I bought a cup of coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts yesterday. It was my first cup of joe from D&D in over a decade. I may be in the minority, but I think Dunkin’ Donuts coffee sucks. I was never a big fan despite their shameless attempts to draw me in by pumping the delicious smell of freshly brewed coffee and hot donuts onto countless sidewalks across America.
I should also tell you that I am a product of my industry — a man who loves branding, experiential marketing and immersive experiences. Coffee, for me, is one part religion, two parts taste and a whole lot of intangibles. I long for cold mornings in the Fall when I sneak downstairs in a tattered old t-shirt and wooly slippers, brew a dark roast blend that fills my house with the aroma of java beans, wrap my hands around an extra large mug and sit in front of a fire as I open the morning paper.
Dunkin’ Donuts always failed me on the intangibles. Cruddy, staid interiors, coupled with the god-awful taste of styrofoam and coffee and a lack of aspirational brand attributes kept me away from the franchise for quite a while. Conversely, Starbucks made me feel whole in the morning. Warm, dimly lit environments with friendly staff, cool music and easy to sink into sofas were the perfect respite from work and home (and the coffee’s not half bad either).
So why did I break with trend and by that cup of coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts? Well, for starters I began to feel foolish holding a cup of Starbucks in my hand. I wondered if purchasing ‘fourbucks’ every morning made me ignorant, out-of-touch, wastrel, and clueless as the Dow dipped by nearly 800 points last week. It seemed that all the aspirational qualities imbued in that grande latte were now gone. Lost to a gilded era when people were willing to spend $4 on a cup of coffee.
I brew my coffee now. In truth, I’ve been a home brewer for quite a while but that didn’t stop me from the occasional afternoon Starbucks run.
I wonder though how many others feel the way I felt this past weekend and will pull back from the Starbucks splurge? Not just because it’s expensive, but because the brand now represents a time of excessive spending and extravagances that are no longer appropriate.