Starbucks vs. Dunkin Donuts – An Overtired Mom’s Pointless Observations

In my 10 years as a coffee drinker I have learned that there are three types of people in the world. People who drink Dunkin’ Donuts, people who drink Starbucks, and people who don’t have young kids.


I know this because people who have young kids:

1. need coffee on approximately the same level as they need oxygen

2. only purchase coffee at places with drive thrus

3. don’t purchase coffee at drive thrus that also serve happy meals (commence screaming and whining for small plastic toys that will later be stepped on barefoot or consumed by the family dog and later removed by the emergency vet for approximately $460)

This leaves Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts – or home for people with $300 espresso machines and microwaves.

I’m generally a DD person (being born and raised in New England, this is pretty much a prerequisite), but I do occasionally go to Starbucks for their Chocolate Banana Espresso protein smoothie, which isn’t on the menu but is available as part of some “secret” menu which is just another reason why Starbucks needs to pull their overpriced g-string out of their arse and take a freakin’ seat. You are a coffee shop, not a secret society.

But I digress.

The people who go to Dunkin Donuts purchase things like “extra large hot coffee black” or “medium iced caramel latte, 5 creams 4 sugars.” The cups come in small, medium and large and if you ask for something “skinny” you will get a response to the effect of “is that a water or something, honey?”

Basically, people who go to Dunkin are looking for the closest thing to a caffeine IV, or coffee ice cream, melted in a cup.

Coffee Milk

At Starbucks, on the other hand, if you order an extra large coffee black someone will ask you which kind – did you want the Seattle seagrass blonde or the Carribbean coast dark roast? The Starbucks menu puts the Cheesecake Factory menu to shame.


I once went to Starbucks with a client who ordered a “tall hot blonde.” My boss, who doesn’t speak Starbucks, laughed like it was some kind of joke. The barista was impossibly confused. “Do you want the coffee or not?” she asked. “Grande or venti? And is that with cream, milk, skim, soy, or unicorn tears? Half caf or full? Sugar, splenda or Stevia? And did you want a flavor shot with that? There are 63 choices.”

My boss, looking somewhat stunned, rephrased the order. “Hot coffee in a cup please.” 

The barista twirled a blonde dreadlock between her fingers and glanced back at the menu, trying to figure out if they served that. 

While Starbucks certainly doesn’t cater to the old-school crowd, they have plenty of options for those trying to lose weight. All of their drinks are available skinny (i.e. with skim milk) and some even come in “mini,” which is basically a shot glass. Starbucks also offers fat free, sugar free flavor shots which so far as I can tell are made out of air and ex-lax, perfect for those trying to drop a few LBs without giving up their half caf skinny mini caramel soy latte, extra whip.

Screen Shot 2016-08-28 at 2.35.58 PM

While my typical “coffee” order (small chai with almond milk) is somewhere in between…too pedestrian for starbucks, too yuppy for DD…I find myself still drawn to the flickering, pink and orange lights of Dunkin. The bird stained signs and perpetual proximity to Walmart and used car dealerships is strangely comforting to a New England girl in socially acceptable sweatpants and day-old spit up down her back.


The smoothies are better at Starbucks but the dress code at Dunkin is much more my speed.

Especially at the drive thru.




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