Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks are going after completely different kinds of coffee drinkers, though DD does occasionally make plays for the latte-sipping market. Dunkin’ Donuts promotes its coffee as a quick caffeine delivery mechanism for busy people on the go — “America runs on Dunkin” — whether they are the blue-collar or wing-tip set. Starbucks is marketing a certain vibe as much as their coffee. Drinking Starbucks is a yuppie status symbol; hanging out in Starbucks listening to Lyle Lovett CDs or typing on a laptop is a kind of experience.
I actually like both Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks. If I am going to get a regular cup of coffee, Dunkin’ Donuts wins hands down. Starbucks regular coffee isn’t fit to be used as motor oil, probably to disincentivize purchases under $5. But if I want my coffee to have caramel, chocolate chips, or pieces of peppermint floating in it, I’ll go to Starbucks. It’s like Dairy Queen with couches.
It’s too bad you don’t see Tim Horton’s in these parts: their donuts are as good as Dunkin’ Donuts were before they were trucked in from other locations — Time to make the donuts, my arse — their coffee is credible, and their lunch fare is far tastier than anything sandwich-like you are going to find at either DD or Starbucks.