Feeling like a grande Frappuccino to cool off at the end of the day? What about a medium Coolatta? Are you a trendy West Coast coffee connoisseur, or a down-to-earth East Coast worker-bee?
The battle royal for your morning java wages on, with Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks going all out in an ever-expanding territorial war to capture America’s hearts, minds, and coffee breaks.
(DISCLOSURE: This article was written in a Saxby’s.)
The Seattle coffee giant has an edge, with 11,100 stores in this country alone — in addition to 20,000 total across six different continents, and $13 billion in yearly sales. The Baltimore-based Dunkin’ isn’t far behind, with 7,200 U.S. locations and plans to double to 15,000 within the next few years. They total 10,000 global stores in 32 countries, and hit just about $9 billion in global sales.
Though both started small and have grown into behemoth multi-national corporations, “they have very distinct images,” explains Harvard Business School professor Nancy F. Koehn. Starbucks, she says, “is rooted in the Italian coffee bar experience. Dunkin’s is more centered on a cup of joe.”
Brand faithfuls are loyal to their morning stop, whichever it may be, and are pretty adamant about how much the other one sucks. (Who could forget Dunkin’s “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drink Starbucks” T-shirt?) Dunkin’ sippers complain about how Starbucks is burned and bitter, while Starbucks faithfuls turn their noses up at Dunkin’s less sophisticated fast-food style atmosphere and weaker coffee.
The Boston Globe recently charted-out the territorial war — mapping out Starbucks locations in green, and Dunkin’ orange. Though each still holds a stronghold around its region of origin, both are expanding — Starbucks heading rapidly Eastward, and Dunkin’ creeping towards the West. In nearly all areas, Starbucks claims the more urban and upscale neighborhoods, with Dunkin’ hitting the blue collar areas, and the surrounding suburbs.
Boston is Dunkin’ country, through and through. SO MANY Coolattas.
Sad times for those Congressmen who like their Dunkin — the District is a Starbucks stronghold, with 80 locations to Dunkin’s 12.
New York is a cultural battleground, with Starbucks fighting hard for the high-rent city spots, and Dunkin’ sprawling out through the commuter neighborhoods. But while the battle for the city is still close — 240 Starbucks to 350 Dunkin’, this is a solid orange state, with Dunkin’ winning at 1,200 locations to Starbucks’ 500.
This is Frappuccino Frontier, painted green with Starbucks faithfuls. But not for long — Dunkin’ has plans to expand to the West as soon as 2015.
To no one’s surprise, Seattle = Starbucks.
The interesting side-effect to the ever-continuing rivalry is the growth of the little guy — ever since Starbucks jump-started coffee in America to be something more than that crusty can of Folgers that sat at the back of your freezer for years, coffee culture has exploded. Hundreds of local coffee shops have begun sprouting up across the country, offering a gourmet alternative and a personal touch for those poor junkies who are neither green nor orange.
What do you think? Are you a Starbucks, or a Dunkin’… or are you too cool for both?