Starbucks vs. Dunkin Donuts
FINAL RESULTS  A poll was conducted on the @boonepubs Instagram and the results showed 73% favored Starbucks’s pumpkin spice latte. graphic/ Emmy Bailey

With over 424 million Starbucks pumpkin spice lattes sold since 2003, it is safe to consider the fall specialty one of the main attractions of the season. 

Other chain coffee companies attempt pumpkin spice but there is something about Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts.

Starbucks snagged the title of creator of the whole pumpkin spice latte fad when it debuted in the fall of 2003. The director of Espresso Americas, Peter Duke, developed 10 ideas for a new fall drink line. Duke surveyed consumers and the pumpkin spice latte came out in the middle of the group. However, Duke and his team saw something special in the pumpkin flavoring and grabbed at the opportunity.

Dunkin’ Donuts waited until the fall of 2007 to hop on the pumpkin spice latte train and even now their sales remain lower than Starbucks. After drinking both, it makes sense. 

To get the best results for comparison, the pumpkin spice lattes are both iced and a size small. 

This year Starbucks’s pumpkin spice latte debuted on Aug. 25, its earliest release date ever. The cost is unsurprisingly $4.96 and only 10 fluid ounces.

The Starbucks pumpkin spice latte comes with whipped cream and cinnamon on top. It tastes more like a regular latte with a tiny hint of pumpkin flavoring. The pumpkin flavoring tastes delightful.

The taste of the pumpkin flavoring is distinctly from a pure pumpkin puree and not artificial. The cinnamon on top and the spices in the drink noticeably give the drink a luxury upgrade. To top it off, their latte appears very appealing to the eye.

Next, Dunkin’ Donuts’ pumpkin spice latte. Dunkin released a fall menu on Aug. 19, which includes new items ranging from apple cider donuts to their original pumpkin spice latte. Dunkin’ Donut’s small is 12 ounces and about half the price of Starbucks.

The Dunkin’ Donuts pumpkin spice latte obtains a much stronger and bolder flavor than Starbucks.  The latte tastes less like pumpkin and more like spice.

The pumpkin spice latte inclines a very powerful flavor that became overwhelming at moments. The parts that taste like pumpkin provide a purely artificial taste. The Dunkin’ Donuts pumpkin spice latte indulges in a sweeter taste with a hint of a particularly interesting aftertaste.

Dunkin’ Donuts’ pumpkin spice latte displays no whipped cream or any added touches. Half the price of Starbucks, but not worthy of an Instagram post.

Dunkin’ sells two different versions of the pumpkin spice latte: a signature pumpkin spice latte which consists of a mix of pumpkin and vanilla flavoring with whip cream, a drizzle, and cinnamon sugar. The original pumpkin spice latte only includes a pumpkin swirl for flavoring. 

Both decline a strong coffee flavoring and taste more like creamer while Starbucks’s pumpkin spice latte tastes more like coffee. Even though the pumpkin spice lattes symbolize the exact same drink, the drinks taste so different.

The Starbucks’s pumpkin spice latte holds a more appealing presentation to the eye and tastes delectable. It really conveys a feeling of fall. However, Starbucks costs more and is smaller. But, Starbucks preserves quality instead of quantity and if one is willing to spend a little extra money for a pumpkin spice latte, it is worth it.


Best pumpkin spice latte: Starbucks



tall $4.65

grande $5.25

venti $5.75

Dunkin’ Donuts

small $2.48

medium $2.68

large $2.88



4.8 out of 5

Dunkin’ Donuts

2.5 out of 5

By Emmy Bailey

Emmy Bailey is the Editor-in-Cheif of Hilights. She has been in it for three years and has a passion for journalism. In her other time, she enjoys participating in theatre and is Troupe 1139 secretary.

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