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Taste Test: Coffee Review Grades McCafe vs. Starbucks


Berkeley, California May 29, 2009 – In a recent tasting of McCafe and Starbucks coffee drinks conducted by editors of The Coffee Review, Starbucks coffees earned higher marks than those from McDonald’s, though none of the drinks truly impressed the expert tasters.

The Coffee Review, led by editor Kenneth Davids, sampled four different hot, espresso-based beverages in two McDonald’s Northern California locations offering the new McCafé menu, and the analogous four beverages at two nearby Starbucks locations: a cappuccino, caffè latte, caffè mocha (espresso, frothed milk and chocolate syrup) and caramel latte.

The quality of the products varied by the type of drink. According to Mr. Davids, who has published three books on gourmet coffee, for the cappuccinos “We gave a slight edge to Starbucks, though some may prefer the more coffee-muted McDonald’s version with its larger proportion of milk to coffee.” He added that “the difference in caffè lattes was subtle, perhaps not worth fussing over for most palates, although we found the Starbucks version livelier and more nuanced.”

However, when it came to flavored coffees beverages, Mr. Davids found “the superiority of the Starbucks versions of caffè mocha and caramel latte was dramatic, and significant, given consumer preference for espresso beverages involving added syrups.” Mr. Davids noted that the Starbucks versions cost 44 to 76 cents more than those from McDonald’s, leading him to conclude “It appears that at this front of the coffee war you get what you pay for, particularly when it comes to drinks that include syrups and whipped cream.”

About The Coffee Review

Founded in 1997, the Coffee Review is an influential online coffee publication that pioneered 100-point reviews in the specialty coffee industry. Editor Kenneth Davids and other well-respected coffee experts conduct blind coffee tastings that provide an objective buying guide for coffee lovers. Thousands of coffee reviews appear on the company’s website at


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