Starbucks vs. Dunkin’ Donuts: Why pick one over the other?


A-West students have recently revealed their opinions on which coffee chain is the best. Starbucks won this battle over Dunkin’ Donuts as 86% choose Starbucks, but why? Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash.

People have been obsessed with caffeine for generations as it never fails to wake people up at the start of a new day. With so many people being particular with their coffee habits and preferences, the idea of which coffee chain is the best is bound to happen. The two biggest coffee chains are undoubtedly Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts. This intense and long-standing rivalry stirs the question of what chain high school students prefer. 

In a poll conducted involving 145 A-West students, an overwhelming majority preferred Starbucks to Dunkin’ Donuts. With 86% of students stating their favorite coffee chain is Starbucks, it is evident that this is no competition at all, but why is that? Whether students are aware of it or not, their coffee habits are largely based on so much more than just which place has better-tasting coffee.

Statista proves that older generations are more avid coffee drinkers compared to the age range of those in high school, so why do A-West students have such strong opinions on what kind of coffee is best? Generational bias in many cases could be what is causing these strong opinions within teens.

Evidence reveals that there are much more Starbucks in Colorado compared to Dunkin’ Donuts which is a huge cause in determining why people prefer Starbucks over other coffee chains. Photo by Khadeeja Yasser on Unsplash.

When students reflect on why they chose a specific coffee chain over another, many realize that it has something to do with their parent’s influence. This is a strong case of generational bias spoon-fed to kids at a young age.

Explaining why she prefers one coffee chain over the other, sophomore Aowyn Sieler states her favorite depends on “how often I go there because that’s where my parents choose to go.”

It all makes sense, students have preferences because they have been engraved with them at a young age due to their parents. It is clear that Sieler only goes to Starbucks because it is what her parents have always done, causing Dunkin’ Donuts to not even be a part of her picture. 

Another huge bias in determining the preference of one chain over the other would simply be based on how many stores there are in a certain location. It seems that Starbucks drive-thrus are everywhere, sometimes multiple locations are within walking distance from each other while there are rarely any Dunkin’ Donuts locations. 

Spoon University reveals the truth behind this observation because there are 481 Starbucks in Colorado meaning that, “there’s one Starbucks for every 11,765 residents in the state.”

This may come as no shock to many, and QSR Magazine drives the point home when revealing that there is only a minuscule amount of Dunkin’ Donuts in Colorado, 40 to be exact. This further proves why A-West students overwhelmingly prefer Starbucks, there is simply much more around. Students are very aware of this location bias as well as it tends to play a major role in deciding where to get coffee.

Freshman Rachel Nelson explains, “I like Dunkin’ but Starbucks is closer even though it’s more expensive, it is more convenient.”

Nelson and Sieler go to show that whether we are aware of it or not, there are many more factors that go into something as simple as coffee preferences. Generational and location bias play major roles in determining what the people in a given area will more likely go to. 

With all this talk about Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, it seems that only the major corporations are ever talked about. A-West students have also picked up on this idea that smaller coffee businesses are hardly ever acknowledged. 

With big coffee chains being around every corner it is sometimes hard to take the time and try out coffee from smaller, less known shops. For all you know, you might find a new favorite coffee place. Photo by Dmitry Vechorko on Unsplash.

When it comes down to whether or not A-West students would be willing to support these smaller coffee chains, sophomore Lucas Lincoln says, “Absolutely. I love to support small businesses whenever possible because it helps the global economy.”

These smaller coffee chains are hardly ever seen or talked about, it makes sense, it is not easy competing with two major corporations. Sometimes, however, it is nice to have a change. Alyssa Brown with Venue Report has compiled a convenient list of 14 amazing coffee shops in and around Denver to give a try. Straying away from the traditional coffee chains may just help one find a new favorite, but there is of course nothing wrong with sticking to the norm. 

Coffee preferences may not seem that deep, but there are many factors that go into deciding where one might spend money. Coffee is clearly not going anywhere anytime soon as more and more people find a love for caffeine. Only time will tell where the future of coffee chains rests, but one thing is for sure, people will always have a favorite.