Marin has mastered matcha, or have they? By Keely Ganong

The matcha latte; found most frequently in the hands of local trend followers, the sage green beverage is running up the ranks to become Marin’s most wanted caffeinated temptation. The unique, grassy and green tea blend is milky and sometimes sweet, giving consumers a subtle jump of energy to carry them through the day. The flavor delivers some contention upon initial reaction but can rightfully be defended as an “acquired taste.” The most seasoned matcha connoisseurs are able to grasp the complex flavor palette that a matcha latte offers. I, a somewhat seasoned connoisseur, took the task of scavenging Marin for the best iced matcha latte on the market. The results were astounding.

Equator: 4.5/5

In my early matcha drinking days, Equator was my go-to spot. This habit soon waned as I started to calculate the damage my frequent purchases had on my debit card balance. I returned from my hiatus to Equator Coffees on assignment. I ordered the fabled iced matcha latte in their only size: 16 oz. My drink was prepared relatively quickly and hit my wallet with a startling $5.50, not including tip. Despite the costly receipt, the drink was delightful. Undeniably smooth, the gentle matcha blended flawlessly with the accompanying creamy whole milk and offered the perfect level of sweetness. The thick and velvety latte produced a lingering aftertaste that was pleasantly sweet and earthy. However, Equator’s distinctive large cubed ice was a source of disappointment; the excessively sized ice cubes took away from the beverage and would have been more fulfilling if smaller and more abundant. After a few minutes, my cup was empty, and I was satisfied. Equator Coffee’s iced matcha latte does not miss, although its price tag could be adjusted to be more affordable.

Starbucks: 4/5

Starbucks was next on my list. A much more generic and accessible option, I didn’t expect anything too special. I ordered my 16 oz iced matcha latte and paid $4.75 without tip, a considerable price difference compared to the last latte. The wait time was somewhat long, but eventually, my name was called, and I eagerly brought my drink outside to conduct a taste test. With my first sip, I was hit with a sensation of sweetness. However, underneath that immediate collision of sugar the flavor developed to be a much stronger matcha taste than I would have expected.

The negatives soon arrived in the drink’s consistency; rather than the smooth and silky texture that Equator’s matcha presented, Starbucks’ matcha ended up being somewhat grainy towards the later sips. A more even mix would have eliminated this misfortune but that level of care and accuracy can’t always be guaranteed with a large franchise like Starbucks. Even with the textural flaws, I mostly enjoyed my drink. Recycling my cup, I was content with how this matcha had satisfied my craving for a solid latte at a good price.

Coffee Roastery: 3/5

A third contender was visited soon after: San Anselmo Coffee Roastery. Here my 16 oz iced matcha latte came out to be $4.95 without a tip. The drink was ready impressively fast and I prepared myself to study the flavor with focus. What I discovered tasted like a refreshingly simple matcha latte. The light milky consistency rolled onto my tongue with ease and was softened with a thick layer of foam. The Coffee Roastery matcha did an excellent job of mastering the creamy lightness feel but lacked in sweetness. Tailored to customers with mature taste buds, this matcha latte incorporated only a faint taste of sugar. In hindsight, I believe that more can be done to this latte to elevate San Anselmo Coffee Roastery’s edition.

Marin Coffee Roasters: 2/5

The last stop on my journey to find the best matcha latte was Marin Coffee Roasters. I placed my matcha order paying a total of $4.40 without tip. Coming in at the lowest price of all the matchas I had sampled, I carefully readied myself to see what Marin Coffee Roasters had to offer. What I found was somewhat upsetting. Running through the back of my mind were the phrases I used to encounter by naive matcha haters, “It tastes like grass!”, “I’m not a cow!” This matcha latte did not do a good job of refuting that matcha slander. The beverage was much too milky and featured a tidal wave of grass flavor. It lacked any sort of sweetness to balance out the taste and was a little boring for my liking. Similar to the Starbucks latte, I found this matcha to be inconsistent and was disappointed that it had not been mixed more thoroughly. In my final sips, I stared at my reflection in the clean window pane, unsatisfied.

Concluding my search and scavenge for Marin’s best matcha, I take away an important lesson from my journey: no two matchas are the same. Between ranging tastes and consistencies, ice cube shape and creaminess, there’s a lot to consider. My personal favorite is the iced matcha latte from Equator.