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Starbucks vs. Dunkin’: Holiday Edition

Starbucks and Dunkin’ are the most iconic names in American coffee, and they are constantly competing for the top spot. Fans of Starbucks swear by it and often refuse to drink Dunkin, and vice versa. The holidays are quickly approaching, and both companies have released their featured flavors. There’s nothing I love more than combining my love of caffeine with my love of Christmas, and I have taken it upon myself to try and rank every seasonal drink from Starbucks and Dunkin’ on a scale from 1-10. I’m very strict with my coffee order, I usually get an iced latte with almond milk and no flavoring, so I’m going into this with no conflicting opinions. Like any good researcher, I want to admit my own bias, I love Starbucks and it will always be my number one. However, I am not at all opposed to Dunkin’ so I will be going into this process as unbiased and open as possible.

Dunkin’ Peppermint Mocha Latte  Score: 3

In Dunkin’s defense, there is nothing I personally dislike more in a coffee than mocha. Mocha reminds me of when I first started drinking coffee at 14 and how much of an amateur I was back then. I also am not in love with peppermint. However, it was a very festive drink and made me feel quite cheerful, even though my tastebuds didn’t love it.

Starbucks Peppermint Mocha Latte  Score: 4 

I have never tried either of the peppermint mocha lattes from either Dunkin’ or Starbucks in the past holiday seasons, so I was going into this with no expectations. It may be my bias, or the baristas talking, but I enjoyed the peppermint mocha latte from Starbucks slightly more than the one offered at Dunkin’. To be clear, I really didn’t enjoy either one, but they both put me in a festive mood, and the Starbucks latte just had a little extra something.

Dunkin’ Caramel Craze Latte  Score: 7 

Dunkin’s caramel craze latte was very sweet but also very good. This drink is like a dessert, there is a lot of caramel, and if you get it with whipped cream it’s even better. If you’re looking for something extra sweet this season, the caramel craze latte is definitely for you. After drinking this latte I understood why people are so obsessed with flavored coffees.

Starbucks Caramel Brûlée Latte  Score: 8 

My all-time favorite dessert is crème brûlée. I love cracking the top with a spoon and eating it with whipped cream, and I usually eat it every year on my birthday, so I went into this experience with very high expectations. The caramel brûlée latte had that carmelized sugar taste that I love about real crème brûlée. Starbuck’s caramel brûlée latte gets a point higher than Dunkin’s caramel craze latte because the caramel brûlée latte is a bit more festive than the caramel craze and put me in a more festive mood. 

Dunkin’ Sugarplum Macchiato  Score: 4

When I heard about Dunkin’ releasing this purple sugarplum macchiato, I was intrigued. Even though I don’t love flavoring in my coffee, I sometimes get an iced latte with one pump of blueberry from Dunkin if I’m feeling funky. The sugarplum macchiato is a mix of blueberry, raspberry, blackberry, plum and vanilla. To me, that sounds disgusting, but I gave it a try and it didn’t completely turn my stomach. The sugarplum macchiato is definitely a slow sipper, you can not chug this drink, and you may not even be able to finish it because of its sweetness. One cool aspect of the drink is that it is purple on the bottom, but can turn the drink a weird greenish color when mixed through. Gives off mixed berry tart vibes.

Starbucks Chestnut Praline Latte  Score:10 

I’m not quite sure what it is about the chestnut praline latte at Starbucks, but it is very delicious. It is also very, very sweet. I can’t even really pinpoint what this latte tastes like (other than chestnut praline) but whatever those two flavors are, they’re delicious when mixed together. I’m not sure what the topping is that they put on this latte, but it is so good, I wish I could put it over ice cream. The chestnut praline latte is definitely a top tier holiday favorite and honestly tastes like Christmas. It kind of brought me back to Christmas as a kid and a taste I knew I had had before but couldn’t place.

I have been doing this little experiment since the holiday flavors came out in November, and figured that 2020 could use a little extra cheer. I do feel like I’ve been on a sugar load the past month and glad that my research is concluded. In my opinion, I enjoyed more of Starbuck’s holiday drinks compared to Dunkin’, but I swear I didn’t let my bias creep in. Happy Holidays!

Grace Christopher

Kent State '22

Grace Christopher is a Graduate student in Journalism and Mass Communication at Kent State University. She graduated from Youngstown State University in May with her Bachelor's in History and Political Science.
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