McDonald’s Specialty Coffee is Now Cheaper — But Can It Replace Starbucks?

Fancy coffee

I will be the first to admit that I have a coffee problem. It hurts my budget, and I can’t seem to find the willpower to give it up like one of my coworkers has.

The worst thing about it is I like expensive coffee — if you want to talk about froufrou coffee drinks, I’m probably the perfect person to talk to.

Contrary to popular belief, the best thing in life (yes, that is what coffee is to me) actually is not free, and I can spend nearly $6 on a single purchase.


A New Solution to Expensive Coffee Habits

McDonald’s recently started an initiative to provide affordable specialty coffee drinks in order to keep up with its competition. *cough cough STARBUCKS cough cough*

The fast food behemoth recently lowered the price of its small specialty drinks to $2, meaning hot mochas, lattes or hot chocolates would only cost you two Washingtons (plus tax).

But would it really be worth it for me to make the switch?

I decided to find out.

My Coffee Order at McDonald’s Versus My Order at Starbucks

I headed to McDonald’s and took a look at its coffee menu. It certainly was underwhelming, but who am I to judge?

I had a few options: a regular hot coffee, iced coffee, latte, smoothie or, if I was really hating myself at the moment, a Frappe.

My go-to drink at Starbucks is a venti skinny cinnamon dolce latte with coconut milk. This delicious concoction costs me $5.94 (with tax).

If I bought one of these every workday for a month (20 days total), that would add up to $118.80.

The closest I could get to ordering my go-to Starbucks drink at McDonald’s was a sugar-free French vanilla latte with fat-free milk.

The price? $3.63 for a large (after tax).

If I went for this option one time every day of the workweek for a month, my total monthly bill would be $72.60.

My total savings could potentially be $46.20 — but what would I be giving up?

Is It Worth Making the Switch?

The sugar-free French vanilla latte was the closest thing I could get to my usual Starbucks order. The only sugar-free syrup McDonald’s offers is vanilla — as opposed to Starbucks, which offers vanilla, cinnamon dolce and mocha — so there wasn’t much room for me to get my bougie on.

McDonald’s also offers only two types of milk: fat-free and whole. It does not offer any milk substitutes, such as soy milk or coconut milk. I’m not lactose intolerant, but I do have a finicky stomach — I decided to take one for the team, though, because I love you guys.

I’m not sure what lactose-intolerant people would do when it came to wanting to order a latte or Frappe, though — McDonald’s milk offerings would limit them to just regular black hot coffees. Ew.

The coffee was delicious, I’ll give it that. It most certainly exceeded my expectations — not bitter, served hot and not too sweet.

So, is it worth the potential money you could save? Perhaps switching to McDonald’s would be a smart financial move if you can’t kick your coffee addiction — however, make sure your stomach can handle regular or nonfat milk, and that your tastebuds won’t get sick of vanilla or mocha flavors.

Who knows — maybe in the future Mickey D’s will offer coconut milk and a few more sugar-free syrups.

Until then, us froufrou coffee lovers might have to find another way to ease up on our expensive habit!

Your Turn: Will you be making the switch from Starbucks to McDonald’s coffee? Let us know in the comments!

Kelly Smith is a junior writer and engagement specialist and a senior at The University of Tampa. Coffee is life.