Don’t Press Snooze
by Bethany McKenna

When that obnoxious alarm goes off in the morning, a couple of things usually run through most people’s minds; either you want to chuck the alarm across the room or grab a cup of coffee to get your day started right. I once read that coffee is the world’s most popular stimulant. In fact, I learned in a previous Marketing class that four out of five Americans drink it, consuming more than 400 million cups a day. When I think about coffee, two competitive franchises come to mind; Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts. In order to fairly compare the two I have chosen three criterion that would seem most important to a college student craving that morning buzz; variety, location, and price. When it comes down to variety and location, Starbucks is superior- you just can’t beat their selection and convenience.
Starbucks has quite an array of beverages. If you are looking for just a regular cup of Joe, your best bet would be either a “mild” or “bold” coffee. The bold coffee is blasted with caffeine, good for someone who is somewhat of a struggler in the morning, while the mild is suited best for someone looking for your average dose of caffeine. Starbucks is also very well known for its rather upscale specialty beverages such as lattes, macchiatos, frappechinos, and espresso along with flavors based on the current season such as Pumpkin Spice Latte for the fall. They also offer an employee’s beverage and pastry recommendation each day to assist you in selecting a tasty treat. To go along with an exceptional selection of beverages, there are pasties to compliment each line of flavorful drinks. For instance, a slice of pumpkin loaf is great when combined with the Pumpkin Spice Latte. With an endless supply of options it is often hard to make a choice because everything sounds so delectable.
Dunkin Donuts, on the other hand, is a great place to go if you are a little more traditional and don’t want the hassle of determining what foreign sounding beverage is what. They do carry regular coffee, but rather than catering to every category of caffeinated beverage, they choose to offer flavor injectors or boosters. These are plastic bottles with a pump lid each filled with the artificial liquid flavor of your choice. The employee simply fills a cup with regular coffee and squeezes about two pumps of this liquid into your cup and continues to add the desired amount of cream and sugar. The upside is that these flavors are sugar free and have no preservatives. The end result is a pretty decent cup of coffee. This is a much cheaper approach to flavoring a coffee but it seems to work for them. Flavors include Blueberry, Coconut, Cinnamon, Mocha, Caramel, Marshmallow, French Vanilla, Raspberry, and Hazelnut. Dunkin Donuts also offers flavored lattes like Gingerbread and Eggnog for the holidays, Caramel, French Vanilla and cappuccino. Their selection of breakfast food is much more advanced because Dunkin Donuts focuses more on being a breakfast and coffee stop. They have a variety of bagels, muffins, cookies, breakfast sandwiches, and munchkins. After all, the name is Dunkin Donuts.
Location is usually a key factor when deciding where to stop for coffee on your way to class or work. Time is money and since Starbucks is conveniently located right across the street from campus next to the Village Bookstore, it frees up more time to do things such as studying, getting to class early, or other leisure activity. If you find yourself getting drowsy in class, it’s just a leap away, giving you enough time to get back to class while on your ten minute break. Other than the Trade Street location, you can find Starbucks just about anywhere. The company’s franchises include giant sized kiosks in the malls, baristas in heavily trafficked work areas, or large franchises on popular street corners.
On the other hand, in terms of location and student’s free time, Dunkin Donuts is much harder to reach in the Charlotte area. Nevertheless, if you are a big fan, traveling the distance may be worth it to you. The one current location close to downtown is actually five miles away on Kings Boulevard. This may sound like a low key area but if you are familiar with the streets that surround uptown, Kings Boulevard is a heavily trafficked region of town and terrible for morning rush hour traveling. I would not recommend making this drive if you have an early class to get to. Fortunately Dunkin Donuts has finally decided to move into the uptown area. Currently, plans for a new site are beginning for the intersection of West Fifth and Graham Street which is next to CVS right down the street from City View Apartments. This new spot will be a great location for students and probably give Starbucks a run for their money.
That brings me to my third and final criterion. Price is by far the most important aspect for a college student that often has a low disposable income. Many of us are working hard for our dollar and find it difficult to stomach paying the price for an every day addiction such as coffee. Starbucks is relatively high priced. A customer could expect to pay anywhere from $1.89 for a very plain cup of coffee to $4.40 for a specialty cup. These prices are not including taxes which are the real killer. By the time you walk out, you have paid close to $5.00 for a cup of coffee.
At Dunkin Donuts you can walk away with a coffee and bagel for the same price that a large cup of coffee costs you at Starbucks. Prices vary from $1.57 for a small cup to $1.94 for a large, which is substantially cheaper than its competitor. If you are willing to drive the extra mile, Dunkin Donuts is the deal for you. However, sometimes convenience does pay for itself.
Now that I have you craving caffeine, consider these things the next time you make your daily coffee stop. When it comes down to variety and location, Starbucks is superior- you just can’t beat their selection and convenience. Although the price may hit your bank account rather hard, you will probably agree that it is worth it as soon as the product hits your lips.