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Free Coffee and Prizes to Ditch Dunkin’

September 17, 2014

People are addicted to their Dunkin’ Donuts. I saw pictures of displaced northeasterners, now living in California, sleeping out on the sidewalk in order to be among the first to have a Los Angeles Dunkin’ experience.

That’s what addiction will do to you. It’s not pretty.

DD has done a great job marketing itself as the anti-Starbucks. It’s just coffee. Coffee for people who work. Honest coffee. And the truth is that when this coffee is sweetened with plenty of sugar and enriched with a hefty pour of milkfat, it’s easy to get down and does the job.

The other truth is that it’s actually more expensive than Starbucks’ brewed coffee and the Dunkin’ Donuts coffee itself (minus the cream and sugar) really isn’t very good. Maybe you’ve gotten used to it. This is why it’s sometimes good to try and break the cycle of addition.

What if I told you there was a third option, that’s most likely just as convenient? You don’t have to go to Starbucks and become a person you hate. And you don’t have to buy into the marketing deceptions of Dunkin’ Donuts either. To make it easier for you, not only am I going to point you in the direction of a free (short term) replacement, but I’m also going to shower you with gifts and prizes.

Hopefully, you’re sitting down, because the following endorsement may be a bit shocking.

From now until September 29, participating McDonald’s in the Capital Region are giving away cups of free small coffee during breakfast hours. No purchase is required. You can simply zip into the drive thru, ask for your free small coffee, pick it up, and be on your way.

Breaking an addiction couldn’t be easier.

And when the promotional period ends, the price of coffee at McDonald’s goes all the way up to a dollar. That’s one dollar. For any size. It’s a ridiculously good value.

Is it as rich and round as my AA Kenya cold brew? No, it’s not. Does it have the nuances of flavor and notes of dried cherry from lightly roasted micro lots, ground to order and brewed with care in the Chemex? Nope.

But the McDonald’s coffee does have a surprising amount of complexity, with herbal, spice, and cocoa aromas integrated with some lemony acidity. The beans aren’t burnt like the Starbucks dark roasts. The coffee hasn’t scorched like one might find at gas stations or convenience stores. More importantly, it can be enjoyed on its own without sugar and cream to mask its shortcomings.

Granted, you have to take the lid off the cup in order to actually taste the coffee. Otherwise, it just tastes like lid. But that holds true everywhere.

Switching is hard. I get that. So I’ll make it easier to take the first step. McDonald’s has given me lots of stuff to give away. Here’s how we’re going to do it.

I trust you. Here are your options:

  1. Tell me in the comments below that you commit to trying the McDonald’s coffee at least once in lieu of your morning cup at Dunkin’ Donuts.
  2. If you aren’t a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee drinker, tell me in the comments below that you commit to getting one Dunkin’ Donuts coffee drinker to try McDonald’s coffee instead. That can be as simple an act as pulling through the drive thru and bringing a co-worker one of these free cups of coffee.

I’ll send the first ten people who make the pledge three vouchers for a free coffee and one voucher for a free extra value meal.

Everyone who submits any comment below (even if you aren’t taking the pledge) will be entered to win a McDonald’s Prize Pack that’s valued at $50. Contests ends at 11:59 pm on September 29. The drawing will be done at random with the help of random.org and that site’s lovely algorithms. Winners will be contacted by email, and prizes will be put in the mail.

Contents of the prize pack include:
· Non-Woven McCafé Tote Bag
· McCafé Travel Mug
· 10 oz. McCafé Glass Mug
· Silken Eye Mask
· REMIX 300 High Definition Headphones w/mic
· Touch Screen Desk Clock
· Shower Radio
· $15 McDonald’s Arch Card

For the sake of full disclosure, I’m getting one of those prize packs too. And maybe a few of those vouchers. But the reason I’m supporting this initiative is that I truly see it as a way to weaken the iron grip that Dunkin’ Donuts has on the region.

Ultimately, I’d like people to discover how great coffee can be. But sometimes you have to meet people where they are. First, let’s get people to care about the taste of cheap and convenient coffee. Then once taste is on the table, we can lead them to places like Stacks or the Lucas Confectionery and demonstrate how good it can get.

38 Comments leave one →
  1. September 17, 2014 9:04 am

    When I went to fulfill my artist residency this June in Europe, the artist group I was staying with had one demand of me: bring as much Dunkin Donuts Vanilla Roast as you can smuggle into the country. I only had one travel bag with me so it only ended up being about two pounds, but when I handed it to them they had this hungry, anxious look on their faces and immediately brewed some up. To show their appreciation, they poured me a small cup of it like they were bestowing liquid gold upon me. Later, we went and had a coffee in Italy, which was 10 minutes away. They told their Italian friends what I had brought them; they were impressed and mournfully told me that the nearest DD’s was in Germany. I still do not get it.

  2. Lakesider permalink
    September 17, 2014 9:14 am

    My husband is one of the addicted, to both DD and Stewart’s. At $1 each, this could save us some $. Will get him to stop and try this week!

    [Note from the FLB: Qualifying Comment #1]

    • Lakesider permalink
      September 25, 2014 10:34 pm

      Follow-up: It’s just over a week and hubby is converted. Refuses to accept a free cup from McD, so is paying $1 for a medium each day and enjoying it. He says he won’t be going back to DD, but will continue to patronize Stewart’s.

  3. September 17, 2014 9:55 am

    You bet. I’ll take the pledge to have free coffee at McDonald’s in lieu of my regular visits to DD.

    [Note from the FLB: Qualifying Comment #2]

  4. -R. permalink
    September 17, 2014 9:55 am

    Heh. No need to enter me into the contest as I have long railed against both Starbucks and Dunkin Doo-Doo, and will simply be pleased to double my efforts during McD’s free coffee giveaway (you are correct – in a pinch, I’ll seek out their coffee over the others). I don’t frequent McD’s, so the swag would go unused anyway (nor do I own any attire, devices or the such that promote any business large or small for free – my T-shirts are blank and I sport no bumper stickers).

  5. Karen DeChalus permalink
    September 17, 2014 10:00 am

    Stopped buying coffee from Dunkin Donuts a long while ago. It’s overpriced & tastes awful, like you said. Was headed to Cumberland Farms for their 99 cent coffee this morn. CF coffee is delicious & you can get any size. I like their iced coffee best. Anyway, I’ll accept your challenge & will head to McDonalds for a free cup. Getting one for hubby too!

    [Note from the FLB: Qualifying Comment #3]

  6. Jeff permalink
    September 17, 2014 10:05 am

    Dunking donuts coffee is horrible. Starbucks is ok. McDonalds has the best ice coffee out of them all especially for the price. Of course convincing the people who work there that you really don’t want cream and sugar can be very difficult. These days I always check to make sure sweetener hasn’t found its way in before I leave the parking lot.

  7. Ellen M. permalink
    September 17, 2014 10:12 am

    You’ve got me curious. I tried McD’s coffee recently in an airport and it was basically brown water. I have a McD very close to my apartment, a few doors down from a Starbucks (I don’t go to either), so for free, it might be interesting to experiment.

    [Note from the FLB: Qualifying Comment #4]

  8. Jason permalink
    September 17, 2014 10:22 am

    Even as I sit at my desk with a cup of Dunkin Donuts Pumpkin coffee, I do have to acknowledge McDonald’s coffee has gotten far better in recent years. I used to be afraid of it, and until I moved a few months ago, McD’s was the closest and most convenient place to get coffee for me. I already planned on getting at least a few free coffee’s from McDonald’s in the next week and a half or so, but even though now DD is right on my way to work, I will certainly be replacing several DD coffees with free coffee from McDonald’s!

    [Note from the FLB: Qualifying Comment #5]

  9. September 17, 2014 10:25 am

    Even as I sit at my desk drinking a cup of DD Pumpkin Coffee, I must acknowledge that McD coffee has gotten far better in recent years. I used to be afraid of it, but now I have to say I actually like it! So for that reason, I will be more than happy to swap at least one (but probably several!) cups of DD coffee for McD coffee between now and the 29th.

  10. Bob W. permalink
    September 17, 2014 10:29 am

    Never been a fan of DD’s coffee, even with familial connections to the organization in the past. And Jeff is on the money — McDonald’s iced coffee beats them all, especially on price. The lure of free may just be enough to get the DD and Starbucks drinkers in my life to try something a little different — variety being the spice of life, and all.

    • September 17, 2014 1:28 pm

      I’m a little unclear. For the sake of the free coupons, does your comment construe a commitment to get the DD drinkers in your life a cup of the McCafe coffee in the days to come?

      • Bob W. permalink
        September 17, 2014 4:04 pm

        Unclear writing on my part — apologies. Yes, that was my intent, but if I’ve missed the boat no worries. I will continue to prosthelytize the non-Dunkin path, regardless.

        [Note from the FLB: Qualifying Comment #10]

  11. September 17, 2014 10:33 am

    Sure, but I’ll be switching out my DD unsweetened iced tea for McD’s coffee.

    [Note from the FLB: Qualifying Comment #6]

  12. September 17, 2014 10:36 am

    I no longer drink DD coffee EVER. McDonalds in a pinch is fine and isn’t it Newmans coffee? It really is not bad but I also don’t load my coffee up with junk. I’d rather enjoy those calories somewhere else!

  13. Debra permalink
    September 17, 2014 10:37 am

    I pledge to get my boss who drinks DD every day to go to McD’s for the free coffee. Doesn’t everyone love free? I do! So I’ll go too. Thanks Daniel.

    [Note from the FLB: Qualifying Comment #7]

  14. September 17, 2014 10:39 am

    Stopped drinking DD coffee long ago. Tastes watered down. Look for local roasted beans. Otherwise Newmans at McDonalds isn’t bad.

  15. MikeH permalink
    September 17, 2014 10:40 am

    I do not drink dunkin coffee. I do frequently get a cup of coffee at a McD’s in Buffalo when I am there on business and I enjoy it. Much better than the coffee I can get at the hotel. I will do one better than bringing a coworker to the drive through. I will bring coffee for the group at my next meeting out there. (sorry if this is a duplicate post…I don’t think my first one worked)

    [Note from the FLB: Qualifying Comment #8]

  16. September 17, 2014 10:53 am

    I used to be a big DD drinker. In school I would have multiple extra large cups of the stuff either hot or cold on a daily basis. On the free iced coffee days my friend and I would go to every DD in the area to get that free drink. Rarely bought their ground coffee to make at home, because it just tasted weird.

    If I buy coffee, it is either Starbucks or McDonalds. Starbucks at work, McD everywhere else. And you really can’t beat the price. Although I don’t think the dollar all sizes price is at every location – there were a few times in the CR where it was more.

  17. September 17, 2014 11:04 am

    Oy! I spend over $100 per month on DD coffee. I’ll switch one day this week, cause heck, it’s free.

    [Note from the FLB: Qualifying Comment #9]

  18. Reba permalink
    September 17, 2014 11:10 am

    I wish Tim Horton’s made it it down here, I really don’t like DD. But $1 coffee and McDo will do!

  19. September 17, 2014 12:37 pm

    Am I allowed to enter since I’m not in NY? Well, I will share this on my FB page anyway to get some of my local friends to give it a go. Ever since the Albany-area McD’s switched to Newman’s Own I didn’t mind stopping there for coffee on occasion. I assume they don’t serve it anymore though since they changed up their coffee nationwide.

  20. Grrrr permalink
    September 17, 2014 12:46 pm

    I’m not one of the first 10 to comment yet I want to contribute. McDonald’s coffee, now that they’ve switched to Newman’s Own Organic, is delicious..for someone looking for a solid cup of “regular” coffee. I’ll drink that over DD any day, especially since one can still find McD’s offering coffee for only $1, any size. My tried and true “regular” coffee comes from Stewarts. If you’re lucky enough to get a cup out of their “Richer Roast” air pot (it runs out quick and is not so quick to be refilled,” It’s the most solid cup of average coffee around. I like average coffee that is rich and smooth and doesn’t taste as though the beans were burnt (SB) or overly diluted (DD.) McD’s and Stewarts fit the bill without breaking the bank.

  21. Grrrr permalink
    September 17, 2014 12:48 pm

    Oh, and Tim Horton’s probably has the worse coffee I’ve had from a chain. Think really bad diner coffee. It’s watery and bitter.

  22. September 17, 2014 1:01 pm

    Thing is, Daniel, I’ve never understood people’s love for Dunkin Donuts coffee. Granted, I grew up in California, and I prefer Peet’s or Blue Bottle when I’m in SF, but I still think Dunkin’s product is a bit on par with Chock Full o’ Nuts. (In CA, it would be a can of Folgers or Maxwell House. ;) ) McDonald’s actually has surprisingly good coffee… again, not quite the same as Blue Bottle or Intelligentsia, but what is? I don’t do it often, but I’m seldom unhappy when I do.

  23. September 17, 2014 1:07 pm

    By the way, Daniel, my favorite coffee is available through mail order. I live on the stuff. :) http://www.graffeo.com/#

  24. it's stacks not "stack's" permalink
    September 17, 2014 1:44 pm

    it’s stacks not “stack’s”

    • September 17, 2014 3:11 pm

      Thank you. My bad. I’ve just corrected it in the post above.

  25. September 17, 2014 2:19 pm

    I will certainly go grab a free cup of McDonald’s coffee, instead of paying for Dunkin. Who doesn’t like a great deal? Dunkin is conveniently placed right down the street from me but their coffee is mediocre at best, and not cheap. I will also tell my dunkin coffee drinking friends about this deal, why not?

  26. Gabby permalink
    September 17, 2014 2:23 pm

    Ok, I’ll bite–I’ll try McDonalds coffee, since I’ve come to trust your opinion (;)), and I generally like Newman’s products. If I actually win the big prize, I’ll probably pass out, as I’ve never won anything in my life in a contest!

  27. Sandra permalink
    September 17, 2014 2:40 pm

    I completely agree with you, and am already a McCafe devotee. Can’t beat the taste or the price!

  28. September 17, 2014 3:59 pm

    We don’t have a dunkin doughnuts in our area and I have been drinking mcd’s coffee for quite a while especially since a mgriddle and coffee is 2 bucks. That is a great deal and the coffee is always fresh and I have never had it too strong or too weak,

    • September 17, 2014 4:04 pm

      Our secretary mrs. laurie is fond of trying different coffee but her favorite is gevailia. I would buy her a cup and see if I can get a yes or no on the flavor from her.

  29. Patti Decowski permalink
    September 17, 2014 9:50 pm

    I am personally addicted to my Stewart’s hot brewed tea every morning but @ $1.75 a day free is better. I only drink DD when given a gift card, same with Starbuck’s (coffee gift cards are often given as “thank the teacher” gifts). I wont look a gift card in the mouth but they do get re-gifted to college student nieces’. That being said… I will drive thru McD tomorrow!!

  30. Mary H permalink
    September 18, 2014 7:48 am

    I like McDonald’s coffee. It’s inexpensive and pretty decent. I’ve found DD to be kind of bitter in recent years and always seems to have a slight burnt taste to it. Plus, there’s a McDonald’s near my doctor’s office where I can snag a cheap, but decent cup of coffee on the way out after fasting for a cholesterol test (genetic, not due to McD’s…I only order the coffee…and an occasional shamrock shake).

  31. Andres permalink
    September 19, 2014 2:17 pm

    I rarely drink coffee nowadays but if I do. . .I’ll be drinking Mickey D’s brew. . .

  32. Pam C. permalink
    September 20, 2014 2:49 am

    I will pledge to drinking a McDonald’s coffee instead of a DD, in fact I am drinking a McD’s iced coffee right now! I wish you would explain, though, how DD’s coffee is more expensive than Starbucks!

  33. November 3, 2014 5:11 pm

    Stopped by the new Super Dunkin in Malta where they do the baking for all local DD shops. I wondered if there might be a time when one could get a fresh out of the fryer sinker. Nope. The fresh donuts never come up front; they get deliveries like everybody else just with a shorter travel distance.

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