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Christmas is in the air for Java junkies
Heather Elkins of The Bean and Leaf Café whips up a holiday-themed drink for a customer. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL
It’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas at Manteca coffee shops.

The scent of coffee beans and steamed milk are now being replaced with peppermint and gingerbread. Makeshift menus designed to let customers know that the special holiday-flavored drinks are being replaced by permanent ones. Even the food menu is changing to adapt to the holiday spirit.

And for the baristas behind the bar, the familiar flavorings that typically fill the cups of customers are taking on a whole new tinge.

“They’re really blowing up right now,” said Bean and Leaf Café owner Heather Elkins. “We just had to put our coffee order in today to make sure that we have enough on hand, and we’re already running out of pumpkin pie – we’re supposed to get more next week.”

Inside of the quaint coffee shop that Elkins purchased after spending years an employee and adding her own personal touches as she evolved into the world of ownership, the hand-painted menus will soon advertise the holiday treats that have recently become available.

Even those that are available year-round like Chai tea – a drink that originated in India that blends the traditional regional tea with milk to create a spicy and sweet concoction – are getting more interest now that the temperature is dropping.
“A lot of people
mistake it as a holiday drink because of the spices, but it’s something that we serve year-round and is really popular,” Elkins said. “It’s a nice addition to the peppermint mochas – which is probably our most popular drink this time around.”

One customer begs to differ.

For Kelly Mraz, the reading on the thermometer doesn’t indicate when it’s time for her Chai tea – noting that Bean and Leaf makes “the best in the city.”

“It’s a lot like cider where it has the spices and the cinnamon flavorings, and it’s great when it’s served hot,” Mraz said. “I just love it, and now that it’s cold it’s an even better reason to enjoy it.”
Over at Café Aroma, owner Tippy Phonpiadith is gearing up for her own holiday rush by offering drinks flavored with peppermint, egg nog, and ginger spice – not to mention the classic Chai tea that she says customers have taken a liking to with the recent cold weather.

“Sometimes people are scared to try something different – they stick with what they like,” Phonpiadith said. “But once they try that one new thing then they’ve found something else that they love – that’s their new drink. That’s what it’s like with the holiday flavors.”

The Bean and Leaf Café is located at 1254 W. Lathrop Road, and can be reached at 239-2326. Café Aroma is located at 1499 W. Yosemite Ave., and can be reached at 824-9978.