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January 30, 2015 05:12 PM

Photo Illustration by Linzi Silverman; Photos Provided by Getty

Welcome to the Super Bowl of coffee.

The teams for this year’s football championship hail from Seattle and New England, which also happen to be the birth places of Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, respectively. And since we’re shamelessly obsessed with food and drinks — okay, and attractive men — we simply had to pit the two coffee giants against each other in the ultimate java smackdown.

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Which is better: Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts?

We taste-tested each chain’s coffee, iced coffee, food and more — as well as took into consideration the matter of hometown pride — to find a champion.

Hold on to your cups.

REGULAR COFFEE

Winner: Starbucks

When it comes to a no-frills, good ol’ cup-of-joe, Starbucks has Dunkin’ beat. Starbucks has a stronger, more robust flavor that a tester said “would definitely wake me up in the morning.” Said another staffer: “It’s like a shot of energy in a cup.” And also because “Dunkin’ coffee is so mild that it doesn’t really taste like anything,” said a tester.

ICED COFFEE

Winner: Dunkin’ Donuts

Dunkin’ must make a stronger brew for its iced coffee: Testers really liked DD’s chilly, smooth flavor, and were put off by Starbucks’ “burnt after-taste,” as one tester said. Plus, the massive 32-oz. vessel that Dunkin’ uses for a large iced coffee blows Starbucks’s venti out of the water — you’re getting more bang for your buck with DD and, you know, this is America, so the bigger cup is the clear victor.

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SEASONAL DRINKS

Winner: Starbucks

There’s no competing with Starbucks’ on-point seasonal beverage game, even with DD’s new cookie-flavored coffees. The arrival of Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte has come to signify the beginning of autumn (even when it hit Starbucks’ menus in balmy August) — it’s inspired an Oreo flavor (along with countless other orange-colored products), late-night host rants (still holding out for that PSL iPhone, Jimmy Kimmel) and it’s even been deep fried (America’s star treatment for favorite foods).

Even if your not a fan of PSL’s sweet, subtle pumpkin flavor, you can’t argue with the fact that it’s become an American institution, much like belfies and shots of Fireball. And you can’t beat that, DD, not even with a “way-too-sugary tasting” (said one tester) Snickerdoodle Latte.

FROZEN DRINKS

Winner: Dunkin’ Donuts

It’s a close call in the Frappuccino vs. Coolatta battle, but ultimately DD’s creamy Coolattas take the win. Frappuccinos are pricier — they can cost up to $6, or $60, if you’re this person — and icier than DD’s smooth frozen drink. One tester remarked that Coolattas had a “more pleasant, milder coffee flavor” than Frappuccinos, which tasted too-strongly of espresso. Plus, Dunkin’ offers way more flavors, everything from mocha to strawberry — even Oreo (which always wins in our book).

TEA

Winner: Starbucks

Starbucks’ line of Oprah Winfrey’s wonderfully delicious teas are a clear winner against Dunkin’s fruit-flavored, “watery-tasting” (said one tester) brews. No surprise there, Oprah always wins.

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HOT CHOCOLATE

Winner: Dunkin’ Donuts

While neither establishment serves up the wonderment that is homemade s’mores hot chocolate, Dunkin’s yummy, warm-you-right-up cocoa is much better than Starbucks’ “bitter, borderline-unpleasant recipe.” (As one tester described it.)

BREAKFAST SANDWICHES

Winner: Starbucks

While neither one of these coffee chains is going to win any best-breakfast-sandwich-in-town awards — and basically anything you make in your own kitchen is pretty much guaranteed to taste better — Starbucks takes the win for one major reason: bread. The English muffins, bagels, wraps and other assorted carbohydrates that sandwich Dunkin’s breakfast offerings are pretty bleak, with “an airplane food-like quality and stale flavor,” said a staffer. Starbucks’ sandwiches don’t deserve any medals, but the croissants are buttery, the English muffins are soft and “the wraps taste nutritious enough.” Another staffer said: “I still feel like I can get something relatively healthy for breakfast at Starbucks, that also tastes good, but at Dunkin’ — no way.”

DOUGHNUTS

Winner: Dunkin’ Donuts

With Starbucks’ refusal to provide us doughnut eaters with anything besides a “sad and not-very-tasty old-fashioned” glazed (okay, and maybe the occasional random chocolate variety), Dunkin’s sprinkle-topped, cookie-dough filled, jelly-plopped treats — yes, okay, even the don’t-call-me-a-Cronut Croissant-Donut — are victorious. We’ll happily stuff our faces with the “phenomenal guilty pleasures” (as one tester said) any day. Bonus points for coming out with heart-shaped doughnuts for Valentine’s Day, DD.

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HOMETOWN PRIDE

Winner: Starbucks

It’s assumed that no one could have more hometown pride than New Englanders (no, not even you, Texans), Starbucks often shows way too much favoritism toward the west coast — seasonal drinks are released there first, its new delivery service is debuting in the Pacific Northwest and the company just unveiled a blue and green Frappuccino to support the Seahawks this Super Bowl. Your move, Dunkin’.

VERDICT

Super Bowl Coffee Smackdown Champion: Starbucks

Sorry Patriots, numbers don’t lie: Starbucks has Oprah, Pumpkin Spice Lattes and coffee that tastes like coffee.

Don’t agree with our champion? Let us know.

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—Morgan Gibson

 

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