Dunkin Donuts And McDonald's Try To Steal Starbucks' Business Today With Cheap And Free Coffee

In order to capitalize on all Starbucks being closed today for retraining, Dunkin Donuts is selling $.99 espressos today from 1 to 10pm. And if you’re lucky enough to live in Chicago, they’re giving away free small lattes. Not to be outdone, Houston area McDonald’s are giving away free medium iced coffees from 5-9pm, precisely when all Starbucks will be shut down nationwide. Too bad all three chains taste like crap.

(Photo: Seth W.)

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  1. latormenta says:

    And Starbucks doesn’t taste like crap?

  2. beavis88 says:

    McDonald’s coffee is actually palatable these days if you’re in a pinch. Don’t dis the Green Mountain Coffee Roasters! I certainly prefer it to Starbucks.

  3. Pupator says:

    The McDonald’s iced coffee is actually pretty good. Just make sure they go super light on the flavored syrup.

  4. sickofthis says:

    I’m not a coffee drinker, but I’ve heard good things about DD’s coffee.

  5. Steve Trachsel, Ace says:

    @tmccartney: When I was working mornings I started every day with a Large DD black coffee. I dont know about the rest of their stuff, but the regular coffee is tasty (and a good value)

  6. @tmccartney: I wish I could have a cup of their coffee that didn’t taste burnt. I have tried many times at many locations, and every cup tasted like a log out of a fireplace.

  7. itsallme says:

    Or, support a locally owned shop. Most likely there’s one within a stone’s throw away.
    [consumerist.com]

  8. Ben Popken says:

    Gorilla coffee in Brooklyn RULES. Everything else is tepid dishwater in comparison.

  9. PinkBox says:

    @latormenta: Ben said three chains – that includes Starbucks. ;)

  10. smythe says:

    @latormenta: Reread the post, it says “too bad all three chains taste like crap” Starbucks included

  11. Falconfire says:

    McDs and Dunkin Donuts actually have pretty decently brewed coffee compared to Starbucks. They wouldnt be retraining Starbucks button monkeys if they wherent scared that they where losing business to the other chains.

  12. Mojosan says:

    DD and McDonalds coffee are both good. Starbucks regular coffee is too strong for me, but their espresso drinks are far better than DD’s.

    The main issue with McDonalds (and to a lesser extent DD) is that the coffee is not always fresh. At Starbucks it is always fresh.

    Sorry, I know I’m not one of the cool kids if I say anything other than “StArBuXD SuXor!!!” but that’s the way I feel. Starbuck’s Americanos are smooth and delicious. And I’m a person who makes coffee at home using a Kona pour over vacuum pot.

  13. loganmo says:

    Starbucks coffee tastes like burnt rat fur. I think both McDonalds and DD have decent coffee if drip is all you can access (although I hate how @ DD you can’t put the cream in yourself!)

  14. Diet-Orange-Soda says:

    The Dunkin’ Donuts whole bean you can get at the grocery store is great. It’s the cheapest stuff I’ve found that I can enjoy drinking black.

  15. Chols says:

    Is it acceptable to drink Starbucks when you don’t pay for it?

  16. morganlh85 says:

    @latormenta: Um…they said all THREE chains. Try reading it again.

  17. morganlh85 says:

    As a former Starbucks employee, I’d say McDonald’s coffee is pretty alright. It sucked at the beginning, I’ll attribute that to learning curve. But out of curiosity I tried some the other day and it was good. I think their coffee’s appeal is because of the sweetness. It was almost too sweet for me, and the last time I had it it was WAY too sweet for me, but that’s American tastes for you, and that’s why many people don’t like Starbucks coffee, because the flavor is a lot more light.

  18. JPropaganda says:

    I actually really like Dunkin Donut’s coffee

  19. cybercjh says:

    I get iced coffee @ McDs. It’s really good. But, I don’t get any syrup put into it. I just like iced coffee w/ cream. That’s it. I watched them a few times make a large iced coffee for someone else. They filled the plastic cup with ice, pumped in syrup about 1/3 of the way up the cup, filled up the second 1/3 with cream and the final 1/3 with coffee. I’m sure iced coffees isn’t supposed to be made with three equal parts of syrup, cream and coffee. Isn’t it supposed to be mostly coffee with a little cream and syrup to taste? It grossed me out.

  20. latormenta says:

    @smythe: Ok ok ok SORRY guys! THREE chains. My mistake!

  21. JPropaganda says:

    @Ben Popken: Hey now, the MUD trucks throughout NYC are pretty darn good as well.

  22. Alpine75 says:

    @Mojosan:

    A few years ago McDonald’s changed how they brew coffee, they brew a new pot every hour. At least they are supposed to every hour. I’ve been inside many McDonald’s that put a sticky note attached to the pots with the time written down to show what time they put the new pot out.

    I actually think McDonald’s coffee is way better than Starbuck’s coffee. The only thing Starbuck’s is much better at of course is specialty drinks like latte’s, etc.

  23. floyderdc says:

    Let’s open the flood gates for “local chain” in 1.2.3.

  24. thewriteguy says:

    I rarely ever drink any coffee beverages while at Starbucks — usually tea or one of the bottled sodas they sell. I just use the Sbux to log onto the Internet and to read The Consumerist (among other sites). :~)

  25. Mojosan says:

    Alpine75, I agree. McD’s coffee is good, but I often find that, unless you go in the mornings, it’s usually not fresh.

    Also, McDonalds has the best cup/lid combo. It’s a very rigid coated styrofoam. Really keeps it hot and doesn’t require a cup-condom.

  26. forgottenpassword says:

    i liked dunkin donuts’ donuts way back maybe 15 years ago…. before they all closed down around here. There is just no decent alternative that filled the void. Just small donut shops that werent anything special & the horrid krispy kreme overly-sugarry horridness that could send you into a diabetic coma.

    Lamar’s donuts is the only barely decent chain around here that is a specifically offering donuts. They are “ok”, but hardly anything special. I’d rather die than eat a too-sugarry krispy kreme donut. Blech!

  27. apotheosis says:

    Folgers.

    Black.

  28. monkey33 says:

    @forgottenpassword: Lamar’s in Kansas City? I used to love the one at 11th and Main that the health department shut down a few years ago. My mom and I would split a donut covered in Snickers.

    I was pleasantly surprised the last time I had McDonald’s coffee (during the Holidays). Not too dark of roast, and brewed about right. The cups that never get hot freak me out, though.

  29. rustyni says:

    Won’t drink McDonald’s. Tastes like crap. Won’t do Dunkin Donuts, unless I’m having a fat kid day, and want to jump up my sugar intake. Starbucks works just fine for me. My drinks are never too sweet, and the coffee is always fresh.

  30. BSAKat says:

    @floyderdc:
    You say that like it’s a bad thing. I’d rather support a locally owned business than a chain, and that goes for everything from lumber yards to record stores to restaurants to coffee shops. Money put back into the community is good for everyone.

  31. bohemian says:

    I noticed a drop in consistency and quality when Starbucks went to the automated machines in some of their locations.
    I can usually find somewhere else to get a coffee other than Starbucks. We have a couple other chains, but some of our local places are worse than Starbucks.

  32. chiieddy says:

    I like Dunkin Donuts coffee. But I live in the Boston area. It’s required. :)

  33. Traveshamockery says:

    Ben, where did you find the information about the free Iced Coffee at McDonalds? Their website doesn’t show it, and I can’t find that information anywhere else. Please confirm – I don’t want to get choked by my co-workers after I send them down to McDonald’s today and I’m wrong.

  34. apotheosis says:

    Oh, and I’d echo the Lamar’s Donut love.

    Don’t know about their coffee, but their donuts were the best.

  35. jamar0303 says:

    @BSAKat: I’m in Shanghai, China. Unfortunately, all the locally-owned places here seem intent on copying Starbucks (down to the logo sometimes).

    At least the Starbucks here haven’t closed for retraining. Of course, they do it right to begin with (well, I get espresso on ice in a Tall cup and then fill the rest with soy milk).

  36. Kurtz says:

    @apotheosis: Disgusting. You’ve got to be kidding – that stuff is like drinking creosote.

  37. mac-phisto says:

    i wouldn’t buy the double d outside of connecticut (ESPECIALLY not in philly – that water may be good for hoagie rolls, but it kills double d coffee), but up here the coffee’s great. i think a lot has to do with the rules here: brewed coffee is expected to be dumped out if it sits longer than 5 minutes. there’s only one shop that i know doesn’t follow that rule (b/c their coffee tastes like battery acid).

    the only place i like more is a local shop that has honey on the fixins shelf (purportedly for tea, but honey is great in everything) & they occasionally have dominican coffee brewed, which beats the hell out of most coffee out there.

  38. Steve Trachsel, Ace says:

    @BSAKat: You realize of course that most McDonalds and DDs are locally owned franchises right?

  39. smoothtom says:

    The cool kids say Starbucks sucks? Damn, I must’ve tuned out. Anyway, I’m no cool kid, and I say Starbucks sucks. Dunkin’ Donuts isn’t bad though. But some of the best coffee I’ve had comes from our local coffee house here in my central Ohio town … they get it from Stauf’s, a great little coffee place near Columbus.

  40. TeraGram says:

    I’m pretty sure that the reason cops got the reputation as “donut eaters” is because they hung out at Dunkin’ Donuts. As a cop’s daughter, I can tell you that it was more for the coffee than the donuts. Seriously. Back in the day, there were few places that you could count on getting coffee 24/7 in Chicagoland. Dunkin’ Donuts, 7-11 and McDonald’s for chains and of course, the greasy spoons who cater to the blue collar set, especially 3rd shift workers. But where did you find the cops? Dunkin’ Donuts. Their coffee used to be very good and I so doubt that’s changed. I miss them much out here in CA. Oh well. Next time I go back, I’m goin’ to DD!

  41. apotheosis says:

    @Kurtz:

    Disgusting. You’ve got to be kidding – that stuff is like drinking creosote.

    Tasty creosote.

  42. savvy999 says:

    @loganmo: Ditto that cream machine at McD’s. I like to pour my own cream and sugar, not blindly accept their precise rationing-by-the-molecule. For drive-up customers, I can see how it is useful. But for in-store customers, it makes no sense.

    How they managed to mechanize, mangle, and otherwise fuck up the simple act of transforming a cup of coffee from ‘black’ to ‘regular’ is baffling.

  43. johnva says:

    Starbucks isn’t that bad for chain coffee, IMO. But I’ve found that they vary a lot in quality from location to location. Maybe some of their employees are better at their job than others? If that’s the case, maybe this “retraining” is a good idea.

  44. johnva says:

    Oh, and I don’t even like a tiny bit of sugar in my coffee. I can’t imagine drinking coffee filled 1/3 of the way with syrup. Blech. Do Americans actually like that ultra-sweet crap? It seems like everything is overly sweetened nowadays.

  45. MasterShake says:

    Every McD’s coffee I’ve ever had tastes like it’s store policy to never clean the coffee equipment. The DD in Dupont Circle (Wash DC) tastes like they bought used coffee makers from McDs. I’m sure it’s great in their test kitchens and stores with competent staff, but in those store in which it is constantly “trainee day”…well, I’d just rather make my own.

  46. Steve Trachsel, Ace says:

    @johnva: yeah. They do. Most people who drink coffee dont actually like the taste of coffee. They like coffee drinks that are only marginal coffee related. I dont mind Starbucks for an occasional latte, but people who drink frappacapamocha whatever arent coffee drinkers, not with the sugar, syrup and other adulterations that those things go through.

    Then again, Im happy with a cup of black coffee from sheetz when I need a kick, so Im no expert.

  47. BSAKat says:

    @smoothtom:
    I do, but in my mind that doesn’t make it any better.

  48. mac-phisto says:

    @Tracy Ham and Eggs: MTO FTW!

    i <3 sheetz.

  49. Steve Trachsel, Ace says:

    @mac-phisto: Nothing said “awesome drinking night” back in the day like a 3AM Shmuffin run. And the place was always packed that time of night.

  50. Hoss says:

    The hash browns and breakfast burger-like thing on their site looks revolting! [www.dunkindonuts.com]

  51. Sure I could agree with you, but then we'd BOTH be wrong. says:

    @tmccartney:

    Dunkin Donut’s coffee is the best. Since moving out to California, where there are no DD’s, I really miss that coffee!!!

  52. Sure I could agree with you, but then we'd BOTH be wrong. says:

    @Tracy Ham and Eggs:

    Coffee is best served BLACK with no flavorings or additives or sweeteners. That is when you can REALLY tell the difference between the coffee “beans” (Actually, coffee is a fruit, the “beans” are the seeds of the coffee cherry)

    My personal favorite: Guatemalan Antigua.

    On a side note, has anyone ever tried KOPI LEWAK coffee? It’s the most expensive coffee in the world, at approximately $420 per pound! (And you thought STARBUCKS was expensive!)

  53. emilymarion333 says:

    Starbucks is not that bad. I have to say other two places have horrible coffee and I would never buy anything at either place.

    I am just going to stick to my regular coffee from Peets that has to be the best cup of coffee you can buy for $1.80.

  54. johnva says:

    @Tracy Ham and Eggs: If they’re just going for the caffeine, I don’t know why they wouldn’t just take a caffeine pill or something and skip the calories and dental decay from the sugary drinks.

  55. RobinB says:

    Someone told me Starbucks purposely burns their roast to hide the fact that they routinely buy stale coffee. And that’s exactly how it tastes to me; burnt. I do like DD coffee but around here the employees are so rude (and/or do not speak English) that I’d rather just make my own brew.

  56. Mills says:

    @floyderdc: you’re too late, it started 16 comments up.

  57. ChuckECheese says:

    Last week I stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts next door to the laundromat. I was surprised at how good the coffee was. I laughed when I realized you can get 2 donuts and a cup of coffee for $2.39, not much more than a cup of Starbucks’ La Brea Tar Blend. They don’t call it Charbucks for nothing. Some people think that Starbucks’ coffee is somehow “European,” but I never drank such incinerated coffee there.

  58. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    @Dooley: Much like toast is simply an excuse to eat butter, for me coffee is just an excuse to drink sweetened cream.

  59. Mr. Guy says:

    Ben, my man, you got it twisted. There is nothing wrong with Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. The prices aren’t jacked up, it’s not too sweet, it’s strong enough, and it’s usually fresh. I agree that a good cup from a neighborhood place is usually better, but when that’s not available, Dunkin’ comes through nicely.

  60. apotheosis says:

    @Dooley:
    As Straight Dope and Dirty Jobs fans all know, Kopi Luwak is expensive because it’s civet poop.

  61. CharlieSeattle says:

    @latormenta: Ya I was just going to say the same thing. We call them Charbucks.

  62. Youthier says:

    @johnva: Social acceptance. It’s “uncool” to come into work without your travel mug or to not head over to the company brewing machine.

    And… I’m not a big coffee fan but since it’s blowing, there’s another four inches of snow on the ground and there’s no end of winter in sight, I had a cup this morning to warm me up.

  63. KJones says:

    I usually stick to home brewed and take a thermos. It tastes better and it’s cheaper.

    I quit going to SB because they never got an order right. They kept trying to sell me “specialty drinks” or old and cold coffee (they call it “iced”) when I want hot black.

    I go to McRotten’s now when I’m in a hurry. It’s tolerable, I wouldn’t go there for anything else.

    And Pukin’ Donuts? Their “coffee” tastes like oily mud. Plus they are incapable of spelling the word right; it’s spelt doughnuts.

  64. smoothtom says:

    @Applekid: Steak is just an excuse to eat A-1!

  65. apotheosis says:

    @KJones:

    Plus they are incapable of spelling the word right; it’s spelt doughnuts.

    Perhaps in Britain and other countries where words like “spelt” are still fashionable. Pip pip high tea and crumpets wot wot.

    Over here in ‘murrica, it’s spelled DONUTS. We reserve the right to mangle the language for marketing expedience.

  66. DrGirlfriend says:

    Strabucks is the suck! Support local joints!

    Oh wait, surprisingly enough, these comments have already been made. Damn you, Pacific Time Zone, always making me come in last!

  67. Jackasimov says:

    Yay! Opinionfest!

    I like all of them.

    Sometimes I’m not in the mood for Starbucks bitterness but I like it fine most of the time. Dunkin’ is usually great but sometimes it tastes like it’s been sitting on the burner too long. And the new McD coffee has always been fine with me also – except when I forget to tell them not to sweeten it. That liquid sweetener makes my teeth hurt. That’s my opinion. I’m right, so there.

  68. Jackasimov says:

    Also, Metropolis Coffee here in Chicago rulz! It’s freakin’ awesome. I get minez from Beanz and Bagelz and it’s always a treat. If they only had a drive thru.

  69. Jackasimov says:

    But @KJones: what kind of coffee you brew at home makes a difference. No? Maxwell house in a thermos is to save money is certainly not superior to Dunkin’ Donuts or any of the rest.

    And “thermos” is a brand name – which we would capitalize here in the states. Thermos.

  70. DriverB says:

    Dunkies is good, man. I miss it out here in CA.

    Down with Charbucks!

  71. krom says:

    A lot of smaller chains are planning to do the same thing.

  72. Jeku says:

    Actually I prefer McDonald’s coffees to Starbucks now. Starbucks’ drip coffee tastes burnt and/or old, everytime.

  73. humperdinck says:

    Dunks does not taste like crap. Them’s fightin’ words.

  74. humperdinck says:

    @DriverB: You can order DD ground coffee/beans from their website, and recently they’ve started offering their ground/bean coffee in stores. I’ve seen it at both Target and Ralph’s in Southern California.

  75. ancientsociety says:

    What’s with all the Starbucks hate? I love Starbucks simply because their coffee is so consistent (Caribou, for a chain, is also pretty good). While I don’t mind DD, sometimes their coffee tastes stale or under-roasted. And don’t even get me started on McD’s….

    @Jackasimov: Actually, living right around the corner from Metropolis, I can say with authority that they suck. Their coffee is inconsistent in quality, occasionally really good, but more often over- or under-roasted and burnt. And their baristas are Sssslllloooowww, sometimes taking 10+ mins. to make a simple Americano (and this is when they aren’t very busy).

  76. Thorny says:

    The good thing about McD’s is that a coffee there will never cost as much as a value meal — which is pretty much how much my favorite Starbucks costs.

  77. shrtcrt says:

    People don’t like plain Starbucks coffee because it tastes burnt and bitter. Maybe if they had decent beans, this would not happen.

    I prefer DD or a local shop.

  78. Sure I could agree with you, but then we'd BOTH be wrong. says:

    Kopi Lewak!

  79. Instigator says:

    Starbucks has left itself vulnerable to competition because it’s become more like the competition. Now that there’s a Starbucks on every corner and in every retailer, it’s lost that “upscale” cachet. Ironically, because Starbucks did create a demand for a fine coffee house experience, independent coffee houses and small regional chains are filling the void, leaving Starbucks unable to return from whence it came in terms of brand positioning.

  80. zero1 says:

    Wooties just got from DD with my free latte, thanks for posting.

  81. KJones says:

    @apotheosis: Over here in ‘murrica, it’s spelled DONUTS. We reserve the right to mangle the language for marketing expedience.

    I’m not British. I’m educated, something a majority of Americans are not.

  82. ian937262 says:

    Keep your opinions about Dunkin Donut coffee to yourself and out of the article! Ta!

  83. modenastradale says:

    Yeah, I can’t stand the flavor of Starbucks coffee. It’s always got an acrid bitterness that reminds me of pickle juice. I’m told this is the result of severely over-roasting the beans.

  84. apotheosis says:

    @KJones:

    I’m not British. I’m educated, something a majority of Americans are not.

    And wound far too tightly, something a majority of British are.

    Lighten up, Francis.

  85. edwardso says:

    @MasterShake: The DD in Columbia Heights is good though

  86. stevegoz says:

    It’s been quite some time since I’ve been told that I’m “lucky enough to live in Chicago.” Now knock it off before more people catch on!

  87. BugMeNot2 says:

    @latormenta:
    dumbass they said all 3 taste bad

  88. stevegoz says:

    @BugMeNot2: Decaf much?

  89. Jackasimov says:

    @ancientsociety: I stand corrected. I meant to say they sucked.

  90. Jackasimov says:

    @stevegoz: I feel pretty lucky to live in Chicago myself, except in the winter and the summer (and parts of the spring and the fall).

  91. Jackasimov says:

    @apotheosis: heheh. Stripes.

  92. john42 says:

    Heres to hoping this will put a nail in $tarbucks future coffin. They earned my undying hate when they bought out all the Coffee People leases in the Oregon to shut them down…

  93. heyeron says:

    it cracks me up to hear people slamming starbucks. they did not become the monster size chain they are by no one liking them. obviously, someone is buying starbucks on a regular basis. personally, I find them tolerable, but a little tame. as far as chains go, I prefer Pete’s, a much stronger taste, although I agree with someone who posted earlier to go to a local shop, usually far better than any chain. then again, I would rather make my own with my favorite beans!

  94. rlee says:

    @apotheosis: No, no no! It’s Luwak* poop! That’s what makes it worth it. :-,)

    * Luwak is apparently the native word for civet.

    I assume you and @Dooley have seen Dave Barry’s hilarious take on it?

  95. MYarms says:

    WTF now I know Consumerist is all B.S. if they think DD tastes like crap. Dunkin consistently makes the best coffee there is short of buying Blue Mountain beans from Jamaica.

  96. apotheosis says:

    @rlee:

    It is inhumane, in my opinion, to force people who have a genuine medical need for coffee to wait in line behind people who apparently view it as some kind of recreational activity.

    Truer words were never spoken.

  97. dantsea says:

    I think it’s charitable for Consumerist to further Starbucks wank. It ups the page views and gives people with absolutely nothing else to contribute a way to comment.

  98. kalmakazee says:

    Dunkin Donuts Coffee is the WORST!!

    I LOVE Starbucks WAAAAY OVERPRICED Coffee but I never go there unless I have a Starbucks coupon or a free Starbucks Gift Card. I can’t afford their ridiculous pricing!

    McDonalds makes the BEST Ice Coffee hands down!!

  99. jodles says:

    starbucks in london is giving out free coffee today (wed) from 2pm-closing.

  100. KJones says:

    @apotheosis: And wound far too tightly, something a majority of British are.

    Lighten up, Francis.

    Ah, the response of the ignorant: don’t address the issue, attack instead.

  101. apotheosis says:

    Why exert myself making a case, when you’re going so far out of your way to make it for me?

  102. sibertater says:

    How is coffee this important? For shit sakes, people…go feed the homeless or teach an illiterate person to read.

  103. Kajj says:

    Dunkin Donuts coffee is delicious, but for Chicago locals I recommend Intelligentsia.

  104. 00exmachina says:

    @Dooley: if that’s the stuff they pick out if civet cat feces you couldn’t pay me to drink it.

    Personally I home brew the coffee. Dunkin tends to be like drinking a candy bar, never had mc donalds coffee recently enough to actually have an informed opinion there. And starbucks is overpriced for regular coffee.

    Though for the beans, it’s green mountain all they way. I’m a sucker for free trade organic coffee. Plus it’s consistenly the best brand I’ve had.