The McDonald’s/Starbucks non-story

Well, it’s not a non-story, but the reality is certainly different than the one being tossed around the internet.

Some back ground: Consumer Reports did a taste test of the brewed coffee from four different fast food places – Starbucks, McDonald’s, Burger King, and Dunkin’ Donuts.

Their findings?

Try McDonald’s, which was cheapest and best, or make your own coffee–just call it something special. The other three were all only OK, but for different reasons.

Okay, so they prefer McDonald’s over Starbucks. That, in of itself is no big deal. But the comparison became a quick and easy headline (McDonald’s Better than Starbucks!!) that took off and was repeated in many different places.

So while the idea that McDonalds’ brewed coffee was better than Starbucks’ brewed coffee is kind of interesting, it ignores two basic facts.

  1. Starbucks primarily sells espresso and espresso based drinks. Their brewed coffee probably makes up a small percentage of their sales (I’m guessing in the single digits).
  2. McDonald’s does not sell espresso and espresso based drinks. Their coffee products are brewed only.

In short, the conclusions drawn from Consumer Reports are notable, but the press narrative based off of those conclusions are completely wrong. Wake me up when McDonald’s gets an espresso machine.

And damn them all for making me defend Starbucks!

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