Starbucks Coffee Vs. Other Coffee

Trying to find out how Starbucks coffee stacks up to other specialty coffee brands? Read on to know the differences between Starbucks coffee vs. other coffee.

Starbucks coffee vs. other coffee
Starbucks coffee vs. other coffee

While Starbucks is the first thing that many people think about if you ask them to name a major coffee chain, they are certainly not the only juggernaut in the business. Even within the specialty coffee category, the success Starbucks found has led to a wave of competitors, all of them offering their unique spin on high-quality coffee and espresso.

But how does Starbucks stack up to other “third wave” coffee brands out there? There are few factors involved when discussing Starbucks Coffee vs. other coffee brands, so read on to get the breakdown.

Starbucks: A Brief History

Before digging into the question of Starbucks coffee vs. other coffee options, it’s important to have a little context. Starbucks launched in 1971 in the Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington–and that particular origin has played a significant role in everything the brand has done since. The Pacific Northwest, land of wet weather and cold winters is definitely coffee country, and Starbucks set itself apart from its competition by introducing European-style cafe culture.

It wasn’t just a place where you could buy a cup of coffee. It was somewhere to grab a latte and sit around for a while. That origin point still informs much of how Starbucks operates to this day.

Starbucks Coffee Vs. Other Coffee: What’s Common

espresso coffee with espresso beans
Starbucks and other coffee brands provide high-quality espresso

Starbucks wasn’t the first company to bring high-quality, prepared espresso and coffee beverages to the masses. Even before they became a major American success story, there were competing brands across the nation. Brewed coffee and crafted drinks, pastries, and snacks–there are certain experiences that every coffee shop or cafe has to embody to call itself by the name, and there are several drinks you can get at any coffee shop in the country, many of them by the same names.

What Sets Starbucks Apart From Other Coffee Brands?

Best starbucks drinks for non-coffee drinkers
History plays a part in what sets Starbucks apart from other brands

Starbucks is a well-established name in the coffee industry, and the company has definitely been a standard-bearer for a movement to bring cafe culture to the US. But with so many competing brands, it can be hard to dig into what truly sets Starbucks apart anymore.

The key difference could be the history: Starbucks has been around for a long time, and despite constant innovation, they have a specific wheelhouse. Newer comers, and other “third wave” coffee brands, have a slightly different angle to push. 

What’s Better About Starbucks Coffee?

As much as Starbucks innovates its offerings constantly, a certain element of tradition comes along with a company that has existed in space for fifty-plus years. What makes Starbucks special for the people who love it is that the drinks are classic but made-to-order.

Also, there’s a strong neighborhood feeling–and of course, the distinctive Starbucks flavor. While some coffee aficionados feel that Starbucks over-roasts even its light beans, there is no doubt that when you taste a Starbucks drink, you know it.

What’s Better About Other Coffee Brands?

Of course, this is a broad category; the specialty coffee space is big and getting bigger every day. But the fact that Starbucks has become such a mainstay has allowed companies like Stumptown Roasters, Philz Coffee, and dozens of others to push their differences in the direction of innovation rather than tradition.

So if you’re looking for something trendy, off-beat, or unique, you’re often more likely to find it at a Starbucks competitor than you will at Starbucks, which carefully vets and markets and tests each drink before release. Being smaller and newer, other coffee brands have more room to experiment.

Who Should Get Starbucks Coffee?

A woman drinking starbucks drinks inside the coffee shop.
Starbucks coffee is a better option for those who want classic coffee

If you’re looking for a consistent coffee experience while still being tailored to your preferences, and you want a strong, bold coffee flavor, Starbucks coffee is the better option for you. While the international brand offers a lot of variations and seasonal and limited-edition offerings, its real strength is in the classics: handcrafted, detail-oriented coffee drinks.

If you want a classic latte, you’re not going to get it any better. If you want a caramel macchiato, go to where they invented them.

Who Should Get Other Coffee?

If you’re on the go of trying new flavors, new recipes, and combinations, then other specialty coffee chains are the option for you. While there are some mainstays, outside of Starbucks coffee, you’re more likely to run into oddities and entirely new flavor combinations, which can be a lot of fun. So if you want to taste something new, other specialty coffee chains are where to look for it.


Philz Coffee Vs. Starbucks

McDonald’s Iced Coffee Vs. Starbucks

Luckin Coffee Vs. Starbucks


  • 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.