Sugar High: Novo peppermint mocha

Black Friday is upon us. Whether you're nuts and arrived at stores pre-dawn to snag the deals, or you're a stay-away-from-the-malls-at-all-costs type, everyone can benefit from a little caffeine boost after a day of carb-loading. If you're near downtown, where better to fuel up than at Novo Coffee?

The Denver-based coffee bar offers three festive, espresso-based drinks this holiday season: an eggnog latte, a pumpkin spice latte and a peppermint mocha. Suckers that we are for a good chocolate mint mix, we went with the latter. Our barista, Johanna, gave our selection a thumbs up. "I'm not usually a fan of the sweet holiday drinks, but this one's good," she said, and scooped a few teaspoons of a glittery pink powder -- ground peppermint candies -- into the bottom of the cup. To that she added a dark chocolate syrup and fresh espresso shots, then topped it off with the perfect proportions of milk and creamy foam.

The espresso is a house blend, which is a departure from the single origin espresso Novo specializes in. Johanna considers herself a huge fan of the blend. "It works well in every drink, which is rare," she said. "It's especially good with chocolate, which can be finicky."

Our mocha was a delight. The candy powder imparted a clean peppermint burst that was much lighter than a flavored syrup you might find at another coffee shop, and the dark chocolate mixed well with the espresso. The result was a drink that had a full coffee flavor without being weighed down with an overpowering sugary edge. And if the shoving Black Friday crowds already have you on edge, you can even get the drink sans caffeine, as a minty hot chocolate.

Still, no matter how you get this drink, you'll be supporting a local coffeehouse in lieu of Starbucks. That should make you feel better about downing the third shot of espresso that comes standard in the 16-ounce drinks.

Novo Coffee 1200 Acoma Street

Peppermint mocha 8-ounce: $3.00 12-ounce: $3.00 16-ounce: $4.00 20-ounce: $4.50

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