Battle of the Bean: Dunkin Donuts vs Starbucks vs McDonalds

August 16, 2011 in Editorial


Deciding where to get coffee can be a daunting task. Should one stick with the tried and trusted combination of Donuts and Coffee? Or is it time to upgrade to the more expensive Starbucks? And where does McCafé fit into all this? You could always turn to the professionals and look at online reviews. But which one to believe? Consumer Reports believes that McDonald’s offering is “flawless”. Yet The Saint Petersburg Times concludes that it tastes “like it had cooked on a burner”. Centives decided to conduct a meta-analysis of all the reviews that had evaluated the three chains against each other, in an effort to come up with a definitive answer to the question: Who brews the best coffee? Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks or McDonalds?

Centives found five credible, independent sources that had compared the three brews (see our source list below). We then went through each review and noted down which brand was ranked first, second and third, relative to each other. Starting with the lowest ranked we have:

3 – Dunkin Donuts


Coming in last place with an average rating of 2.2 was the café offering from Dunkin Donuts. Daily Finance and The Chicago Sun Times both agree that it is the worst of the bunch using descriptors such as “gross” and “too watery” to criticize the beverage. Slate Magazine was the one outlier, ranking it as the best among the three.

2 – McCafé

With an average rating of 2.0, McCafé barely edged ahead of Dunkin Donuts to take second place. The St. Petersburg Times gives it its most scathing review stating that “its chief flaw was its weakness and lack of nuance”. On the other hand Consumer Reports thinks that it is the best of the bunch, concluding in its report that “McDonalds Wins” the premium coffee wars.

1- Starbucks

An average rating of 1.4 clearly paints Starbucks as the true victor of the Caffeine Conflict. 60% of the studies reviewed rate it as the most delightful blend with praise ranging from “Delish!” to “Unanimous Favourite” being heaped on the venerable old chain.


Sources (with relative rankings in parenthesis):

Chicago Sun Times

(1st: Starbucks, 2nd: McCafé 3rd: Dunkin Donuts)

Consumer Reports – March 2007

(1st: McCafé, tie for 2nd: Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks)

Daily Finance

(1st:Starbucks, 2nd: McCafé, 3rd: Dunkin Donuts)


(1st: Dunkin Donuts, tie for 2nd: McCafé, Starbucks)

St. Petersburg Times
(1st: Starbucks, 2nd: Dunkin Donuts, 3rd: McCafé)


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