Poll: McCafe or Starbucks?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
It seems that McDonald's and Starbucks have entered a breakfast war. Starbucks previously launched a line of breakfast items and is currently running a "meal deal" with a 'tall' (small) latte and an oatmeal or breakfast sandwich for one stop breakfast shopping with your favorite latte.

Last week, McDonald's expanded their premium coffee selection and officially introduced their new McCafe line of flavored lattes, mochas and cappuccinos across the country. To add to the atmosphere, special coffee bar service areas have also been added in many of the franchise restaurants. Patrons can try a latte with their favorite breakfast combo.

In these tough economic times, will a quality and affordable alternative fast food specialty coffee drink beat out the favored gourmet coffee house brand?

I am not a picky eater nor a coffee aficionado, and I typically only treat myself to a specialty coffee every once in a while. However, I do hit the drive thru for coffee several times a week for a basic cup of coffee. I enjoy the coffee at Starbucks and McDonald's as well as Caribou and a local chain in my community. My choice is typically based on what direction I am heading and which place has the shortest line at the drive thru. I know that McDonald's costs slightly less than Starbucks and Caribou costs the most, but time is money and sitting in line for 15 minutes while the specialty place baristas do their thing is much less appealing than 5 minutes and being on my way. After all, if I were most concerned with the cost, I would allow extra time at home and make it there and take it with me.

When we look at cost and nutritional content, we find that both are based on the size and ingredients that are included. Obviously a mocha made with whole milk and whipped cream will have more calories than one made with skim milk and no whipped cream or syrup.

Here is some general nutritional information for basic drinks as well as the average cost (prices do vary by location).

Starbucks Nonfat Grande Latte - $3.25
Rich, full-bodied Starbucks® espresso in steamed milk lightly topped with foam.
Calories – 130
Carbohydrates – 19 grams
Sodium – 150 mg

McDonald's Nonfat Medium Latte - $2.89
Espresso with steamed skim or whole milk, plain or with vanilla, sugar free vanilla, caramel or hazelnut flavor shot.
Calories – 110
Carbohydrates – 15 grams
Sodium – 140 mg

Starbucks Nonfat Grande Cappuccino - $3.25
Rich, full-bodied Starbucks® espresso in a small amount of steamed milk, with a deep layer of foam.
Calories – 80
Carbohydrates – 12 grams
Sodium – 90 mg

McDonald's Nonfat Medium Cappuccino - $2.89
Espresso with skim or whole milk available with vanilla, sugar free vanilla, caramel or hazelnut flavor shot.
Calories – 80
Carbohydrates – 12 grams
Sodium – 110 mg

Starbucks Nonfat Grande Cafe Mocha - $3.55
Rich, full-bodied Starbucks espresso combined with bittersweet mocha syrup and steamed milk, topped with a cloud of whipped cream.
Calories – 290
Carbohydrates – 44 grams
Sodium – 135 mg

McDonald's Medium Mocha - $2.89
Chocolate syrup with espresso steamed skim or whole milk with whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate, plain or with vanilla, sugar free vanilla, caramel or hazelnut flavor shot.
Calories – 280
Carbohydrates – 10
Sodium – 160 mg

Which do you think is the better deal financially as well as nutritionally? Is the benefit worth it to you? Will you be giving one of the McCafe specialty drinks a try?

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SPUNOUTMOM 1/30/2018
McDonalds in Canada doesn't have a choice of milk. You get 2% and Starbucks you can get skim milk. So just for choice Starbucks. Report
ALUKOWSKY 9/8/2017
I make my own coffee at home every day as part of breakfast. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I have had either a Starbuck's or a McDonald's coffee. I like Wawa's coffee, but buy it very seldom -- only when I can't eat breakfast at home due to travel. Report
Easy for me - I don't drink coffee at all & have never set foot in a Starbucks. Report
BECCABOO127 5/18/2017
I make coffee at home. I do enjoy a good Starbucks once in a while, and McDonald's coffee is good too. I like plain coffee with a touch of milk, which is easy to do at home. Report
I like to make coffee at the office. I save money that way. Report
I thank goodness every day that i do not like coffee. $3 per coffee-that adds up pretty quickly.
Yeah I'm going to go with neither. Every once in a while I get a tall skinny Latte from Starbucks. But McDonalds coffee and Starbucks coffee makes me feel like my hair is going to stand up on my head it's so strong. I'd rather make it at home where I control coffee strength, brand, price, and ingredients. Besides Dunkin Donuts coffee is better! Report
Oh man, neither!! Make coffee at home and then you can control what's in it then you don't end up having your entire day's calories worth of coffee and you save money! Report
Starbucks coffee tastes terrible as almost anyone who drinks their coffee straight and unadorned will say. I'm not sure about McDonalds' coffee these days. I drink coffee only at home or on a trip if I get sleepy. I'll have to try McDonalds coffee next trip to see. Report
I like the burnt taste of a Starbucks, but in a medium roast and affordable. Brewable at home. So I go with Walgreen's Good & Delish Morning Rush ... cannot drink Starbucks espresso-based blended drinks anymore, so what's the use of Starbucks for anything other than food or candy? However, I cannot get drip McCafé coffee to taste good at home (really low-end methods—it isn't the "barista" making it), so I would on occasion have to get it in the McDonald's itself. NB, the strongest coffee I make would weigh in, if black, at maybe 7 calories a cup? Report
I won't have coffee at Starbucks as I always put milk in my coffee and they use GMO milk. Starbucks needs to stop using GMO milk before I will drink their coffee! Report
I haven't gone to McDonald's in years. They do not serve what I consider real food. I am boycotting Starbucks because they are members of the GMA which is helping to fund suing the state of Vermont for passing GMO labeling laws. People have a right to know what is in their food! Report
Neither. I'm pretty addicted to a couple of local non-chain
coffee places.
The calorie hit in the la-dee-da drinks at McD, SB or any other place is not worth it. For 280 calories, I'll take a chocolate bar, thank you very much! As far as coffee is concerned, I add a packet of sugar or Splenda to regular coffee and am good to go. McD's, Karuba at Kwik Trip, or whatever is served at just about any gas station is fast and fine with me. Report
Neither! I can't stand Starbuck's -- I agree with the comments that it tastes burnt, like coffee that got charred during the roasting process. At McDonald's, the coffee usually tastes like the pot hasn't been cleaned in awhile. For me, it's Gevalia Traditional Roast made in my own coffeepot. Report
I drink just black coffee but McD is a way better taste, as SB is always bitter and the cost for a large McD is $1.08 and for SB it is $2.71. McD for the win Report
I am not a speciality coffee drinker so would by plain at either place. But McD's coffee taste better than Starbucks. Starbucks taste funny to me. I think another person said "burnt" and to think about it that may be true. I am not a big fan of Starbucks at all. Just me. Report
If I want a plain cup of coffee, I head to McD's--that coffee is smooth! If I want a flavored something or a specialty tea then Starbucks, but I find their coffee tastes 'burnt' to me, if not hidden in flavors. Report
What's the difference between them? Very little. They are both mass-produced and often over-stuffed with calories.

My two cents: Save your money and make your coffee at home. JMHO. That's what I do. And I get far greater flexibility and control over what goes into my body. It takes just as long to brew a small pot as it does to go through the drive through. Plus, there isn't any "Starbucks experience" that can top sitting in a cozy chair cuddling the dogs while I cradle a steaming cup and look out the window at the rising sun. Report
Not sure if this is strictly in the US or if you just may have gotten it wrong, but here at my McDonalds (Canada) McCafe are only available with either Skim or 2%, not whole... This may scew the calorie content comparison. Report
Starbucks is an experience not just a cup of coffee. However, when I just want a simple cup of Joe, it's McDonald's hands down. Report
what is this last question paid for by McDonald's?
flavor wins out - STARBUCKs rocks... and definitely worth the extra dime or two Report
Starbucks, always Report
As some one who used to work at a Mcdonalds, I would not drink any McCafe, the machine was always dirty. Report
I prefer to make my own coffee at home. As far as specialty drinks, I never drink my calories! So I would never order one.

I occasionally get a large regular coffee at Starbucks with sugar free mint syrup. (Mint is the only sugar free flavor I haven't been able to find. If I find that flavor for purchase in sugar free, I will make it at home. I have actually purchased bottles of the mint sugar free syrup directly from Starbuck stores. Only some of them will sell it. Report
With respect to McDonald's and Starbucks I think Circle K and 7-11 have good options. They usually have flavored, regular, decaffeinated coffees in addition to tea and hot chocolate. I've seen, at Circle K, a small coffee shot you add to your coffee to super charge it. You can add additional flavors including sugar free, or the flavored creams. They also have cinnamon, chocolate and other spices you can add to your drink. You can bring in your own coffee cup and not only save money but be green by not adding to landfills. Report
I prefer the starbucks frapachino because I can get it made how I want and with low fat or nonnfat milk. Report
Because I drink decaf, I have to be choosy. Most local places serve an ooh-bitter decaf. Starbucks, however, serves a very tasty decaf. So, I go to Starbucks where they greet me by name and consistently give me exactly what I order. Every 15th cup is free and my birthday as well. I figure that since I don't buy alcohol or smoke cigarettes, I should at least get a good cup of joe, even if I spend a little bit extra for it. Oh and I am not rich. Report
Thanks for keeping Sparkspeople free by running "blog posts" for commercial competitors. Report
Personally I like Chi Tea at Starbucks. Can you tell me how many calories it has if itis made with skim milk. Report
Not a fan of either one. I prefer a small, locally owned chain & local roasters w/ better prices & friendly personable staff. Report
I just like McDonald's coffee, better than Starbucks, and here in Canada, you can't beat Tim Hortons'. Report
I love them both but tend to 'treat' myself to McDonalds more often because it's more convenient and cheaper. I only do Starbucks once or twice a month. I've started just making my own iced coffees at home by brewing a strong pot of coffee and storing it in the fridge, then adding my own flavored creamer when I serve it. It tastes pretty good- and it's so much cheaper. I'm saving at least $20 a week by doing this myself. Report
I go for the plainer stuff, maybe a skim milk latte on occasion, in either place. Chris Report
I prefer to make my own drinks at home, but if I go out it's definitely Starbucks. McD drinks are nasty and undrinkable IMO. Report
Starbucks offers the option of Soymilk, which eliminates the cholesterol and saturated fat and lowers the calories for any beverage in their lineup. It is also naturally sweet-tasting, so you can forgo any added sugars or sweeteners and you still have a non-bitter coffee drink that is slightly sweet with no sweeteners!

McDonald's only offers dairy options, so for me, I will spend an extra $0.60 to cut calories and sugars dramatically! Report
BIG post! Report
Definitely Starbucks! It's sounds close to baks! Bigger and tastier
http://lawyers-in-us.com Report
You are right Tanya. I never really stop to ponder that time is money and sometimes, I really hated the long queues at Starbucks. Maybe I will try McCafe line of coffees for a change.
http://www.bedbugsremovalguide.com Report
The sweet tea at McD's is made with 64 oz of sugar (less than a bag) to four gallons of tea, freshly brewed,, the tea urn holds about three and a half gallons.. ( friend works there) the McCafes are made with freshly ground beans, skim or whole milk on request, any ingredient can be removed upon customer request, or added,, there are charts explaining each drink for those not familiar and lists of ingredients for same.
I love the new Frappe's!! especially the caramel one!!! It tastes exactly like those caramel Nips candies!!
As far as Starbucks, they are geared for upper middle class customers, ones that can afford it at any price; I prepare my own, but do LOVE the McD's unsweetened tea and the caramel frappe!!
As far as business practices, every McD's within a 700 mile radius of me donates to numerous local and worldwide charities: one of our local franchises has a roof-sit for a million pennies to donate to a local Advocacy center for child abuse and neglect!! It provides counseling, a safe place to "testify" for sexually abused children so they do not have to face their predators in court, among other things others here give to the Women's shelter, crippled children, city beautification, provide stock options, health insurance, etc. they offer scholarships to college students too
I guess each business has their "babies", so to speak for giving,, Report
Big Business makes us bigger to make bigger profits. Again.

OK I just say NO, because I don't drink coffee. Report
We take great pride in my McDonalds to do it right. I love Coffee. But some times people are not nice in there descriptions of how they classify the people who service them. Starbucks can keep the snobs. I treat rude poeple everyday with a great big smile. I'm lovin it!! Terrymemphis. Report
I have tried the McDonald cold coffee.I like it.I have also like.Mcdonalds burger and ice tea.I think McDonald products are best.
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I'm not crazy about McDonalds or Starbucks, but on a really hot day when I am particularly worn out, a Mocha Moolatte from Dairy Queen sure hits the spot! Too bad they aren't health food. Report
Well being from Canada, I am a TIMMIES all the way, but the Mc Dee's coffee here in the Wal-Mart is a very close second. Got to love my Triple triples! Report
For me Mcdonalds is more economical. Plus its very easy to get it made to order I can get a med iced vanilla coffee for like$1.89 or something and can have them use SF vanilla and FF milk! WONDERFUL! Report
I have to say if there is something I am ADDICTED to, its iced coffee drinks. I recently started making them myself at home to save money. An extra benefit is I can use splenda, 1% milk, and add my own vanilla, and have a drink thats more like 50 cals than 300. Okay so it doesnt quite taste the same, but I messed around and found out how much of each ingredient I needed to make it at least close to tasting the same, I got pretty happy with it considering the price and the reduced calories. Report
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