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Dunkin Donuts vs. Starbucks Fall Drink Menu

Thanks to the discount I receive at the Starbucks at work and my obsession with Dunkin’s dark roast coffee, I was able to taste test both of the store’s fall menus and save you all the time and money.

This season, Starbucks continued tradition and offered their infamous Pumpkin Spice Latte. I won’t go into detail about the PSL, as I’m pretty sure everyone on the planet has their mind made up about the drink by now. Dunkin, however, does not offer a pumpkin spice option. Instead, they opt for a pumpkin syrup that can be added to any drink. So, I will be comparing Starbucks’ PSL to Dunkin’s pumpkin-flavored syrup. Both drinks are rich and sweet, but Starbucks has perfected the essence of pumpkin-flavored drinks, while there’s only so much a simple syrup can do to enhance coffee.

Both Starbucks and Dunkin released a Maple Pecan Latte this season. Starbucks offers it hot and iced, which were both delicious. The pecan was not overpowering and the maple was not overly sweet. I thought of this drink as the perfect substitute for those who don’t enjoy the taste of PSL’s. Dunkin’s Maple Pecan Latte was not as sweet as Starbucks, and in my opinion, the pecan flavoring was absent altogether. The latte had little taste other than Dunkin’s original blend roast, so I wouldn’t consider this drink festive enough to brand itself as a fall menu item.

In addition to their Maple Pecan Latte, Starbucks also rolled out a new twist on an old favorite: The Salted Caramel Mocha. Typically, I don’t enjoy caramel drinks because I think the syrup is too concentrated and makes the flavor overpowering. However, since the caramel was complemented by the mocha and the sugary taste was balanced by the salt blended into the drink, I thought the Salted Caramel Mocha was a delightful drink that I enjoyed served hot and as a Frappuccino. The Salted Caramel Mocha did not have a Dunkin competitor. Although I did purchase their only other fall menu drink, the pumpkin-flavored Macchiato, and I was disappointed by the distinguishable lack of pumpkin it had to offer.

Ultimately, I got what I paid for and concluded that Starbucks’ drinks were superior to Dunkin’s. After all, Starbucks is the motherland of festive, sugary drinks. I’m devastated that I’m betraying Dunkin, but I now know that if I want a sugar-rush of festive flavoring I’ll head to Cabell library and brave the Starbucks line. If I’m craving coffee for the sake of caffeine and familiar taste, I’ll walk the five extra minutes to the Dunkin Donuts on West Broad Street. 

Photo Credit: Cover Image, 1 taken by Adrian Knighting

Taylor is a junior at VCU majoring in English and caffeinated beverages. She likes reading books and writing short fiction as well as marathoning terrible reality television shows.
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