I had hoped this day would never come—the day when the sacrality and integrity of Britain’s beloved mince pies would be compromised.
But that fateful day has come. The mince pie flat white has descended upon our hot drinks menus; turning this bastion of tradition into little more than a gimmick.
Could this abomination of a beverage become the British equivalent to the all-American pumpkin spice latte?
Pret A Manger is behind the “Festive Flat White,” a beverage it claims to “capture” the “special flavour” of the mince pie. Much like the PSL, the FFW is made using Pret’s “very own Mince Pie syrup.”
For those unfamiliar with the concept of a mince pie, it’s a small pie brimming with fruits and spices—a.k.a. mincemeat—that’s long been eaten in the UK in the weeks and months before Christmas. But, after centuries of baking mince pies in their standard form, people are starting to do unthinkable things to mince pies. In October, I was dismayed to discover that the bakery Paul is attempting to make “mince pie croissants” happen — that is, a British version of the cronut. And, one bakery in Cornwall even had a go at making a mincemeat and custard pasty. It is becoming a gimmick—much like America’s obsession with pumpkin spice.
Whatever happened to just enjoying the simple and delicious pleasure of a mince pie in the way it was intended: encased in pastry, warmed in the oven and then drizzled with single cream.
This mince pie-infused coffee is a bridge too far.
“Added to our Flat White, it’s the taste of Christmas in an 8oz cup,” claims Pret. Well, after going along to my nearest branch of Pret, I can confirm that the FFW does not taste like Christmas in an 8oz cup. Far from it, in fact.
I—along with my esteemed colleagues—entered this endeavour with an open mind, despite being a mince pie purist to my core. First, we gave the hot drink a good ol’ sniff to see if it savoured of the mince pie’s signature spicy sweetness. It did not.
Despite the saccharine sweet odour, we powered through and sipped the FFW. It did not taste like Christmas, or mince pies, for that matter. One colleague said the taste reminded him of “warm chewing gum,” and another said it tasted like Baileys but without the alcohol.
“It’s kind of like a watery liqueur,” said our Senior Culture Reporter Sam Haysom, who gave it an initial rating of 4/10. This rating plummeted as he continued to sip, however.
“To be honest, the more I drink the lower the rating gets. I’m halfway in and we’re down to a 2,” he told me. He ceased imbibing with a third of the drink remaining, citing “not just indifference,” but “actual disgust” as his reason for stopping.
Let’s just quit while we’re ahead, folks. It’s impossible to replicate the nectary goodness of the mince pie in a hot drink. And, hey, if you love mince pies so much, why not just pop down to Sainsbury’s and buy a box?
Don’t let the mince pie become the British pumpkin spice. Let’s keep this scrumptious seasonal treat sacred and pure.