Is Mcdonald’s Coffee Better than Starbucks?

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Starbucks may be the world’s largest and best-known coffee chain, but it has some serious competition from McDonald’s.

McCafe is not a fad. They have invested in new coffee machines and have continued to train their staff to ensure the taste and coffee quality while keeping their unmatched speed of service.

But is Mcdonald’s coffee better than Starbucks? Should you get your coffee at Starbucks or McDonald’s, and which one to choose?

Is Mcdonald’s Coffee Better than Starbucks?

It depends on what you are looking for. Mcdonald’s might be the better option if you are not a fan of the burnt dark roasts at Starbucks. McDonald’s is significantly cheaper than Starbucks, you may get more value for money, and their service, on average, is quicker.

Starbucks is the number one choice for coffee, tea, and iced tea choices. The McCafe menu cannot compete with Starbucks’s massive variety of drinks.

Whether you want a hand-shaken espresso, a special frappuccino, or a cold brew, Starbucks has it all The world’s largest coffee house chain is well known for routinely preparing complex and so-called secret menu (off the regular menu) items.

To sum up, which coffee shop is best comes down to what beverage you are looking for and your preferences over price, speed of service, taste, convenience, and the location of the café. Or you may have a favorite barista who correctly writes your name on the cup.

McDonald’s Coffee vs Starbucks

Starbucks and McDonald's logos

How do these coffee rivals compare? Let’s start with the origin of the coffee beans.

1. Coffee Beans

To make the best cup of coffee, you need the best beans. The best beans are grown on farms with the right soil type, temperature, rainfall, and sustainable growing methods.

Like major coffee shops, McDonald’s and Starbucks source their coffee beans from a number of tropical countries in the coffee belt. The best coffee farms are found in the mountainous regions around the equator.

Latin America

The countries of Latin America produce the most coffee beans in the world. These beans contain slightly sweet, nutty, chocolatey flavors and are the origins of most Arabica coffees. Brazil and Colombia are the top producers in the region.


Southeast Asian countries produce beans with an intense, earthy taste.

East Africa

Grains harvested in East Africa provide unique flavors, such as citrus, berries, and spices with floral aromas.

Starbucks and McDonald’s ensure they only use organic beans grown using rigorous, sustainable methods, regardless of where the coffee beans are grown.

2. Roasting

McCafe’s partner is Gavina, one of the world’s leading producers of gourmet coffee. Gavina purchases and roasts the coffee beans before passing them on to McDonald’s.

McDonald’s may be cheaper than Starbucks, but it’s not because they skimp on quality.

Starbucks also offers premium gourmet coffee. However, the roasting and blending processes are all done in-house.

To create the different flavors, each batch of beans is roasted slightly differently. Then the different styles are expertly blended to create a new and unique combination of coffee flavors.

Although their processes are different, both companies have high-quality products.

3. Taste of the Coffee

McDonald’s wants to improve the coffee experience by brewing a fresh pot of premium coffee every 30 minutes. The final product, made from 100 percent freshly ground Arabica beans, is described as simple and satisfying.

Because McDonald’s uses a medium roast rather than a dark roast, the taste is milk or dark chocolate and nuts with a hint of caramel and no burnt taste or excessive bitterness.

This is important for a fast food restaurant that wants to appeal to as many people as possible. The taste is fresh and just right, not bitter and not burnt.

Starbucks offers a much wider variety of coffees, including the newest espresso edition: the popular blond roast.

This has a milder taste if you want to skip the traditional Starbucks dark roast with a strong, robust, and somewhat burnt taste.

At McDonald’s, you’re on the safe side if you regularly need a coffee. On the other hand, Starbucks, with its wider selection of roasted beans, can better satisfy your personal preferences.

4. McCafe Menu vs Starbucks Menu

McCafe and Starbucks coffee cups

A quick look at the Starbucks beverage menu reveals that Starbucks is winning the battle for coffee variety.

To give you an idea of some of the drink varieties Starbucks offers:

In comparison, McCafe offers a smaller selection of specialty drinks like:

  • French Vanilla Cappuccino
  • Latte
  • Americano
  • McDonald’s frappe
  • Hot chocolate
  • Strawberry Banana Smoothie

Overall, the McCafe menu can’t compete with Starbucks’ endless selection of coffees.

If you’re looking for something simple, comfortable, and relaxing, a McCafe drink might be just the thing.

If you want to try something new, Starbucks may have the best menu to please even the most discerning coffee lover.

5. Nutrition

You may think that Starbucks coffee is healthier than McDonald’s coffee simply because of the general reputation of fast-food chains. But after taking a closer look, it turns out that it’s not so much where you get your coffee that matters, but what you order.

At both cafes, customers can reduce the number of calories in their coffee by ordering sugar-free syrup, skim milk, or no whipped cream.

People counting calories as part of a weight loss program or interested in a healthy beverage option would probably not choose either of these beverages due to their high sugar and fat content.

A health-conscious coffee drinker can order a large, black, no-cream, no-calorie coffee from McDonald’s.

Despite McDonald’s reputation for selling unhealthy food and Starbucks’ reputation for offering a popular healthier alternative, the coffee menu at both companies is quite comparable.

When it comes to health, it’s not so much the location that counts. What matters is the product you order.

6. Cost

On cost alone, McDonald’s offers a great product at a much better price and a better value for money.

Each chain is based on a specific business model. McDonald’s prides itself on offering fast, cheap food. Starbucks advertises a trendy product and uses higher prices to enhance its image of serving only quality products.

However, a higher price does not always mean a better product.

7. Service

A significant part of McDonald’s success is its ability to deliver the meal to the customer within minutes of ordering.

On the other hand, Starbucks is known for its long lines, confusing order and pickup sequence, and the occasional risk of someone inadvertently taking the ordered coffee.

That has changed with mobile ordering and payment apps that you can download to your phone. Now you can pre-order at these two fast food restaurants using their mobile app and avoid the lines.

Faster at the next coffee shop. Try the McDonald’s app and the Starbucks app and download them today. These apps make your life more comfortable and earn you rewards.

8. Convenience

Regardless of price or other menu options, many people choose their morning coffee based on which fast food chain is most accessible and offers the quickest service.

We may love the local coffee shop and its charm, but we probably won’t drive across town to visit it before work. If you are in a hurry, a coffee chain’s quick service on your way to work or near work might be your first choice.

After walking around the downtown or taking a short drive in most U.S. suburbs, you can easily find a coffee shop near you.

Final Thoughts

So is McDonald’s coffee better than Starbucks? It depends on what you are looking for. Both cafes have pros and cons, as highlighted in this article.

There is more than one reason to switch coffee from McDonald’s to Starbucks and vice versa! Whether it’s variety, taste, price, staff, or location, there’s a good coffee choice for everyone.