- Starbucks and Dunkin’ Doughnuts have long competed as two of the biggest coffee chains in the world.
- Now, Dunkin’ is becoming more like the slightly-more-upscale Starbucks with a major rebrand that includes a new store design, drinks like nitro-infused cold brew, and digital-ordering kiosks.
- We compared one of the remodeled Dunkin’ stores to a Starbucks location, and one store had a few advantages over the other.
Now, Dunkin’ is becoming more like the slightly-more-upscale Starbucks with a major rebrand, starting with a name change. The Massachusetts-based coffee empire began testing the name “Dunkin'” – without the “Doughnuts” – at a handful of Massachusetts locations late last year, beginning with one in Quincy, according to Eater. Now the name change is being tested at 30 locations in Boston and 20 others elsewhere.
The Dunkin’ concept is part of a major rebrand that includes a new store design, drinks like nitro-infused cold brew, and digital-ordering kiosks. Starbucks, on the other hand, has been offering nitro cold brew since 2016.
The Dunkin’ concept isn’t necessarily a permanent change. While it will be rolling out to about 50 stores, Dunkin’ Doughnuts said in a statement that it didn’t plan to make any decisions about the branding until later this year.
We visited one of the new Dunkin’ stores in New York City and compared it to a Starbucks in a different part of town. Here’s the verdict:
First, I went to the new Dunkin’ store in Times Square.
Like at the other remodeled stores, the sign said only Dunkin’ — not Dunkin’ Doughnuts.
The inside of the Dunkin’ wasn’t too different from a traditional Dunkin’ Doughnuts. The biggest difference was how much more minimalist the store was. The only hint of pink or orange was on the logo. Some remodeled stores will have digital-ordering kiosks in addition to cashiers.
This particular location had a lot of similarities with the older Dunkin’ stores, including the menu and food displays.
The store was pretty small, and all of the food was kept in a glass display case next to the register.
The seating area was small and pretty simple. Just a few tables and chairs were set up, but they were almost all full. It didn’t seem like a place you could spend a lot of time at.
One of the biggest changes rolling out in the Dunkin’ test is the addition of a tap system for cold drinks.
The cold drinks on tap include nitro cold brew, cold brew, original-blend coffee, dark-roast coffee, decaf, green tea, and iced tea.
I tried the cold brew from the new tap system, and it was great. It didn’t taste bitter, but it still was strong. It was ice-cold and super refreshing, and it cost $US3.49.
Next I went to a Starbucks in the Financial District.
The store was about the same size as Dunkin’, but the interior was a lot darker and quieter.
The menu and food displays were very similar to Dunkin’.
While the Dunkin’ menu shows almost all of the menu items, Starbucks’ only shows a handful of popular items.
The seating at Starbucks was a lot nicer than at Dunkin’. There was more space, there were booths instead of solid chairs, and the lighting was much more subdued. There were also individual tables as opposed to a few large tables, so there was more privacy in that regard.
Starbucks didn’t have the same cold-drink taps next to the register that Dunkin’ did, but there were a lot more small snacks like candy and granola bars to choose from.
I ordered a small cold brew from Starbucks. It was just as cold and refreshing as the Dunkin’ cold brew, but it was definitely more bitter. It also had a stronger coffee taste and didn’t seem as watered down as the Dunkin’ cold brew. I preferred it because it was stronger coffee, and it cost $US3.21, making it less expensive than Dunkin’s cold brew.
The newly remodeled Dunkin’ store definitely seemed like a step up from the old store design, and the cold drinks it offered from the tap system were great. But Starbucks had a nicer atmosphere to spend time in and better coffee for less money, making it the clear winner.
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