The Search for the Best Chai Latte

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The Search for the Best Chai Latte

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Masala Chai, meaning “blended spices” originated in India and is now commonly known as chai tea. A chai tea latte consists mostly of black tea and steamed milk, infused with spices like cinnamon and clove. Although chai began halfway across the globe, it is known for being a staple of many coffeehouses and cafes in America. A great chai latte has the perfect mixture of spicy and sweet elements.

Through my passion of chai tea lattes, I made it my mission to discover the best in La Crosse. Here is my review of each place I visited over the course of one chai-filled week.

My first stop was MOKA in Onalaska. It’s a small, simple outdoor drive-through, so the atmosphere depends almost entirely on the weather when you visit. One of the great things about MOKA’s chai latte is the sprinkle of spices they add on top of the drink. I personally really enjoy lots of spice in my chai latte. Another thing that stands out about MOKA’s drink is how milky it is. There’s not much of a black tea taste there, so it almost tastes like cinnamon-flavored milk. If you’re not fan of a lot of tea flavor, I would recommend the MOKA chai tea latte!

A few days later, I visited Javavino. I had heard many good things, but was surprised by the lovely atmosphere. I ordered my second iced chai tea and admired the scenery as I waited for my drink. I picked up my latte and as I began walking out to my car, I took the first sip. The drink was sweet, but less sweet when compared to MOKA’s. There was a noticeable and pleasant taste of black tea in the drink. The cinnamon and spice were quite noticeable as well, and it did not have much of a milky flavor. I would say it was a very balanced chai latte: it had a good mixture of flavors.

Next, I arrived at Cool Beans. I ordered yet another chai tea and went on my way. Cool Beans’ chai latte stuck out from all of the others I had tried. The black tea taste was much stronger, as well as the taste of the spices. You couldn’t taste much of the milk. It was somewhat similar to Javavino’s, with a more prevalent tea flavor. I recommend this one for all of the tea-lovers out there.

Finally, I headed to The Root Note. The cafe has a comforting, familiar atmosphere. It’s filled with local artwork, leafy green plants, and natural light coming from the windows.  I ordered my last chai latte and sat down. The first sip was a familiar taste I had gotten very used to that week. The taste of the black tea was pleasantly noticeable. It had a nice, subtle taste of cinnamon. It was similar to Javavino’s because of the tea flavor, but much less sweet. I think one of the best thing about The Root Note’s chai latte is the balance of flavors. Nothing was too overpowering, but every element was clearly there. I had found my winner.

Chai Lattes might not be for everyone, and I’m sure that tastes vary from person to person as well. Some like it sweeter, while others want to taste the tea. Personally, I think what makes a great chai latte is the combination of elements within the drink. The sweet, the spicy, and everything in between. I would highly recommend taking a trip to The Root Note and picking up an iced chai latte if you’re ever in town.


MOKA: 9348 WI-16, Onalaska, WI 54650

Javavino: 2311 State Rd, La Crosse, WI 54601

Cool Beans: 1221 La Crosse St, La Crosse, WI 54601

The Root Note: 115 4th St S, La Crosse, WI 54601