Just in case you don’t already know, the coffee war down south had just spilled over the border to Canada.
A few months ago, McDonalds setting its sights on Starbucks fired the opening salvo by putting up billboards that proclaimed “four bucks is dumb”. Dozens of these billboards were erected in the Washington state and from what I read, there is even one erected right in front of the Starbucks HQ in Seattle. It was direct confrontation of the specialty coffee market in the US.
Last week, the coffee war came to Canada when McDonalds announced that you could get a free coffee during breakfast time in all outlets for a duration of two weeks. Starbucks reacted with a feeble attempt by giving free coffee for just a few hours.
Suanne and I do not normally buy coffee. We make coffee at home and there is also a Starbucks coffee dispenser at work. Two cups in the morning is just about the max we consume everyday.
Last Sunday, we decided to go check out what the fuss was. We woke up early, very early and drove to the Starbucks at Ironwood and bought a cup of Starbucks regular coffee.
We then brought it across the parking lot to the McDonalds outlets to get the free coffee. OK, Suanne was afraid of being caught taking a Starbucks coffee into McDonalds, getting a free cuppa and then take pictures. It was quite obvious what we were doing to the people around us. LOL!
Bear with me OK? I am no coffee expert but this is just my way of comparing McDonalds coffee with Starbucks. First off, we are comparing apple-to-apple. Both cups are small coffee (McDonalds Canada does not have espresso yet, I think).
Size wise, Starbucks wins with its taller cup, slightly wider cup.
The Starbucks cup costs $1.65 while McDonalds is 22% cheaper at $1.29. McDonalds wins.
The cup in McDonalds I heard was a new design which does not require a sleeve … Starbucks does. While the sleeve was made of recycled materials, still it is another piece of garbage that needed to be handled by the system. McDonalds wins here.
Starbucks lid is of simpler design. I like the McDonalds one which has a pullback tab which helps keep the coffee hot a tad longer. McDonalds wins.
You probably read about how big a problem these coffee cups are to the environment. They had largely managed to figure out making the cups environment friendly but the biggest problem is with the plastic lids. They still have no solution to making a viable cheap alternative to the plastic lids.
Oh, there are now proposals to start taxing plastic bottle (I know I am digressing here) in Vancouver. I think it’s a great idea but I know the Vancouver City Hall is up against powerful industry lobby groups.
And now to the coffee. Starbucks serve the coffee with just the right temperature. I can just drink it the moment I get it. For McDonalds’, it was scalding hot when we got it that we had to carefully sip it in the beginning. Starbucks wins.
Starbucks will hand you a cup and lets you add in your own sugar and cream — and you get to chose what creamer you want. In McDonalds, they ask you if you want sugar and cream and adds it for you. You, of course , could add in more if you want but what if you wanted less. OK, Starbucks wins.
Taste wise … heck, I don’t know! Suanne says they taste the same … no difference. I felt Starbucks tastes like 2.4% better because I tasted a hint of bitterness in McDonalds’s cup. Starbucks wins.
Smell wise Starbucks has a stronger coffee smell and so I gotta give it to Starbucks. Starbucks wins.
Give me a sec while I tally up the score …
OK, ladies and gentlemen … according to the Chowtimes-Coffee-O-Meter, the winner is Starbucks.
Starbucks wins 5-3.
Seriously, you should go grab your free coffee from McDonalds while it last (until May 2nd, I think). You don’t have to buy anything … just go up to the counter or drive-in and ask for one.