In an article about coffee chains, a woman in a pink hoodie drinks from Starbucks cup and holds a fistful of cash in her other hand.

Coffee Chains That Are Cheaper Than Starbucks

While the popular beverage giant seems to have cornered the market on all things fruity and caffeinated, it's not the only place to get a cup' a Joe.
February 10, 2023
5 mins read

For years, Starbucks has been the world’s go-to coffee shop. With its many options — coffee, seasonal drinks and even some pastries — it seemed as if competing coffee places didn’t stand a chance. But over the past few years, cheaper coffee chains have popped up throughout America offering beverages that tasted just as good, if not better, than Starbucks. While Starbucks is mainly known for its coffee, that’s not what it’s fully branded on, unlike other coffee chains whose sole focus and specialty is coffee. Here is a list of some cheaper coffee options that do not sacrifice flavor.

1. Dutch Bros

While most of their locations are in the West with a few in the South, Dutch Bros is a delicious and affordable drive-thru coffee chain that is quickly on the rise. Their menu consists of seven different iced coffees, four frappuccinos, six energy drinks, five shakes, as well as a variety of tea, lemonade, soda and chai drinks; they even have a few drink options for kids. What makes Dutch Bros one of the best new coffee chains is that a large coffee — and many of their other drinks — is only about $4, while a venti-sized drink at Starbucks is $7. Given the immediate popularity of this coffee chain, it may expand its locations to all fifty states in the next few years.

2. Dunkin’ Donuts

Dunkin’ Donuts is one of the more popular coffee chains in America, and some might even argue that its beverages rival those of Starbucks. What makes Dunkin’ Donuts different from Starbucks, or any other coffee chain for that matter, is its donuts. Starbucks’ pastries are way too overpriced, while Dunkin’ Donuts’ pastries range from $2-$3. Also, unlike Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts’ drink prices are affordable, only going as high as $4. Dunkin’s affordability is a big reason why people choose it over Starbucks, especially broke high school and college students.

3. Peet’s Coffee

Peet’s Coffee is mostly known for its locations in airports, but they’re doing something right because while these airports have Starbucks locations as well, but Peet’s Coffee shops often have longer lines. Depending on the drink, Peet’s Coffee can charge up to $6, but that’s only for a large drink. Small and medium-sized drinks are within the $4-$5 range, and at Starbucks, even a grande is almost $7 with tax. Though Peet’s Coffee and Starbucks share similar items, one of the coffee chains recognizes both affordability and quality, while the other just recognizes quality.

4. 7 Brew

One of the biggest coffee chains on the rise is 7 Brew. While this coffee drive-thru chain only has locations in the South at the moment, they’ll likely expand into all parts of America in the next few years. Similar to Dutch Bros, 7 Brew has a diverse menu. Though they don’t have any pastries, they offer energy drinks, tea, soda, smoothies, shakes, kids drinks and of course, coffee. Most of their drinks are within the $5 range, but they do have a few that are $6-$7 depending on the drink, though most of their menu is still pretty affordable. 

All of these coffee chains, including Starbucks, sell delicious, high-quality coffee, but because coffee is a necessity to most people, coffee chains like Starbucks should strive to make their coffee both affordable and tasty. 

Even a few cents can make an impact, and Starbucks seems to have been taking advantage of that by slowly raising their prices every few years. A grande used to cost $5.13 with tax, now it costs $5.90. In a few years, Starbucks’s coffee prices might be in the $9-$10 range, and because the coffee chain is so popular, the company is encouraged to raise their prices rather than giving back to their customers and lowering them.

These chains combine the two things that beverage fanatics love: coffee and affordable prices. Starbucks has been in the game for years, but rising coffee chains may give the caffeine titan a run for its money.

Andrea Cepeda, University of North Texas

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Andrea Cepeda

University of North Texas
Creative Writing

First year college student majoring in creative writing. I love reading and writing, mainly fiction, but I am open to all genres.

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