Philz Coffee Vs. Starbucks: Which Is Better?

This article will examine what sets the two coffee chains apart to delve into the question of Philz Coffee vs. Starbucks.

Philz coffee vs. Starbucks
Philz Coffee vs. Starbucks

Starbucks may have an international reputation, but plenty of coffee brands are looking to challenge the coffee giant, and Philz Coffee is one very strong contender. Based in Northern California, but with expansions in Chicago and Washington, D.C., the company sets itself apart from the Seattle juggernaut in various ways.

It may not be as convenient in terms of locations, but Philz Coffee has the respect of the Silicon Valley crew. In addition to in-person service at their multiple locations, they offer subscriptions and curated experiences to bring their coffee home. So which is the better option: Philz Coffee or Starbucks?

About Philz Coffee

Philz Coffee didn’t start as a coffee shop but instead as a convenience store in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District. Owner Phil Jaber experimented with coffee in his spare time until he was prepared to serve it to eager customers. After years of development, the concept took off with Northern California denizens who were jaded about Starbucks and its espresso-oriented competition.

Now, Philz Coffee is taking off, providing an intriguing, unique alternative experience to Starbucks and other espresso chains both in at-home and in-shop coffee experiences. 

What Philz Coffee And Starbucks Have In Common

Selection of different coffee type
Both coffee shops offer a variety of drinks

Both Philz Coffee and Starbucks are–at the end of the day–coffee shops, with robust options available for people looking to bring the experience home. Both chains offer a variety of drinks and food to suit different tastes, and both have a strong involvement in the coffee industry itself: sourcing beans from around the world, crafting their own blends, and holding their partners to high standards. But the two companies differ in many ways as well.

Philz Coffee Vs. Starbucks: The Differences

One key difference between Philz Coffee and Starbucks is the types of coffee drinks you can get at each. Philz Coffee uses a base of hand-crafted pour-over coffee, with no espresso in sight. Meanwhile, although Starbucks does offer many brewing methods at most of its locations, espresso is the undeniable base of choice for most of its drinks.

Another key difference is the respective menus’ size. While Starbucks releases a bevy of seasonal and limited edition drinks, foods, and other items throughout the year, Philz Coffee tends to keep things leaner: they feature a few blends, each under light, medium, and dark roast categories along with less than a dozen total “creations” at any given time, and a limited menu of bites and snacks in classic, Middle East-meets-West flavor combinations.

What’s Better About Philz Coffee?

Philz Coffee has gotten the Silicon Valley seal of approval for its lack of frills and attention to detail. The menu is simple, and the focus is on making every drink to order, giving each customer the attention they deserve–and making sure each drink is flawless before the customer leaves the shop or settles in to enjoy it. The chain boasts a relaxed atmosphere and straightforward choices without much need to study the menu before making a choice.

What’s Better About Starbucks?

Starbucks store
Starbucks stores are readily accessible

Starbucks has the edge when it comes to two key variables: there are locations all over the US, generally more than one in any given city, and the menu is incredibly varied. While only a few places you can find Philz Coffee locations, a quick check on the Starbucks app is likely to turn up something, even if it’s just a franchise location with a relatively limited menu.

The nationwide distribution and logistics also mean that there’s little to no interruption possible in the staples of the chain. For accessibility and familiarity, Starbucks is the clear winner.

Who Should Go To Philz Coffee?

Philz Coffee is an excellent choice for someone who’s in the right place to get to a location, for one. But even if you’re not able to make it to one of the company’s locations, you can check them out through the curated or build-your-own subscription services. This allows you to get the taste of the artisan beans, ready for any brewing method you might prefer. 

Who Should Go To Starbucks?

For those looking for convenience alongside iconic, classic espresso drinks that have been the mainstay of America for a few decades, Starbucks is the clear choice. If you already have your “usual” order memorized, complete with whatever customizations and tweaks you prefer, and you’ve got the app on your phone, then it’s worth it to stick with Starbucks. 


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  • Savannah McClelland

    Savannah is a coffee lover who took her appreciation of the brew to the next level starting in college, becoming a barista before combining her love of writing with her affection for a good brew. She has written for several publications including and TopTenz, and also works as a ghostwriter. Find Savannah on LinkedIn.