Chai’s gone dirty


Linda Manzo

Simone’s impressive dirty chai, aesthetically posed just moments before being reviewed.

Linda Manzo, Writer

As many high school students, including myself, are well aware, sometimes coffee is a necessity for powering through the day. Balancing the regular weekday of school, sports and extracurriculars can become tiring; a dirty chai is the perfect pick-me-up. A dirty chai is a regular chai drink, preferably iced, with an added shot of espresso. With less caffeine than a harmful Celsius and the perfect fall flavor of the fan-favorite chai, a dirty chai grants an assurance of pleasure on the taste buds. I invited my fellow dirty chai connoisseur Madison “Madi” Thompson ‘23 to scour Ventura County for the best dirty chai. 


Starbucks (Telegraph and Day): $5.95

Madi: “The ratio is always good. Telegraph and Day is the place to be. Now I feel fabulous, ready to take on the day. The chai ratio, as usual, is perfect. Absolute perfection. All is right in the world. Ten out of ten. Always. I feel ready to take on this day and it’s all because of the Starbucks on Telegraph and Day. The only complaint that I have is that they don’t know how to close a lid.” 10/10


Linda: “Sometimes us Dragons need some fire… this is our fire. Telegraph and Day has the most consistent dirty chai, in the sense that if you’re looking for “Old Faithful”, it’s going to be here. Extra point for consistency throughout the many dirty chai acquisitions.” 10/10

Camarillo’s Dunkin’ Donuts delights customers with their dirty chai. (Linda Manzo)


Dunkin Doughnuts: $4.95

Madi: “That’s… mmmm… it doesn’t have as much flavor… definitely less flavorful. It’s good though, I can taste the dirt. If you had tried this before, like without the dirt then you would be able to tell the difference, without it, it’s milky, but not too much, it’s still like ‘I could get down with this.’” 7.7/10


Linda: “It’s really good…a little milky… a definite six out of ten. I think the ratio is just off and makes the chai feel like more of a chai-flavored drink rather than an actual chai. I can’t taste the dirt.” 6/10


The dirty chai from Coffee Bean placed with a plethora of prepackaged coffee for home enjoyment. (Linda Manzo)

Coffee Bean: $5.25

Madi: “It’s surprisingly good. It’s not great, the chai isn’t very good. This is a six. Maybe a six and a half. It tastes like a gingerbread or Christmas Bath and Body Works candle. It’s not bad, but compared to the other ones, this is the weakest one. I stand by that. Short. Sweet. Right to the point.” 6/10


Linda: “It’s definitely dirty. First of all, I would like to say that I love the Coffee Bean ice. The chai… I’ve definitely had better. It’s mediocre. There’s nothing outstanding about it, it’s a solid chai. I love the ratio. I hate it when it’s too milky, but when it’s too strong, it just tastes weird, but it does have a pretty good ratio. However, there’s nothing crazy about it that would bring me into Coffee Bean particularly for a dirty chai.” 6.5/10


Rabalais’ Bistro: $7.00

Rabalais’ dirty chai, posed with the historic downtown of Santa Paula. (Linda Manzo)

Madi: “Oh… that’s kinda good. The cinnamon makes it so much better. That’s delicious. I think it’s the chai in it that makes it so good. You know how the Simone’s one was so good because of the coffee in it? This one is good because of the chai. And I stand by that. I’m not going to lie, it tastes like horchata, I think it’s because of the cinnamon. It’s more of a dirty horchata. Can we make one of those?” 8.5/10


Linda: “Honestly… after a while they’re all starting to taste the same. This one does have a delectable addition of cinnamon sprinkled on top, which is giving horchata if I’m honest. Pretty solid, I think because of the added cinnamon on top, it really gives it that edge. But I think it’s because I know that Rabalais’ is having a good day today. There have been times where I’ve gone and they’re not feeling it that day. You spend seven dollars on a drink and you’re like ‘well… this is it’. They’re a little unreliable, it’s a little hit or miss. But it’s really good today. I don’t think that it’s too milky or that the coffee is too strong, I think that it’s a really good ratio right now, super enjoyable.” 8.5/10


Simone’s: $5.50

Upon arriving home, the Coffee Bean dirty chai slipped, causing my driveway to get dirty. (Linda Manzo)

Madi: “I’ve never had a dirty chai from here. That’s one of the best dirty chai’s I’ve ever had in my life; it’s perfect. That beats every dirty chai we’ve ever had. I think that Starbucks doesn’t use very good coffee, their roast is fine, but this is impeccable. Simone’s espresso is impeccable, mixed with a really good base of chai, oh my god. It’s the perfect combination. It has to be a medium or dark roast. This dirty chai is not for the faint of heart. You have to actually enjoy the flavors of a good espresso, a good coffee to really enjoy this chai.” 10/10


Linda: “Honestly, this is a flawless dirty chai. I was really intimidated by the color, because most of the time you can tell how a dirty chai is going to taste from its color and consistency, and this one does look a little watery, but it absolutely has the best flavor. You can taste the roast, it’s definitely a darker coffee, especially for it still being a chai. It’s definitely a ten for those who enjoy coffee, if you don’t enjoy the taste of coffee it’s going to deter you from this chai.” 10/10


Overall: After reviewing dirty chai’s from around Ventura County, Madi and I discovered what we already knew, the best is right in our backyard. The Starbucks on the corner of Telegraph and Day road provides Foothill Technology High School (Foothill Tech) students with a sense of trust that when ordering a dirty chai, a perfect blend of dirt and chai will be provided. Just down the street, off Kimball road, Simone’s gives all of Ventura the perfect dirty chai. Taking first place, Simone’s ability to create an “impeccable” drink at a reasonable price is perfect for fellow dirty chai connoisseurs and rookies alike.

What do you think?