Starbucks CEO: McDonald's And Dunkin' Donuts Don't Sell "Premium Coffee"

Maria Bartiromo interviewed Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz about the “new” Starbucks and asked him the one question he probably didn’t want to hear:

Earlier you said to me, the media has made such a huge deal about all of Starbucks’ competition. So tell us straight out what the story is here. Have you been hurt by the premium coffee sold at McDonald’s (MCD) or by Dunkin’ Donuts getting more aggressive?

“First off, I don’t think there’s premium coffee being sold at those fast-food places…”

“Second, this is not about the competition. Our customers are not buying a hamburger and fries and then going to get espresso. That’s not the case. What is the case is that there’s a downturn in the economy. As a result, people are coming in less often than they did a year ago. But we control our own destiny. And what we strongly believe is if we take care of our customers, produce the kind of product that is distinctive, and exceed their expectations, we’re going to be in great shape. But we’re going to couple that with relentless innovation that you’ll begin to see in the marketplace in the months ahead.

Uh-oh! That’s not what Consumer Reports says! From Consumer Reports’ fast food coffee taste test:

McDonald’s, $1.35, was decent and moderately strong. Although it lacked the subtle top notes needed to make it rise and shine, it had no flaws.

Burger King, $1.40, looked like coffee but tasted more like hot water. It was a little sour, with an unusual hint of chocolate.

Dunkin’ Donuts, $1.65, was weak, watery, and pricier than Starbucks. It was inoffensive, but it had no oomph. (If you brew with Dunkin’ beans at home, you can make it stronger.)

Starbucks, $1.55, was strong, but burnt and bitter enough to make your eyes water instead of open.

CR’s take. Try McDonald’s, which was cheapest and best, or make your own coffee–just call it something special. The other three were all only OK, but for different reasons.

We consider Starbucks to be a fast food place. Don’t you? Drive-thrus? Check. Mini-stores inside big box stores? Check. Menu items with 700+ calories? Check.

Howard Schultz on Reinventing Starbucks [BusinessWeek via Starbucks Gossip]
Starbucks wars [Consumer Reports]


Edit Your Comment

  1. acknight says:

    Don’t know where Consumer Reports was shopping for coffees, but it certainly wasn’t in Syracuse, NY – McDs coffee here is pretty awful (Not that DD or BK are much better, if you drink your coffee black). Then again, Starbucks, black, isn’t always that great either.

    Better question: where on earth was Consumer Reports getting those prices? (I presume smalls, but still)

  2. Gaambit says:

    Until they get some Wawa’s down south, I am sticking with my Dunkin’ Donuts. Any Starbucks coffee I try always tastes pretty bitter.

  3. econobiker says:

    “Get cha a cup o’ joe in a styrofoam cup at da 7-11…” Enough of this “premium” coffee garbage… It was foreign beers back in the ’80s and now that all the baby boom yuppies are on the wagon from their alcohol addictions they transfered to Starbucks…

    Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz’s response was corporate speak for “we’re fighting the competition.”

  4. Finder says:

    So whoever was tasting coffee for Consumer Reports has no idea what good coffee tastes like. No surprise there.

  5. Dead Wrestlers Society says:

    Yeah, he totally threw the “fast-food” in there as a slur. But yeah, I guess a place where you duck in and out in a couple of minutes with food/drink could be considered fast-food, so Starbucks would fit that description.

  6. IcarusRisen says:

    Well, Mcdonalds was making their coffee at 140 degrees F for a while to mask the bad taste of their coffee. When they got sued for that, I bet they had to improve the quality if their coffee.

  7. thirdbase says:

    Lets face it we were all dupped by Starbucks. They sold an image. We bought it. When we awoke from our stupor we realized that we were buying crap tasting coffee for a crazy high price. Now people are realizing they can get better coffee for cheaper at McDonalds. The Pied Piper’s flute is out of tune and the spell has been broken.

  8. darundal says:

    Am I the only one who is struck by how much of a story this ISN’T?

  9. NcSchu says:

    I never buy normal coffee from Starbucks anyway, and most people I see that go there don’t either. It’s difficult to really compare Starbucks with these other places because I kind of doubt the company’s main selling point is just normal coffee.

  10. morganlh85 says:

    Starbucks probably makes little money on their brewed coffee. It’s their $3-5 milk-based espresso and frozen drinks that bring the big profit.

    McDonald’s “espresso” drinks are disgusting. They put about 50 pumps of gross syrup in them and the espresso is bitter and awful, probably largely due to the fact that their employees know nothing about how to prepare coffee other than what the little illustrated guide next to the machine tells them to do.

    And I’m guessing the fast-food comment means that people aren’t going to Starbucks saying “gee I wish they had greasy hamburgers here” then visiting a McDonald’s and saying “Hallelujah! Coffee AND greasy hamburgers!” so technically it’s a totally different market. People go to Starbucks to get their latte, period. People don’t go to McDonald’s JUST for a latte.

  11. Falconfire says:

    @Finder: Well least they know Starbucks tasted bad…. since apparently Starbucks own CEO doesnt know what good coffee tastes like either.

    Ill say around where I live, Dunkin Donuts is the way to go. Its a little more money than McDs but a much smoother flavor than Charbucks, even after their “new” coffee.

  12. adamsummers says:

    Dunkin’ Donuts coffee kicks ass! I don’t know what Consumer Reports was drinking. As far as Starbucks coffee, I find in marginable at best. I’d much rather have a Panera or Caribou coffee for a quick fix.

  13. Bladefist says:

    Whats the difference between premium coffee and coffe? Is there a bean called the ‘premium coffee bean’ and you have to know a secret handshake to buy it?

  14. htrodblder says:

    I tried some coffee at Starbucks the other day, it tasted burnt and frankly, like crap. I took it back to get it replaced the the sweet courteous little bitch behind the counter told me its suppose to taste burnt. “Thats the beans” she stated. I might add she did this while giving me one of those head cocked to side, eyes rolling looks. At that very moment in time, I decided I had made my very last Starbucks purchase.

  15. CharlieInSeattle says:

    I think it’s ironic that they dis McDonalds coffee, when at least here in the northwest McD’s uses Seattle’s Best coffee, which is owned, oh by Starbucks.

  16. dwarf74 says:

    I kinda hate McDonald’s, but, as far as regular coffee goes, theirs is good stuff.

    I much prefer it to Starbuck’s, but don’t like going to McDonald’s to get it. I don’t stop by somewhere just to get a cup of coffee; we have a perfectly good coffeeshop in the building where I work.

  17. purplesun says:

    I used to love the old McDonald’s Coffee. Terrible, hot, bitter – it was a thing of beauty when you were up at 5:30 in the morning, starting on a long car trip back home from college for the weekend. One sip and you were awake. Add a greasy potato thing with it and you were all set.

    Seattle’s Best is my coffee place of choice now.

  18. meadandale says:


    In the ‘old days’ of the early nineties, Starbucks coffee wasn’t half bad. They still had the local coffee shop feel. When you bought coffee beans, they still scooped it out of the bulk bins into the 1lb bags and weighed it out right in front of you.

    They long ago lost the mystique of the local coffee shop and I pretty much stopped buying their beans when they were packed offsite and shipped to the stores. However, the coffee really wasn’t THAT bad until about the last 5-8 years when I couldn’t even stomach drinking a cup of their black coffee. I frequently make strong coffee from dark roasts and it NEVER tastes anywhere near the same as starschmucks horrid concoction.

    If you like coffee, do yourself a favor and get to know a local roaster, buy fresh and brew it yourself. I save a ton of money this way and my coffee tastes WAY better than starbucks.

  19. leprofie says:

    Brew it at home. It is a whole lot cheaper. Use a re-fillable cup. A whole lot better for the environment. My 20 oz Fair Trade coffee each morning costs less than half those others, and it is never weak.

  20. Snarkysnake says:

    Schultz is right. McD’s is not selling premium coffee any more than they are selling premium hamburgers.They rolled out some new blend,spent a gazillion dollars on advertising to promote it,blew a couple of reporters to ensure favorable coverage and voila! They now serve premium coffee.

    Okay. Lets play “what if”…
    What if they really spent the bucks on a premium coffee blend and worked hard to train their employees to maximize its flavor and aroma and instituted strict guidelines about freshness,serving temperature,etc ?

    IF they did that,you can be damn sure that some bean counter (bad pun) DEEP in the bowels of McDonalds is even now working on a way to adulterate that blend and “cut costs” because “the customer will never notice”. Even if they made a decent cup a joe for a little while,in 2-3 years,it will be a difefrent (cheaper) product. What Schultz is trying to do here is take his company back from the bean counters and make it an experience instead of just a cup of wake-me-up. Are their prices high ? You betcha.But the product is worth more and he doesn’t want the line to be blurred between McDonalds and Starbucks.

  21. leprofie says:

    If any of these relied on me, they would go broke. Fair Trade coffee, ground and brewed at home, perfect cup, 20 oz less than half the cost of the cheapest at the stores. And I use the same cup over and over, no paper into the landfill.

  22. FuckYouGawkerMedia says:

    When I lived up north, 7-11 coffee was what I preferred. McDonalds coffee was like liquid crack.

    What gets me is, how Starbucks claims Dunkin’ Donuts is a fast food joint that doesn’t sell premium coffee.

    Down here in the south where I live it’s gas station coffee or Krispy Kreme. I wind up making my own now and kicked the $10/day coffee habit.

  23. Krowa003 says:

    @econobiker: Do not ever equate domedtic beers with imports. Sure not all imports are created equal, but the worst import is not nearly as crappy as that piss water king of beers. Givme me a break!

  24. bdsakx says:

    “it lacked the subtle top notes needed to make it rise and shine”

    What does that mean? The writer decided to get a little too creative for lack of anything relevant to say about a cup of coffee…

  25. dmang88 says:

    I think Starbucks deserves the credit for encouraging the mainstream to upsell itself on coffee in general. Half of the people who turn their noses up to it now were probably still guzzling Folger’s Instant prior to sampling ‘Bucks, myself included. I grind n brew myself the most delightful cup from fresh, locally roasted beans now, and on the rare occasion I go for some retail Joe, it’s not so much for taste. It’s to keep my airbags from inflating.

    And that retail Joe is from Wawa.

  26. cybercjh says:

    @Gaambit: YES! WAWA! Love it! You can order Wawa coffee from

  27. yetiwisdom says:

    @Gaambit: Woohoo! WAWA!

  28. chrisjames says:

    “What is the case is that there’s a downturn in the economy.”


    “Our product does not hold enough value to weather the change in spending habits.”

    Ouch! Let your PR do the talking next time.

  29. mammalpants says:

    starbucks = hot armpit juice!

  30. ConsumptionJunkie says:


    Starbucks is the McD’s of coffee.

    I prefer Peet’s.

  31. dronnac says:

    Nothing will ever beat the independent coffee chain coffee (Greenberry’s, VA). That’s for coffee on the go.

    Otherwise, damn I miss the espressos I used to have in real CAFEs in Paris, the real shit, no creamer or any kind of blasphemy, not the crap you get at starbucks. That’s dope. Let’s no even think of Dunshit. A friend of mine who lives in Philly, he is more of a coffee snob than I am, thought though that Wawa’s stuff was decent compared to the rest.

    Oh my I miss some Turkish coffee as well. Now I’m going to sip on my cheap Columbian coffee :, sadness.

  32. Daniels says:

    Starbucks probably makes little money on their brewed coffee.

    Doubt that. How much could a pot of coffee cost them? Figure they buy their beans in super bulk and run tapwater through them.

    A pot of coffee probably costs them less than one cup. Sell the cup, you get your cost back… the rest is profit… repeat all day.

  33. failurate says:

    @Krowa003: Didn’t microbrews (and even Sam Adams) kill the imaginary dragon that is imported beer?

  34. Daniels says:

    Didn’t microbrews (and even Sam Adams) kill the imaginary dragon that is imported beer?

    For a while, but then they were resurrected as “Belgians”.

  35. Falconfire says:

    @Snarkysnake: See the thing here is, Starbucks NEVER in their entire history of the franchise EVER has had a decent cup of coffee.


    Maybe they did when they where a few dinky stores in Seattle back in the 80’s but thats it.

    Their “premium” coffee has been lambasted by coffee conosours and just general coffee drinkers for years, yet they still give the company line of “it’s supposed to taste that way.”

    Their mixed drinks are ok, but even their if you KNOW coffee, you know its crap and they cover up bad pulls and dirty machines with rancid coffee bean oil on them with tons of cream.

    So reading his pompous attitude toward companies who for all purposes actually do make better coffee than him just makes him seem like more of a yuppy asshole than their management seemed like before.

  36. evenkevin says:

    I got my dad a bean roaster two Christmases ago. It wasn’t an expensive model with many options, but it once you figure out how to use it, you can make a nice cup of coffee. A lot cheaper in the long run, too. Plus it gave my Dad yet another hobby to spend time on during retirement.

  37. Kbomb says:

    When it comes to straight up black coffee, Starbucks is no good. If I have to go to SB, I get an Americano–it tastes slightly less like burnt guano.

    McDonalds black coffee has really improved with the new roast. Dunkin Donuts used to be much better, but it seems like a lot of the locations around me are making it weaker than they used to. Burger King is pretty bad.

  38. Scalvo2 says:

    WaWa 1/2 Columbian 1/2 extreme caffeine mocha

  39. redhelix says:

    Number of starbucks locations in the city of Boston: 37

    Number of Dunkin Donuts locations in the city of Boston: Over 100

    Premium goat urine is just that – goat urine.

  40. Coelacanth says:

    I appreciate Starbucks, but not for their brewed coffee. With the exception of their Estima blend, I would rather have just about anything else but Starbucks. I suppose that makes me anything but a coffee snob, and says quite a bit about the poor quality of Starbucks’ regular coffee.

    Nonetheless, its crafted beverages are pretty good, and their prices are competitive with independent cafes. Their mochas, lattes, and seasonal drinks are staples for me.

    Howard Schultz is partially right. Starbucks is known for its premium espresso beverages, which I would be deathly afraid to try at McDonald’s or any other fast-food chain.

    That being said, I find Starbuck’s Estima blend drinkable. I’m afraid to try their new Pike Place blend, since I have a nut allergy.

  41. Jezedude says:

    McDonalds coffee tastes better than Starbacks these days. But I’ll still stick to my Tim Hortons.

  42. johnva says:


    I think only people who only drink terrible beer still break beer down into “imported” and “domestic” as the two main categories. There is tons of wonderful American beer now.

  43. Youthier says:

    @bdsakx: It makes me sad that people get so wrapped up in the Starbucks bashing that it wasn’t until halfway through the thread that someone pointed out that little piece of stupidity.

  44. maestrosteve says:

    It just goes to show you how subjective the taste of coffee is. One person’s gold is another person’s crap.

    A Consumer Reports review on coffee taste is stupid. The consistency of brew is different in every McDonalds, as well as every Dunkin Donuts. At least DD sells so much coffee, that it doesn’t sit there for 5 hours like the coffee at McDonalds can.
    If the brew tasted the same all the time at each of these places, the taste results would still be subjective.

    I don’t believe that McD’s sells premium coffee. They don’t sell premium anything. They sell fast and cheap. They specialize in burgers, and does anyone believe they get a premium burger there? At least DD roasts their own beans, and their taste is pretty consistent (whether you like it or not). They spent years trying to perfect just one flavor of coffee. Coffee is their thing, and I think they’ve made an effort to sell a premium product.

    On the other hand, just what is the Starbuck’s CEO supposed to say? Should he say – “Yes, we all sell premium coffee, but ours cost more money and taste burnt”?

  45. meadandale says:


    Without exception to location, Starbucks pulls one of the worst shots of espresso I’ve had–and all the Starbucks stores are now using superauto machines so there is no ‘operator’ effect. There is nothing “premium” about their espresso drinks since the core component–the espresso–is horrid. They seem to be fooling you and many others by covering it up with syrup and milk and then charging you upwards of $5 for it

  46. Snarkysnake says:


    “See the thing here is, Starbucks NEVER in their entire history of the franchise EVER has had a decent cup of coffee.


    Okay. Educate me. (For the record,I grind and brew my own).
    Why are people mobbing these stores when they open if they have NEVER made a decent cup of coffee ? Why are they able to take this concept worldwide if they basically do a piss poor job ? I don’t get it. Not flaming here-just genuinely curious how they can succeed when they can’t do the basics…

  47. farcast says:

    How lucky am I to live in Chicago – the home of Intelligentsia AND the only location of Julius Meinl in the entire United States. In my neighborhood. Oh yes.

  48. chrisjames says:

    @Snarkysnake: Addiction? Both chemical and social?

  49. ChuckECheese says:

    @bdsakx: Top notes are the aromas you taste (actually, you smell them) when you first eat or drink something. They are your first impression. A lack of top notes means either the coffee used for brewing was old, or the coffee in the pot had been sitting too long. It may sound affected to you, but there is a sort of art & science to tasting.

    Since we’re all riffing on our coffee opinions here, I’ll add my own. I discovered that latin coffee brands, usually espresso ground, make great coffee. My favorite brands are La Llave and Yocono, and they’re priced about the same as regular grocery coffee brands–$3 a package. You might be able to find them in a local grocery or ethnic market. If not, they can be ordered online. I’m too lazy to grind my own beans–it has to taste decent out of the bag.

    As somebody else said, Peet’s is great coffee, but rather hard to find, and expensive to order. Dunkin Donuts is good, and they have always paid attention to how they make coffee–measuring the coffee, checking water temps, making it fresh after a certain period. After many years, a couple months ago I had a cup of DD, and was surprised at how good it was.

    @Daniels: When I was in hotel management school, I did a cost analysis of our coffee–basically supplies and labor. It came to about 2¼¢ a cup. This was in 1990. Even if you quintuple that, you can see that selling cups of coffee is a great way to make money. You may think you’re getting ripped off. But you have to consider that a coffee shop has to pay the bills selling cups of coffee, one at a time, so a high markup is necessary for a cafe.

  50. Jaysyn was banned for: says:


    Speak for yourself. I’ve been in a Starbuck once, and that was because I wanted tea.

  51. scarysnow says:


    lol last sentence.

    btw, i agree, coffee is totally subjective…like wine. i’m not a coffee expert, so it all pretty much tastes good to me.

  52. majortom1981 says:

    Starbucks is a rip off and I only get it when nothing else is open. Heck DD’s Iced Coffee is cheaper then starbucks and you get more. Plus DD makes the ICed Coffee stronger then their normal coffee so that it doersn’t get watered down by the ice.

    So the starbucks ceo can lie all he wants

  53. GuyNoir says:


    Starbucks may criticize McDs for not offering “Premium” Coffee…

    But were they not the ones that – just last week – introduced us to Pike’s Place? – Pikes Place a concoction that is about as far from a Premium coffee as you can travel…

    The reality is that Starbucks and McDs are more alike than different. It doesn’t matter where you are, the quality is about the same…

  54. IssaGoodDay says:

    I’ll be the first to knock Starbucks… BUT: Their new Pike Place roast is actually pretty freakin’ good. Smooth as all get out, lots of flavor, and significantly less burnt than their other offerings.

  55. Verdigris says:

    @failurate: Mmmm. Sam Adams…. I was going to mention that to the guy who said American beers were crap. Now all I can think about is the sweet, sweet nectar that is Boston Lager. (Does that make me a drunk?)

    Back on topic. I worked for McDonald’s for 7 years as manager, and I can tell you honestly that the coffee they sell today is NO different than the coffee they sold years back.

    One day I came to work and there were new cups off the truck that said “Premium Roast Coffee”. That was it. I guess maybe we trained a little more on holding time and what not, but the little prefilled pods the coffee came in never changed, not one bit.

    Take that as you will.

  56. IssaGoodDay says:


    (Sorry for the double post)

    I would disagree… and I worked in an indie coffee shop for a few years, sampling some stuff universally agreed upon by connoisseurs as being divine. Pike Place DOES compare, but must be drunk black – adding cream/sugar tends to kill the flavor a bit. It’s really quite good when black though.

  57. nick_r says:

    Starbucks and McDonald’s fighting over whose coffee is “premium” is like Hyundai and Kia fighting over whose cars are “high-performance.”

  58. ChuckECheese says:

    @Snarkysnake: I can answer your questions. 1. I don’t mean to rip on middle america, but they don’t have experience with coffee. There are two kinds of restaurant-goers (a) those who go to a place for the food, and (b) those who go for the atmosphere. SB definitely emphasizes the atmosphere.

    Many of SB’s drinks are strange milkshakes, heavily sugared and flavored. They aren’t straight-up cups of coffee. If you put enough milk and syrup in a shot of espresso, it won’t matter what the coffee tastes like. This type of coffee makes SB a lot of money, but it’s not the kind of coffee that coffee-lovers drink.

    It’s the people who like their coffee more or less in its natural state who complain about the flavor of SB’s coffee, which is roasted to the point of losing all subtlety. It mostly tastes like char. And it is surprising how many people complain that SB’s drip coffee gives them a tummyache–I suspect it is too alkaline (note: take some pH test strips to SB next time). The only way you’re going to understand what people are talking about when discussing coffee is to gain some experience comparing the flavors of different coffees, roasts and brewing methods.

    Around the world, SB alters its products and marketing to suit prevailing tastes. The coffee doesn’t taste the same everywhere, and SB doesn’t offer the same goods and services throughout the world. As travelers will tell you, the quality of goods and services is frequently much better in other developed nations than it is in the U.S., where everything is standardized to a low denominator then shoved hard down our throats (called marketing). The average American has little to compare SB to, and since SB has a pleasant vibe, and sweet drinks that give them a buzz, they go there. That’s not a criticism of them; that’s just the way it is.

    The whole point of this article, and the article cited above, is that alternatives are presenting themselves, people are beginning to see the chinks in SB’s armor, and it has SB a bit on the run, which will probably mean some improvement to SB’s goods and services.

  59. failurate says:

    It appears obvious, there are just not enough local roasters.

    Here is ours…

  60. samurailynn says:

    I used to drink Starbuck’s lattes and mochas quite a bit. Then I realized that I didn’t really like the coffee flavor that was underneath it all. So I tried their chai. Unfortunately, they have horrid chai – I’ll stick to making it at home.

    If I want coffee while I’m out, I usually go to 7-11. Maybe I’m just not much of a connoisseur, but I think 7-11’s little self service cappuccino machine is the best.

  61. rachaeljean says:

    McD’s new iced coffees are AMAZING. And about a third of the price of the Bux. I have definitely switched my first choice – for quick, on-the-go coffee (ie fast food! HELLO Starbucks!)… but if I want to meet up with people or have a book club meeting or something, I’m still not going to be all “Hey, lets go hang out at McD’s! They’ve got playland!” lol.

  62. Ciao_Bambina says:

    Why are people mobbing these stores when they open if they have NEVER made a decent cup of coffee? Why are they able to take this concept worldwide if they basically do a piss poor job? Because people do know what sugar and milk and chocolate and other flavorings taste like and Starbucks knows how to mix them into something delicious that masks a subpar cup of coffee. As long as they’re getting sugar and caffeine, the customer is happy. Starbucks also employs marketing geniuses.

    For my money, McDonald’s coffee is pretty darn good, at least on the West Coast. I’ve been drinking coffee since I was six (long story) and have had training in cupping and roasting, so I know a little bit about the ol’ bean. ;)

  63. theBIG says:

    I buy my beans unroasted from, and roast them in an air popcorn popper. Its a lot of fun and you get to experiment with all kinds of different coffee and levels of roast. I make enough for about 3 or 4 days at a time. If you google DIY roasting coffee you can learn a lot.

    If you really like coffee, there is nothing like a cup of your own custom roast.

    Of course, if its just not that important to you, then find a coffee shop you like and buy it there – its not that big of a deal.

  64. dotyoureyes says:

    We got an independent coffee shop across the street from my office last month. I haven’t been to Starbucks since.

    I’m fortunate enough to live in Portland, where we have the amazing Stumptown Coffee — both in its own stores and many other shops, like the one next door. Once you start drinking well-roasted, non-bitter coffee, it’s (unsurprisingly) difficult to go back to the burnt Starbucks flavor.

    (My own theory on Starbucks — they burn the beans to subconsciously encourage you to buy high-margin addons like sugary syrups and froofy lattes.)

  65. ghomsany says:

    Well, first off it depends on how much of a coffee snob you are. I don’t have that much of a high-end need for coffee so I actually took notice that McD’s actually was pretty good! (I’m sure you coffee snobs are cringinig)

    But I also think it depends where you live. I was living out in San Diego and they didnt even have Dunkin, so it was splurge on Dunkin, or get it from the gas station haha.

    Now I live in Boston and its Dunkin 24/7 around here! Everyone loves it, including me :) By the way, their new hashbrowns are great too.

  66. Heyref says:

    Say what you will about Starbucks, and many have here; they treat their employees far better than many similar places. All three of my children have worked there while going to college. The pay is above average for that kind of work, and they give medical benefits if you work 20 hours a week or more on average. And, yes they actually let you work that much if you want. It’s much better employment than other chains where they’ve worked.

    As for the coffee, I prefer Peet’s, if I’m going into that kind of place, although getting comped or getting their discount gets me into Starbucks frequently. The best espresso is in my kitchen, however. And none of those places serve caffè corretto (espresso “corrected” with a dram of Sambucco.)

  67. Me - now with more humidity says:

    I like Starbucks. And so, apparently, do a helluva lot of other people who spend money there daily.

    But coffee is SUBJECTIVE. I think Peets tastes like burnt tree bark. DD just has no zip — although they make excellent iced coffee. McDs is okay in a pinch. 7-11 tastes like Folgers to me. But that’s fine. And I have no problem with you hating SB or only drinking home-brew. And I’m constantly amazed at the arrogance and intolerance of SB bashers.

    Drink what you like and like what you drink.

  68. yikz says:

    The last refuge of the incompetent. Slam the competition!
    Seriously… what are you gaining by putting down the competition? They should worry about their own story, and not worry about putting down everyone else. It’s not appreciated. I don’t buy coffee at McDonald’s, but I do love a good donut and coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts. The last time I went to Starbuck’s for a breakfast item and coffee, it cost over $4. Dunkin’, I think I walked out for less than $2.50. Do that every day, and Starbuck’s becomes a luxury I can quickly dismiss. And the nutrient quality of Starbuck’s $2.00 breakfast items is no better (or no worse) than a donut at Dunkin’ Donuts. In fact, I bet the scones are worse than a donut.

  69. Verdigris says:

    On a side note…

    If Starbucks offered a shot of Bailey’s in there I would be all up on that.

  70. The Bambino says:

    Who makes a decent cup of coffee
    a) Starbucks
    b) Dunkin D
    c) McDonalds?
    e) None of the above

    The answer is E!!! Why are we even debating this anymore? Its like trying to figure out what the best way to be robbed. There just isn’t a good answer…
    /not even a coffee snob, just someone practicing common sense

  71. Me - now with more humidity says:

    That should read: Yet I’m constantly amazed at the arrogance and intolerance of SB bashers. It’s amusing.

    Not enough coffee.

  72. Verdigris says:

    @The Bambino: What happened to D?

    Poor D.

  73. ophmarketing says:

    samurailynn: The chai is actually the only thing I really like at Starbucks. I tried buying the Tazo Chai mix at the store and making it at home, but it’s not as good. I think it’s because SB’s uses straight syrup, whereas the store-bought stuff is diluted in water. (Ask for a ‘no water’ chai at SB’s, by the way…it tastes much stronger.)

  74. LUV2CattleCall says:


    Well…besides the whole part about Hyundai and Kia being the same company…

    Actually, didn’t Hyundai have commercials comparing themselves to Lexus (sure, our car doesn’t park itself, but it’s $30k cheaper) and BMW (Our car is $26k cheaper, but the BMW has more cupholders)?

  75. msamjr says:

    Brewed coffee is pretty profitable for Starbucks, and although Frappuccinos are one of the bigger money makers (and labor determinants) – coffee is what this company started out with, so it’s no surprise that along with a re-invigorated strategy for U.S sales and international expansion, they introduce Pikes Place Roast to appeal to a wider variety of customers (especially the ones who claim “burnt!” and “bitter!”)

    The hold times for coffee have been changed from 1 hour to 30 minutes; a major difference when you actually taste them when they’re brewed fresh, at half hour, and at one hour timers. Although I’m not a coffee drinker, I can definitely notice a difference in taste and quality the longer it’s left on the warming devices.

    McDonalds is still one step behind; there is no innovation, they are just expanding and improving on strategies that Starbucks made famous. So why is it a surprise that a company can come along and create a product that rivals the king of the hill, when they’ve had years to research and improve upon the status quo design? Instead of laying down, Starbucks has seen that they’ve slipped up, let the competition in, and now the innovation of ideas is flowing again.

    Like so many have said before; the taste of coffee is subjective. But what you can’t argue with is the continuing success of a company like Starbucks.

  76. TPS Reporter says:

    I like McD’s coffee pretty good. Don’t care for DD or Starbucks. The better of them all is dark roast that you buy yourself and brew at home. Even the cheap store brand stuff is better than all 3, but McD’s does in a pinch if I don’t have time to brew my own in the morning.

  77. chiieddy says:

    @Gaambit: When visiting my parents in NJ, we always stop at a WaWa to grab a sandwich on the way back to MA. We’re always amazed by the efficiency and quality we get there.

  78. backbroken says:

    I can only do one of these Starbucks threads per week.

  79. ceokhan says:

    I have read surveys that have been done…. and people like McDonald’s coffee better than Starbucks. This guy is just angry that Dunkin donuts and McDonalds are taking over their Market share.

  80. Meatloaf says:

    This no longer seems to be a blog about consumer complaints and ways to resolve them. It has become a bashing session on a few group of companies. Starbucks is one of the most corporate responsible companies out there that takes care of their employees (especially compared to the other “fast food” chains) and listens to their customers.

    I am no longer going to subscribe to the RSS feed of this blog to get a biased opinions about the businesses that the editors somehow dislike.

  81. Elijah-M says:

    @Gaambit: It tastes bitter because it is COFFEE.

  82. chartrule says:

    if your going to make your own
    add a pinch of salt to the coffee before you brew it.

    the pinch of salt will take away the bitterness and give you a better tasting coffee

  83. Elijah-M says:

    Comparing the coffee at Starbucks, McDonalds and Dunkin’ Donuts is kind of like comparing the driving experience behind the wheel of a Kia, Hyundai or Yugo.

  84. quagmire0 says:

    If you are going to drink normal ‘no frills’ coffee on a regular basis, for gods sake make your own! It’s much cheaper and doesn’t take as much time as people think.

    If you want the triple espresso latte mocha frappacino, fine, go to Starbucks or Caribou or whatever.

  85. Verdigris says:

    @Meatloaf: You will be missed.

    Just remember, it’s a blog, not a news site. The editors post a story with their opinion, and then you are free to submit your own opinion.

  86. Mmmmmm I run on Dunkin!

  87. Super_Kitten says:

    I agree with a good deal of the comments on here, having my own crusade for real coffee (roast your own or buy local roasted, grind timely, use a french press or learn to pull espresso…or go to a good local cafe), because I think people should learn what real, good coffee tastes like.

    But I just want to add for the record: Maybe, just maybe, we are starting to change people’s minds- if we all turn even one brand-loyal Starbucks fiend, we can start fighting the awesome power of their marketing.

  88. BSAKat says:

    Neither does Starbucks…

  89. failurate says:

    @Verdigris: When he wasn’t looking, I jacked his “D” all sneaky like, since that is the best way to be robbed.

  90. richcreamerybutter says:

    @ConsumptionJunkie: Peet’s is awesome!

    Regardless, I recall that a) less premium beans (grown at lower altitudes) and b) lighter roasts mean a higher caffeine content. Wheee!

    “Our customers are not buying a hamburger and fries and then going to get espresso. “

    For some reason this reminds me of Louis CK’s joke about the martini glass representing the “no drinking” signs in the park, and slurring bums pausing between their yelling to delicately sip their martinis.

  91. Chols says:

    thank you. everytime my friends want starbucks i always stop at the corner gas and pick up a 90 cent cup and go inside with them and drink it.

  92. revmatty says:

    I don’t drink coffee much, I do drink mocha however. The McDonald’s one is simply undrinkable. I tried it at several different locations and couldn’t take more than three sips. Starbucks is acceptable though not outstanding. The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in SoCal, on the other hand… I miss only a handful of things about SoCal, and that’s one of them.

  93. fuzzymuffins says:

    starbucks can be compared to mcdonalds or dunkins. same league when it comes to product and service and syndication.

    what ever happened to just going around to places and find out for yourself what you like best?

    but if you’re all ‘fanboy’ about starbucks, and you haven’t bothered to check out other places for comparison .. then i have no sympathy for you.

    i’ve done the rounds, and stay out of starbucks by principle… and found my favorite coffee place.

    note to pretentious starbucks CEO: “premium” doesn’t equal ” more expensive expensive”

    “premium” = “something better than the rest”

  94. Android8675 says:

    @econobiker: Hey, keep my microbrewery out of this arguement, have you seen the price of hops lately, those guys got it rough now a days.

    I’m a huge coffee drinker, but I like finding those smaller coffee houses that usually setup next to Starbucks. Better coffee, and usually cheaper. If you can’t find a small’ish coffee joint, look for “Pete’s”. They taught the Starbucks guys how to roast coffee in the first place.

  95. Sasquatch says:

    And this is why I make my own coffee.

  96. The Bambino says:


    Man, you WERE sneaky. Didn’t even notice you steal that D from right under my nose. Haha:)

  97. firesign says:

    tell you what, i will take white castle’s coffee over any of the ones mentioned anyday, or tim horton’s. or, if you really need to go to one of the trendy places, caribou coffee.

  98. Bourque77 says:

    Thats why dunkin sells more cofee than starsmucks could ever dream of selling.

  99. louveciennes says:

    McDonald’s coffee–since they changed it a couple of years ago–is surprisingly good, and certainly better than Starbucks’. If I just want coffee I’ll make my own, but if I’m indulging in a Sausage McMuffin I’ll definately get a coffee with it.

  100. Verdigris says:

    @louveciennes: McDonald’s didn’t change their coffee. Just the packaging.

    That’s marketing for you. Make your customers believe you changed something so they try it out again and you believe it tastes better.

  101. BrewMe says:

    Anyone tried Sonic’s new prem. roast coffee, its pretty good.

  102. alfundo says:

    Consumer reports did a simialr story a uear or 2 ago and back then they found that DD scored the highest. Though I believe the prior test was on the quality of the beans.

    I’m a DD snob both ways, I’ll buy on average 2 cups a day at a store and I go thru 2 pounds a week brewing at home. It all comes down to CONSISTENCY for me.

  103. louveciennes says:

    Nope, they changed the coffee. They’re using a different company.

  104. ManPurse says:

    @Me: I agree. I sometimes can’t believe how much time people on this blog spend talking about how much they hate Starbucks.

    It’s like sitting around debating the merits of Burgerking over McDonalds over Burgerville over Carl’s Junior. It’s subjective. And who cares?

  105. Verdigris says:

    @louveciennes: Not to start an argument, but I did inventory orders and tracking at my store for 4 years, and it came from the same vendor, same price, same packaging, same smell (you get used to it after that long and can tell when something is different)

  106. unohoo says:

    I brew a damn good cup of coffee in my 40 year old Farberware perk using all purpose grind Chock-full-o-nuts original blend that I buy at the supermarket. I could never figure out what the hoopla over these other coffees was about (other than profit, that is).

  107. KarmaChameleon says:


    Word, their chai tastes like ass. Then again, I think Tazo is just Lipton with fancier packaging.

  108. louveciennes says:

    I’m not talking about when they changed the packaging. I’m talking about before that, when they started using a different vendor. It was some years ago. And I used to work at one, too.

  109. seanblood says:

    hahahaha lol at all of you. mcdonalds using seattles best. three guesses as to who owns seattles best?


  110. ChuckECheese says:

    @unohoo: You forgot to tell the rest of us to get off your lawn.

  111. Elijah-M says:

    @alfundo: DD snob, eh? I know what that’s like. I’m a car snob. I’ve been driving my Yugo for as long as I can remember.

  112. ChuckECheese says:

    Oh–and every Walgreens I passed today while driving around had a sign advertising that they now have coffee for sale, 99¢. Maybe coffee will be the next bubble.

  113. tenio says:

    I always loved DD hot coffee,

    and Md’s iced coffee isn’t too bad, it actually has liquid, SB usually has a little liquid and alot of AIR

  114. sporks says:

    Meh, I’ll stick with my cheapo $1.49 jumbo-ultra sized cup of coffee from the Kwik Shop. They make a fresh batch every hour and it tastes decent, compared to the alternatives. It’s either that or freshly roasted/ground coffee in my coffeemaker, which is of course even cheaper.

    I think the CR report is quite biased, because that BK coffee might taste like mud in one location, and burnt the next, and then normal in the next, and so on with others.

  115. FrugalFreak says:

    I buy my coffee from a local convenience store. They carry Community brand coffee and the store offers 8 different coffee varieties changed every 30 min, they even offer 3 flavor torani syrups, international delight flavored creamers, and fresh chilled half & half. All for $.79 cents for a 34 oz refill in my bubba mug. The premium designer coffee decade should be over already, especially with the recession.

  116. arachnophilia says:

    dear starbucks CEO.

    i want coffee. i don’t care where i get it — but i have two demands:

    1. that it be reasonably priced. it’s, uh, coffee. not a whole meal.

    2. that it be good, or at least decent.

    upon ordering a plain iced coffee at your fine company, i have discovered that, well, your coffee actually kinda sucks. and that’s really all you do, right? coffee. it’s all coffee — you think you could get it right? nope.

    guess what? mcdonalds has better coffee than you. and dunkin donuts? much better. that’s why you’re losing business — premium coffee or not, people are getting bored of premium prices on designer drinks that cover up burnt beans with added flavors.

    and if i want a real coffee house experience, and “premium” coffee, i’m certainly not going to another big fast food corporation such as yourself. i’m going to place that doesn’t just sell the veneer of community, and has real music (not just cds for sale), and… can actually make a coffee.

  117. WesFromMaine says:

    I’m sorry, but McDonald’s, Burger King and Dunkin’ Donuts are NOT on par with the quality and strength of coffee offered at Starbucks. Personally, I prefer a great local roasting company, far better than Starbucks, but the Starbucks CEO IS right: Starbucks coffee IS premium and people that know what good coffee is would know that the fast food joints don’t cut muster. Now, I have had a few cups of joe at McDonald’s when I was too far from a Starbucks or my local roaster, and it is certainly better than Burger King or Dunkin Donuts. Unfortunately I feel many still do not realize that a cup of coffee with 9 hazelnut creamers, 7 packets of sugar and chocolate syrup mixed in is not a true cup and they’re missing out on the flavor and aroma of the mix of beans, amount of roast time etc. I feel the Starbucks CEO spoke very accurately and undoubtedly will lead Starbucks into an even brighter future!

  118. odysseyzine says:

    Lately I’ve been feeling slightly ashamed for loving Burger King’s Coffee. I have actually gone out of my way to get it on occasion.

    I enjoy the good stuff too (you can count me among the Peet’s fans here), but I’ll drink anything if it’s handy — even the sharp, nasty sludge that’s been festering on the burner all day.

    There, I’ve commented away my relevancy to the conversation.

  119. FreeMarketGravy says:

    It’s a weird phenomenon. More often than not, you find that in a place that serves “specialty” items (like Starbucks does with chais and lattes and double-whip half-caf fat free mochachinos or whatever), their “normal” variety of those same items is of very poor quality. I’ve had drinks at Starbucks and overpriced though they are, their specialty drinks are good. Not the best ever, but good.

    I’d never order a regular cup of coffee there, though. Most convenience stores sell coffee for .99 a cup and it’s always been just as good if not better than the two cups of coffee I had at Starbucks.

  120. ltlbbynthn says:

    Starbucks says McD’s isn’t premium because they use SEATTLE’S BEST COFFEE. starbuck’s Competitor!

  121. Bobg says:

    Bitter Coffee? What’s are they talking about? I drink Peets french Roast. Beans as black as coal and oily. The world’s best coffee (bitter and strong.)

  122. BII says:


    having worked there, i can tell you that the coffee and service was better than people were used to. but starbucks got cocky, focused on branding and speed, and lost the passion for coffee.

  123. BII says:


    seattle’s best is owned by starbucks.

  124. darnellswife says:

    I used to get Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha every day. Recently it seems as if my last 5 or 6 cups (or the last 30 bucks of my money) have been bitter and then sweet like syrup on the bottom. I asked ’em what the deal was with that and they were like; oh yeah, you have to request your latte be stirred now because we stopped stirring them to cut down on prep time and since the WCM is already a very dense drink, we don’t stir them. WTF?! I haven’t been back since.

  125. boy do I miss being in college. Green Mountain coffee brew was pretty delish!

  126. EdinaGomez says:

    First let me say that the article…I don’t know what’s wrong with
    their taste buds, but they’re clearly off. For the record, I don’t
    care for uber-strong, bitter coffees…I like a nice, smooth, velvety
    texture to my coffee. Normally I make my own at home with a Flavia
    brewer (Breakfast Blend FTW), but maybe once a month I will splurge.

    I’m in Southern California and…I’ve had coffee from just about every
    possible place except Coffee Bean. Based on drinking the coffee black
    with cream (I don’t put sugar in my coffee):

    Starbucks: Tastes like burnt water. I have no idea how it can be this
    bad when the Frappuccino isn’t nearly as distasteful.

    McDonalds: The old coffee was great. It had a nice, smooth texture
    that had a very light nutty kick to it when you added cream. The
    premium is absolutely disgusting – it’s not like burnt water like
    Starbucks, but the bean strength is way too high. I’d equate it to
    Sumatra – for anyone that knows their coffee. I don’t like a burned
    taste in any case.

    Burger King: It’s been a long time since I drank their coffee and with
    good reason – it has little taste. Doesn’t taste like burnt water,
    but it’s clear that they have no concept of “fresh brewed” or “freshly

    Jack in the Box: again, long time since I drank their coffee, but it
    wasn’t too bad. Not too burnt, but it just had an “off” taste to it
    that I didn’t care for. It’s like they add something to it or
    something…can’t describe it.

    Carls Jr.: long time again…but their coffee also doesn’t taste right.

    Dunkin Donuts: I tried their coffee recently and I wasn’t too
    impressed. I mean it wasn’t terrible but not this legendary coffee
    everyone else was making it out to be. It was basic. Better than
    Starbucks, for sure.

    The thing with coffee is, you can tell if it’s freshly ground or if
    it’s been sitting or was packaged. There’s a distinction in the
    flavor that you can catch if you have the sensitivity for taste.