Autumn is my favorite time of year – the leaves are changing, everything is pumpkin flavored, and Taylor Swift is at her most powerful. A fall staple for me is a deliciously sweet and spicy chai latte: primarily as a fashion accessory to carry with me as I stroll aimlessly around Emerson College’s campus, but also because they are the perfect fall drink (yes, even better than pumpkin spice, in my humble opinion).

Because of this chai obsession, I consider myself somewhat of an expert on what makes a good latte, especially when comparing five places within a short walking distance of Emerson’s campus that serve chai lattes. These will be judged based on price, flavor, and the general atmosphere of the place, but also my own personal, very biased opinion.


We must begin with a classic, the Starbucks on the corner of Tremont and Boylston.

A tall chai latte from Starbucks is $4.25, and an extra $0.70 if you get it with oat milk, like I do. The chai from Starbucks is very, very sweet; it’s made from Tazo chai tea concentrate (available by the carton at Target, BTW). Their hot chai is a manageable amount of sweet for me, especially if you’re feeling crazy and want to add an espresso shot and make it dirty for $1.00 extra. The iced, however, borders on cloyingly sweet, and is one I tend to avoid.

But if you’re anything like me and you treat earning stars on the Starbucks app like it’s a full-time job, ordering ahead and getting a hot chai and a cake pop can be an incredibly reliable endorphin booster.

Tatte Bakery

Next is Tatte Bakery, an Emerson staple, a place I love to go to when I want to feel like a successful woman in business who has lots of important work to do (when really I’m just researching chai lattes).

A small chai latte from Tatte is $4.50, and an extra $0.75 for oatmilk. Personally, Tatte has the best chai around; it’s the perfect amount of sweet, spice, and the hot version has a lovely milk foam on top. Tatte’s chai comes from their house-made concentrate, served up from a huge pitcher behind the coffee bar.

The only con to Tatte’s chai is that if you’re sensitive to caffeine, or want to avoid the…shall we say…laxative effects of coffee, stay far away from this drink. It’ll send you racing to the bathroom after three glorious sips.

Thinking Cup

Thinking Cup is a cozy little spot, perfect for a rainy fall day. It’s a great cafe for reading, going on a first date, eavesdropping on somebody having a first date at the table next to you, or using up all of your phone’s data making a personal hotspot to do work on your laptop (because for some reason they don’t have WiFi there).

A small chai from Thinking Cup is $4.00, and an extra $0.80 for oatmilk. It has a lovely balance of sweet and spice, and the hot version’s milk foam is topped with fresh cinnamon.

The only downside is I find it tends to be a little on the watery side, and personally, I’m not a huge fan of the food at Thinking Cup; but if you’re looking strictly for a solid chai and a cozy atmosphere, Thinking Cup is your best bet.


Bakey has become a newer go-to spot for me. It opened last spring, and has delicious freshly-made pastries, and excellent coffee. They have a great deal where if you get a pastry and a coffee, you can get both for a discounted price (this discount unfortunately does not apply to chai, though).

Chai from Bakey only comes in one size, comparable to a grande from Starbucks; it’s $5.25, and an extra $0.50 for oatmilk. Bakey’s chai is certainly sweet, but the iced is still a manageable amount for me. Really, the only downside is that it is by far the most expensive option around Emerson’s campus, however, you get far more chai in their cup size, so it evens out to getting a good bang for your buck.

Caffe Nero

Caffe Nero is an extremely convenient spot for those living in and around Paramount, as it is quite literally a hop, skip, and a jump across Washington Street. It is gorgeous inside, looking almost like a movie set’s version of a coffee shop.

A small chai from Caffe Nero is $4.90, and an extra $0.85 for oatmilk. Caffe Nero’s chai is actually not a favorite of mine, simply because it’s a bit milk-heavy for my taste, leaving it lacking in flavor.

That being said, the foam on the hot chai is delightful and airy, and the food there is quite good, making it a great option for a weekend brunch or a snack between classes. Caffe Nero has a 25% discount for students when you order through their app, however a heads-up: the app can sometimes be finicky and not go through on their end, so just be wary of that.


Here’s the TLDR of this guide:

Cheapest: Thinking Cup

Best hot chai: Starbucks (especially with an espresso shot)

Best iced chai: Tatte

Best atmosphere: Thinking Cup