much less ends up in one; the workers are kind, sweet, and have regular orders memorized. In the holiday months, the Tea House boasts fun flavor options such as pumpkin, butterscotch, and, my personal favorite to add to a chai, gingerbread. Beyond this, the Tea House ratio of milk to chai concentrate in an iced chai is uniquely perfect and balances the two flavors in a way that is neither overpowering nor underwhelming. 

I hope this list can help guide your next caffeine purchase, and remember that while my heart belongs to the Tea House, one thing is for sure: any chai latte is better than none.