Off-Topic: McDonald’s Coffee > Starbucks Coffee

Over at Ezra Klein, the yuppies are in a tizzy:

But Matt misses the neighborhood effects. It’s a pretty sure bet that if you live near a Starbucks, you also live near a $8 sandwich shop. And probably another $8 sandwich shop. You’re not far, I’d imagine, from frozen yogurt, or maybe an artisanal chocolate store. There’ll be a sushi place that makes rolls with names like “volcano roll” and “ninja roll.” There might be a Whole Foods around the corner. If not, then a Trader Joes. Certainly someone will sell you Balsamic vinegar.

This isn’t desert island development. Yuppies want to live near Starbucks because Starbucks denotes areas friendly to yuppies. There are, of course, exceptions. The McDonald’s on 14th and U is actually closer to yuppie-Mecca Busboys and Poets than the Starbucks on 13th and U. But the Starbucks on 14th and Irving is in spitting distance from a New Haven-style pizzeria and a Five Guy’s.

Oh, the self-congratulation is almost unbearable… Read the comments. The derision about McDonald’s is so thick you could cut it with a shovel.

But it belies a more important point. McDonald’s makes better coffee. I’m not just spouting off my own opinions here (although I certainly agree), Consumer Reports said so.

  • Jeff Molby

    You weren’t kidding when you said “off-topic” =P

  • Joshua Holmes

    Starbucks or McDonalds, I think we can all agree that Five Guys is fucking awesome.

  • MrWho

    That consumer report was in March ’07, more than a year before Starbucks released its likable-to-the-average-Joe daily brew, Pike Place Roast.

    Why can’t you find some other article to quote, rather than one that’s two years old that certainly no longer applies?

  • Brad Warbiany


    I’ve done some looking around, and can’t find a survey more recent… The remarks agree with my own taste buds as well; while I drink straight black coffee and like it strong, the Starbucks is usually exceedingly burnt & bitter, while the McDonald’s is pretty consistently balanced in its strength.

    So if you have a more recent taste test (from a reputable source — i.e. that’s why I’m posting the Consumer Reports test), by all means provide a link.

  • Nick M.

    I finally had the opportunity to try Starbuck’s new coffee last weekend after a mountain bike race. I have to admit, it changed my opinion slightly on Starbucks coffee. I drink my coffee black and this was actually half way decent. They must not sell it all the time or at all the Starbucks though. The same person that bought the coffee on Sunday, brought me a cup Monday afternoon, and it was the typical burnt shit. I’ll stick with McDonald’s.

  • Nick M.

    Yeah, that second post wasn’t me.

  • Brad Warbiany


    Duly noted and taken care of… I saw it and thought it suspicious.

  • Patrick Pierce

    Umm…throwing Trader Joe’s (where I work) in with Whole Foods (also known as Whole Paycheck) shouldn’t be done. Trader Joe’s focuses on high quality regular food at the best prices available. Not like Whole Foods which specializes in pseudoscientific “natural” and “holistic” supplements and grocery products that are marketed in a trendy way and terribly overpriced. I’m sorry I don’t have any comments about coffee (except that at Starbucks you aren’t paying for the coffee, you’re paying for the atmosphere and brand name). I just get so frustrated at the erroneous grouping of Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. Trader Joe’s is more like Walmart and Whole Foods is more like Nordstrom’s.

  • greg

    McDonald’s or Starbucks? Is this a trick question? Like death by anthrax or smallpox?

  • Nick M.

    Trader Joe’s blows. I live right by one and used to drive 10 miles north to get to Sprouts. Now that a Sunflower Market has oepned, I don’t have to. Trader Joes is overpriced for limited quantities. Who buys (4) tomatoes or (4) apples? Everything there is packaged for you. I prefer Sunflower and Sprouts. They have gobs and gobs of fruits and vegetable at dirt cheap prices.