Starbucks Vs. Dunkin’ Donuts: Yes or No?

February 12, 2011 at 8:21 PM (Musings) (, , )

You’re right: it doesn’t really seem like a “yes or no” situation.  Hear me out, though.  When I worked at Starbucks, every now and then we’d have district-wide meetings to discuss seasonal changes, company updates and the 200th or so reminder that we were not competing with Dunkin’ Donuts. Starbucks vs. Dunkin' Donuts showdown. Who wins? This is always something that has baffled me to a degree: for instance, in spring 2008, the company launched Pike Place Roast (after we were reminded that Dunks was not a competitor).  My first thought?  “This is the closest thing we have to Dunkin’ Donuts.”

Over time, I’ve come to the conclusion that while Starbucks may have claimed that it wasn’t competing with Dunky D, it ultimately comes to how it’s perceived by the consumers.  And for the most part, consumers place the two brands in competition with one another.  Although, now I think I also see where the ‘Bucks is coming from. The two brands are so distinctly different when it comes to coffee: a Starbucks drinker thinks Dunks is too weak, and a Dunkin’ Donuts drinker considers the ‘Bucks too strong.  Sure, Starbucks is pricier, but I’ll cough up the cash for my iced coffee given the option between the two because I just prefer a stronger coffee.

Now, that all said, I don’t know what’s going on behind the corporate doors of the mighty Dunkin’ Donuts.  Given their latest branding campaign in Mass., I would guess that they’re pitting themselves against Starbucks, but given that I never worked there, I wouldn’t know.

Dunkin' Donuts Celtics cup!?

What do you think?  Is Dunkin’ Donuts turning up the heat on Starbucks?  If so, what are they accomplishing by appearing as the Starbucks doppelganger?

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Bad Coffee Joke

November 25, 2010 at 3:35 PM (Musings) (, , )

Happy Thanksgiving!  On to something much more important: my hit-and-miss sense of humour.

While I’m home for the holiday, Mom was great enough to save some Starbucks coffee for me.  What I didn’t realise was that this actually an accomplishment for her: the Colombian coffee, a medium roast, was too strong for her. Starbucks Kenya coffee label elephant For her to palate the stuff, she had to cut it with Maxwell House.  I know, I shed a tear when I heard it, too.  My response?

“Mom, be happy you didn’t get Kenya [a bold coffee]: that stuff so strong it can wake up the elephant on the bag!”

Per usual, I thought it was a hit, but everyone else seemed to miss it.

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And So Ends a Chapter (I Hope)

August 5, 2010 at 12:40 AM (Happenings) (, )

1. Good Lord, I haven’t posted in ages.  Why, I even managed to miss my blog’s 2nd birthday!  I’m such a terribly inattentive blogger.  I promise I’ll try to be better.

2. Because I know you all give two hoots about everything going on in my life, I may as well quell the rumours now . . .

I have in fact quit Starbucks.

It was three years, one month and two weeks of my life that I spent learning how to make triple-venti bone-dry 200-degree cappuchinos with two-and-a-half Equals and how to deal with their respective customers, and most of me is glad to be tentatively finished – we’re still waiting on a job offer that severs my ties with the mighty Siren forever – but there is a small remainder that will miss that green apron.  Starbucks was the longest job I’ve ever held, the rest being temporary jobs and internships, and a good portion of memories and accompanying friends can be attributed to my experiences there.

I would like to thank all of my colleagues and regulars – past and present – who made most days at the ‘Bucks pleasantly bearable most days.  I wish you all the best in your caffeinated futures, and that if our paths should cross in the future, I still won’t be wearing that green apron.

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The Dilemma of the Internet at Starbucks Query

May 20, 2010 at 5:15 PM (Miscellaneous, Musings) (, , )

Relatively frequently, customers come into Starbucks and ask about Wi-Fi.  How do they connect?  Is it free?  The simple answer is yes.  Ish.  It depends.

Okay, perhaps simple, but definitely not clear.  And herein lies our problem, mused the baristi of a busy Starbucks on Boylston St.Starbucks logo siren Cue informative blog post, courtesy of yours, truly (or so I hope).

There are two methods of accessing the internet at Starbucks: for free* or not for free.  Easy decision, right?

But wait!  What’s that asterisk??  Note:

*Free with a registered Starbucks card.

This is where the confusion kicks in.  What’s a registered Starbucks card?  How do I get one?  Does that cost money?  Usually by this point in the conversation with our patrons, my ability to put together a coherent phrase goes out the window – along with any hope the customer has of figuring out how to get internet access.  However, now I have the chance to answer all those questions clearly, and for everyone to see.  Huzzah!

What’s a registered Starbucks card?Starbucks card You know those little gift cards you see in front of the register when you’re paying for your caramel macchiato?  It’s those guys.  After a couple easy steps, anyway.  A registered Starbucks card is a gift card that you have tied to an online account at Starbucks.com.

How do I get one? Pick whichever card you like most and hand it to your friendly barista.  You can buy a Starbucks card for as little as $5.00.  Afterward, use the unique information on the back of the card to register it online.  Once you have registered your Starbucks card, you can access the internet for two hours everyday.

Uhm, Brittany, you just told me I have to spend money on a gift card in order to use the interwebs.  What happened to it being free, you sleazy scam artist? This is where our customers get cranky and confused, too.  The $5.00 on the gift card you purchased does not fuel your time online. That $5.00 can go back toward your caramel macchiato.  Or a CD.  Or a bagel with cream cheese.  Or a French press made out of recycled material.

If you think this is just a rouse to get you to give Starbucks your money, I must ask you: is this going to be your one Starbucks visit ever?  I can almost guarantee that you’ll be in at a Starbucks again at some point in the not too ridiculously distant future, and that you will eventually spend $5.00 there.  Now you can do so and take advantage of our erratically functional wireless internet!  However, if you’re determined to never again set foot in the third place environment, you are of course welcome to purchase an AT&T Wi-Fi day pass.

And so our ambitious blogger attempted to explain the Wi-Fi access at Starbucks.  I hope it was useful.  Questions?  Comment!

Today’s Tunes
“Swallowed In the Sea,” Coldplay
“The Best Is Yet To Come,” Frank Sinatra
“This Ole House,” The Brian Setzer Orchestra
“Selfish Ways,” Timmy Curran

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Confession

December 7, 2009 at 2:53 AM (Musings) (, )

I have a confession to make about working at Starbucks: when customers stand very close to the bar and look at me condescendingly whilst jabbering on their phones as I make drinks, I like to call the drinks out extra loud, just to be a pain (watching them jerk unexpectedly is my favourite).

Starbucks 755 Boylston BostonWorking at Starbucks isn’t the worst way to pay rent.  Most of my coworkers are pretty fun, and we’re blessed with a slew of awesome regulars Apple Store Boston Boylston(most of whom are from the Apple Store).  It can be stressful, though, and every now and then we get the customers who couldn’t even fathom the possibility that yes, the baristas making their double-tall half-caf 172-degree light-whip two-and-a-half-splenda skinny vanilla lattes are, in fact, human beings who merit just as much basic respect as their coworkers on the other end of their iPhones.  We have our own lives and aspirations, and we don’t particularly appreciate it when people can’t be bothered to put their friends on hold in order to fully explain what they would like to drink.

Or when they roll their eyes at us when they order a tall grande and we explain that tall and grande are two different sizes.

Or when they try to step behind the bar to get their drink because they’re in too much of a hurry for us to hand it to them.

Or answer with their drink order when we ask how they’re doing.

Or when they take money out of our tip jar when they don’t have exact change.

Like I said, most of our customers are alright.  Every now and then, though, I struggle not to say something incredibly sharp to the self-important jerks who decide to grace us with their obnoxious patronage.  So, I just make sure that when I call out drinks, the recipients will definitely be able to hear them over other people’s phone conversations.

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