McDonald’s has erected a billboard in sight of Starbucks headquarters declaring, “four bucks is dumb.” If Dunkin’ Donuts’ taste test commercials were the schoolyard equivalent of blowing spitballs at the coffee giant from afar, then the latest from McDonald’s is like pulling a wedgie. Starbucks employees driving northbound can see the billboard on their way into the city.

Another billboard slogan jabs, “large is the new grande.” The two phrases are displayed on 140 billboards in Western Washington, some of them near Starbucks cafes.

“The billboard placement was done because we picked high visibility locations,” said Alan Finkelstein, who owns four McDonald’s in King County. “We really wanted to point out that ordering an espresso at McDonald’s is quick and simple. Small, medium and large. It’s easy.”

While the coffee wars received much media and Wall Street trumpeting this year, Starbucks has been mostly silent, maintaining that its customer base is different.

Starbucks could fire back that not all of its coffee costs four bucks, or that extra cents help pay for health care for baristas. (A 12-ounce cup of brew starts at $1.40 at Starbucks, a penny more than the average McDonald’s brew price. A small McDonald’s latte costs $1.99 compared with $2.45 to $3.15 at Starbucks.) Instead, it is fighting back in a more subtle way. Executives have hinted that Starbucks is taking the high road. “We’re not going to get into that conversation. We’re not going to get sucked into the, ‘My coffee is better than your coffee,’ price point type of coffee conversation. We’re going to play at a much higher level.”

I never understood the pretentiousness of Starbucks. And yeah, 4 bucks is dumb.

  1. Deep-Thought says:

    My 2 Eurocents on Stsrbucks.

    I want to buy coffee, not talk about it!

    I mean really?

  2. Mister Mustard says:

    #60 – Bobo

    >>Well just the other day Mustard did want to
    >>share his astroglide with me, THAT was worse.

    Is that what entered your mind, Bobo? I think that says a lot more about you than it does me.

    #59 – Brian

    >> if you honestly think if someone ordered a
    >>’small’ coffee and the barista would get into
    >>a confrontation with the customer, then
    >>you’re even more idiotic than I first

    I don’t know if I’d go so far as to call it a “confrontation”, but it’s fairly routine to walk into a Starbucks and say “small coffee, please”, and have the “barista” affirm your order with “one Tall…leave room for cream?”.

    I think many of the “baristas” are as embarrassed enough by the gay names they give to standard coffee sizes that they’re not going to get aggressive about it. They make a token effort to enforce the nomenclature though.

  3. James Hill says:

    Orange juice is better for you.

    And outside of NY, you still can’t get a decent bagel and a good cup of coffee from the same place. Proof that we have not advanced as a society.

  4. Thomas says:


    Starbucks standard drip is frankly awful. They over-roast their beans (and yes, I know the difference between a dark roast and the charcoal served at Starbucks) and IMO that allows them to use cheaper beans which works fine for espresso but taste like crap for a regular cup of coffee. Try going to Europe and having an espresso or standard drip (if you can find it) and comparing it to Starbucks.

    Hear hear. If you roast your own beans you can actually taste the flavor of the bean.

    I believe that is a recipe for Arabic coffee.

    McDonald’s coffee is fine for a cheap, average cup of coffee. It is better than a gas station and worlds better than Starbucks crude oil. Starbucks is even worse than engineer’s coffee. Engineer’s coffee is coffee that sat on the burner all day Friday before someone simply turned off the burner. Then on Monday, someone turns on the burner and adds a bit of water. It is a fascinating experience and still preferable over Starbucks drip.

    For foo-foo drinks such as lattes, cappuccinos, macchiatos etc, Starbucks is fine. However, for drip coffee, they are awful.

  5. Piedmont says:

    What’s really dumb is that neither McDonalds nor Starbucks spent 10 bucks to register So I did and it’s now for sale online. Capitalism lives on!

  6. Mr. Fusion says:

    #7, Mr Big Guy,

    one day, about 6-months ago I did and was shocked how good it was, I’ve been getting their coffee ever since.

    OK, I’ll give it a shot. Your endorsement has been heard.

    #28, jojo,

    But why not BITCH about the 4 or 5 star restaurants that serve steak, shrimp and or rib eye for $50 and $90? You can get the same at Outback steakhouse for less and without having to feel like you have to dress up for a funeral.

    LOL, the best point so far.

    #31, Angel,

    What about Dunkin’s coffee?

    They are pretty good. The thing to keep in mind is there is coffee and then there is coffee. The same as there is wine and then there is wine. Or, there are women and then … .

    McDonalds (in my dated experience) makes their coffee for the masses. Those who will drink anything that is warm (or too hot), brown, and liquid. Starbucks and many other places take so much pride in their coffee that they are willing to sell the same beans so customers may make their favorite brew at home. They add some ambiance to the coffee to help the patrons enjoy it more.

    The best thing that McDonalds and Dunkin Donuts, along with most other chains, have over restaurants is the consistency. When you move that much coffee, you buy a lot of the same kind. When your livelihood depends upon repeat customers, you make sure that coffee is good coffee.

    #45, Hannah Montana,

    I just want to scream, ” Fnck no! SMALL!!!!! Not large, not medium, SMALL…i.e. not big, not huge , not tall…SMALL”

    Sounds like you’ve had enough coffee already.

  7. Mister Mustard says:

    #36 – turbo

    >>And I believe McDonalds has free Wi-Fi…

    No, they don’t. They have pay-for-it WiFi.

    Our local service providers provide high-quality Wi-Fi service through several convenient connection options: on-line credit card payment, subscriptions, prepaid cards, or (sometimes) promotional coupons.“.

    Just like Starbucks, the cheap bastards.

  8. Paddy-O says:

    # 55 Mister Mustard said, “The OS is a piece of shit. Even the most vocal of the Vista proponents only make the claim that Vista “works as well as” XP. Except you need to beef up your computer by about 400% to get the same performance.”

    Truth. There isn’t one benefit in using Vista over XP. Especially when you factor in the added H/W costs to run Vista.

  9. Mister Mustard says:

    z#69 – Paddy-O


    Hey! We agree on something! Rodney King was right…we CAN all just get along.

    And you KNOW that if Paddy-O and I agree that Vista is a worthless non-upgrade, it IS a worthless non-upgrade.

  10. turbo says:


    You dirty domain squatter! haha. That’s funny though.

  11. Paddy-O says:

    # 70 Mister Mustard said, “And you KNOW that if Paddy-O and I agree that Vista is a worthless non-upgrade, it IS a worthless non-upgrade.”

    Hey, it’s near Christmas, miracles do happen. 🙂

  12. Mister Mustard says:

    #72 – Paddy-O

    God bless us, every one.

  13. Paddy-O says:

    # 73 Mister Mustard said, “God bless us, every one.”

    To your family also. Have a great Christmas.

  14. Mister Mustard says:

    #74 – Paddy-O

    Shhhh. The Atheists will hear, and then we’ll be in hotter water than the “Merry Christmas” guys…

  15. QB says:

    #2 & #42

    I looked at the Tim Horton figures from 2006. They sold $82 worth of product to every man, woman and child in Canada. There is a corner in Mississauga that has a Timmies on all four corners.

    They’re putting something in the coffee.

  16. bobbo says:

    Merry X-Mas to all and to all a good night! Who could possibly be upset with good will toward man and presents?

    I can see Paddy-O is getting a sock full of astroglide from Mustard this year.

    Ho-Ho-Ho. Tis the season of false meaningless cheer.

  17. QB says:

    Ron James on Tim Hortons and Starbucks. And not to mention being a hockey parent…

  18. Uncle Patso says:

    #9 ECA said, in part:

    “For those that havnt done the numbers..
    1lb of coffee=
    100-150 Cups..EASY”

    Holy cow! That’s not coffee, that’s (barely) colored water! I’ve seen urine darker than that! A quick back-of-the-envelope calculation shows we get closer to 45 – 50 at our house.

    He then added:
    “Roasting and adding FLAVORS, is nothing..”

    I must disagree; roasting coffee requires that rarest and most precious commodity on the market today: the close attention of a practiced, educated expert. It is most definitely NOT nothing — stop the roast half a minute too soon and you get beans with less flavor than Folger’s Crystals; half a minute too late and you give your customers (and eventually your balance sheet) a thousand stomach aches.

    # 26 zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz said:

    “actually McDonald Coffee is good now. Up here in New England we always have good coffee from Green Mountain Coffee Co. Now McDonal is also using Green Mountain Coffee which is very good coffee!”

    Ooh, I used to get Green Mountain coffee at our local Wild Oats store. (BTW, Paul Newman’s Newman’s Best brand coffee is Green Mountain coffee.) Then Whole Foods (a good store in many ways, but not perfect) bought them out, closed that store and dropped Green Mountain. Their store brand tastes like laquer in comparison. Now I have to go miles in the opposite direction to a local dietary supplement, er, I mean “natural foods” store to get Jim’s Organic coffee, a New Orleans company with a decent product.

    Chiming in again at #58, ECA said, in part:

    “EVEN if you RAW BEAN coffee, was $50 per pound..
    they will make 100 cups of coffee from it..
    WHICH is about $0.50 per cup, and you are spending $3-5 for that cup..
    DIRECt from the importer coffee, is only $0.50-$5 per POUND..and thats the EXPENSIVE STUFF..
    COST of your coffee BEFORE ROASTING is < 5 cents.
    AFTEr roasting < 6 cents..

    MARKUP for McD or Starbucks, is ABOUT 100/1..
    you WOULDNT pay that for your CAR, HOUSE, TV”

    You know, there are more expenses in opening a coffee shop than just the price of coffee beans. Not only do you have the cost of the building, the furnishings, the equipment (not cheap) you have the wages of all the workers, also not cheap. Plus probably 25% to 40% of what you pay at Starbucks is for the time you (or at least some people) spend there, reading the Times or like #35, E.C.Dinovo (and Scotty from Star Trek), technical journals.

    In general, takeout coffee has gotten better lately. McDonald’s new darker roast is better than what they had before; Steak & Shake recently switched to Seattle’s Best and while it is NOT Seattle’s best — I’ve BEEN to Seattle, where even the 7-11s have espresso bars — it IS a lot better than their previous brew. None of it comes close to a Starbucks cappuccino, though. I’m afraid to try the espresso drinks at MickyD’s and all the gas stations that advertise them. I fear they’re really some freeze-dried chemically enhanced powder in a plastic-and-foil pouch that they mix with the stuff in the hot-water carafe that’s been sitting there boiling for an hour to really concentrate the minerals in the hard water ’til you can taste them, inadequately stirred, and handed to you with the cap only half on… (Me? Bitter?)

    By the way, FYI, though they don’t advertise it or even put it on their menus, Starbucks also has a SHORT size. Many’s the time I’ve driven up and ordered two short cappuccinos to go and saved money.

    Thank you for your patience. You have now reached the end of my ramble. Now go out and play.

  19. ECA says:

    point 1..
    45-50…GOOD for you…thats a GOOD cup..
    Avg size of coffee cup is 6oz…

    point 2..
    Umm, do you think the person is roasting 1lb at a time?? And it only takes a few 1 minute, and is PROBABLY many cases..
    So the person/machine is doing ALLOT more then a few pounds in 1 hour..

    Even at $1 per pound after processing and roasting, and so forth… or $7 per pound..
    You paid $5 for 1/40th of a pound of coffee..
    its still getting $200 for that cup of coffee, for what PROBABLY is worth $1 at most.

  20. Brittanie2116 says:

    Good Morning everyone. Hi, I am one of your friendly Starbucks baristas. Im sorry that I go to work everyday to make your day better. Im sorry that with every greeting I give out each day I honestly mean it. I sorry that I will go out of my way to make that simple drink you ordered the best thing you have tasted and if it isnt I will remake it till it is. Do you know what makes my work day worth while? Just one extremely satisfied customer. But I am human, I have wants and fears, good days and bad days. Im sorry if one day you walk into Starbucks and I only greet you half-heartedly instead with the comfort of an old friend. And Im sorry if I offend when I repeated your order as a Double Tall Sugar-Free Vanilla Soy No foam Latte, when you ordered a small vanilla latte with soy, no foam, and an extra shot. Oh yeah and sugar free. Ionly repeated it that way so the barista on the bar could mark the drink and make it.

  21. nono says:

    McDonald’s is dumb.

    Billboards saying “large is the new grande,” wtf?

    If you’re going to complain about something, shouldn’t you at least complain about the right thing? Something like “large is the new venti?”

    Btw love #83’s comment.

    As I love McD’s apple pies and french fries. Their ad campaigns though and general attitude, hey not so much.

    Another thing about the sizing at Starbucks… I find it MUCH more pretentious to go in a place and rename the sizes your own damn self than to just *order from the menu,* regardless of what you think of it.

    Kettle 1, Pot 0.

  22. I heard today starbucks is laying off 6,700 people and closing 300 stores..

  23. christine weaver says:

    I heard today starbucks is laying off 6,700 people and closing 300 stores…

  24. lsmall287 says:

    McDonalds latte vs. Starbuck lattee is really not even an argument. McDonalds latte tastes like crap. I believe it is totally worth the price difference to get Starbucks


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