Clash of the coffees

Analyzing and comparing the two largest coffee chains in America

From seasonal drinks and flavorful coffee, to delicious snacks, Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts have it covered. Students are often looking for a comfortable place where they can get their work done while enjoying a tasty drink and some food. Though, some question which of the two establishments is better.

For some background knowledge, Starbucks was founded by Jerry Baldwin, Gordon Bowker, and Zev Siegl, opening its first store premiering in 1971 in Seattle. Their coffee beans are mainly imported from various regions in Africa, Latin America, and the Asia-Pacific region. 

Dunkin came into existence when founder William Rosenburg opened his first coffee and donut shop in 1948, in Massachusetts. Two years later Dunkin Donuts was born, rumored that an executive architect for the company came up with the name and was inspired by the idea of dunking donuts into the coffee. Dunkin purchases their coffee beans from Central and South America, and the chain even works with the Rainforest Alliance to make sure its coffee is ethically sourced.

Starbucks, with a whopping 33,830 stores across the country, has a greater variety of drinks and flavors, as well as a greater caffeine quantity in their drinks compared to Dunkin. For example, if you were to buy a cold brew, the caffeine count in the Starbucks drink would be 174 milligrams, versus Dunkin’s cold brew which only has 155 milligrams. Depending on whether you like more caffeine in your coffee—which most do when sleepy or have big due dates coming up—Starbucks is the better choice.

On the other hand, Dunkin Donuts’ coffee and food are cheaper than Starbucks. For example, on UberEats, a Starbucks Caramel Macchiato is 52 cents more than the Dunkin’s. Additionally, Dunkin’s cup sizes (quantities) are larger than Starbucks. I think we can all get behind more coffee for a better price.

Coffee aside, the immediate eye-catcher when you walk into Dunkin Donuts is their amazingly selected, flavorful donuts—something that not even Starbucks could outdo—contributing to some of the superior aspects Dunkin has to offer!

To better understand some key differences between the two chains, I decided to test out a staple drink. Upon trying an iced caramel latte from both chains, I preferred the Starbucks iced caramel macchiato to the Dunkin Donuts iced latte with caramel swirl. The Starbucks latte had a stronger, more prominent coffee flavor, but Dunkin’s had a sweeter, caramel taste. For people who like sweeter coffee, Dunkin’s iced latte with caramel swirl is the perfect drink for you. 

Of the two largest eatery chains in the U.S. that specialize in coffee, Starbucks has more supporters. Of the students at the school that responded to an Instagram poll, 17 out of 23 students answered that they favor Starbucks, leaving only 6 siding with Dunkin. Starbucks is generally known for its high-quality coffee and flavorful food with frequent additions to the menu, but Dunkin is always going to be known for its donuts!

It is difficult to say which of the two is better. It honestly depends on your preferences on food and coffee, but in the popular opinion in the US, Starbucks is looking more promising!


What did you think about this story? Do you have any suggestions for improvements or other articles that you would like to see? Please use the contact form to communicate with us! (Keep all information school-appropriate)