How can I tell the Christmas season is nearly upon us? Well, the first clue is my Instagram news feed - almost overnight, it has filled up with rosy-tinted photos of people's little red cups from Starbucks (and by people's, I mean mine).
Heads literally turn as people strut past with their red cups, lapping up the coffee envy that is inevitably thrown their way by passers-by. 'I gotta get me one of those', I think, and before you can say Gingerbread Latte, I've made a quick detour and turned left into Starbucks.
But once I get the the counter, I hit a problem. Which to order?
Choosing your Christmas coffee is something of a Russian Roulette situation. With risky flavours in the mix like eggnog, orange and forest fruits (why?), you really don't want to get it wrong.
So, being the season of goodwill and all, I've roped in some help and between my friends and I, we've tried most of the coffees on offer...
So there you go.
I've also had the Eggnog Latte which I suspect might be a bit of a grower. Topped with nutmeg, it was sweet, thick and creamy but, dare I say it, a bit eggy. Which isn't really what I look for in a coffee.
My advice is go for the classic sweet and spicy Gingerbread Latte and you can't go far wrong - especially if you ask them to use their Christmas Espresso blend, a smooth and subtly caramelly addition to even the blandest Americano. Delightful.
The Nero Christmas experience is altogether much more tasteful than its brasher rivals. Even the gingerbread men are classy (Ginger Giovanni, anyone?).
There are only three Christmas coffees on offer at Nero and they are predictably grown-up - Roasted Chestnut Latte, Praline Latte and Amaretto Latte.
I ordered the latter and was a bit disappointed by the comparatively ordinary blue cup that I was presented with. But then, to my utter delight, a little gold foil-wrapped praline was placed on the counter next to my coffee - and Nero are so back in the game.
Oh and the coffee itself was, of course, delicious, with a distinctive marzipan flavour. But that is almost beside the point - it was never really about the coffee. It's about the experience.
A well-timed Christmas coffee just seems to make everything better, from cold Tuesday morning commutes to manic Oxford Street shopping excursions. It's hard not to feel comforted by the cosy refuge from the chilly city streets, and the feeling of warming your cold hands around that little red cup.
In a (toffee) nutshell? This craze is simply about the countdown to Christmas. Yes it's still November, but resistance is futile. Accept your fate and embrace the Christmas coffees.