Like every college student, I love a cup of coffee. Unlike every college student, however, caffeine has a next-to-no effect on me. Thanks to my ADHD, I can drink an entire BANG Energy Drink and feel no more alert than when I started (just significantly more full of sugar).
Luckily for you guys, this puts me in the unique position to review coffee completely based on the taste, price, and overall experience, without my own exhaustion getting in the way. So I present to you a complete ranking of every coffee chain in my area so you can best enjoy your caffeinated experience, based on each store's iced caramel latte.
And, if you're getting a different drink: first, the experience should hopefully still apply, and second, why are you getting anything else? Iced caramel lattes are immaculate.
1. Starbucks: 7/10
A classic. Starbucks is everyone's favorite overpriced coffee, and I have to get behind it. This is not only the most convenient for me to get, but it's also nostalgic, bringing me back to my pre-quarantine times when a bunch of friends and I would study over coffee in our local Starbucks for hours at a time. But honestly, if it weren't for the built-in hype, I'd say it was nothing special.
Taste (7/10): It's pretty good, but nothing extraordinary. I *am* excited for the seasonal cups though, and year-round the caramel-to-coffee ratio is pretty good.
Price (4/10): It's no secret Starbucks is overpriced. Still, I willingly pay the $4.55 or higher cost all the time, and at the end of the day, while $5 is excessive for coffee, it's not the biggest expense. I couldn't recommend paying it every day, however.
Experience (9/10): I don't know about you, but I've never had an unfriendly barista at Starbucks. They always dress cool and are incredibly friendly, even if they can't spell your name.
Overall (7/10): I'd have one maybe once a month. Nothing exceptional, but not a waste of time.
2. Tim Hortons: 4/10
Canada's favorite coffee, so it has to be good, right? Wrong. While I will stand by their iced Oreo frappe til I die for the perfect caffeinated sweet treat, their iced caramel latte was thoroughly subpar.
Taste (3/10): Probably my least favorite taste-wise of the bunch. The coffee was watery, and the caramel didn't taste as natural with it.
Price (6/10): I thought the price was completely reasonable. You can get a large for less than a tall iced caramel latte at Starbucks, but in comparison to the other stores it was nothing noteworthy.
Experience (10/10): I cannot guarantee this for anyone else, but my experience was incredibly lovely. Everyone was paying it forward for the cars behind them and the staff was very friendly.
Overall (4/10): Not great coffee but pretty great people.
3. Dunkin Donuts: 9/10
Dunkin is my personal favorite, and I can't believe it took me 18 years to discover it. It takes me over twice as long to get coffee from there as from every other coffee place on this list (distance-wise - in terms of lines they've always gotten me through quickly) but I still frequent it the most.
Taste (10/10): When I'm craving an iced caramel latte, this is exactly what I think of. The caramel-to-coffee mixture is perfect, and it's typically entirely gone by the time I get home.
Price (6/10): The pricing is pretty similar to Tim Hortons, maybe a tiny bit more expensive but completely reasonable as well.
Experience (9/10): I always get my coffee quickly and they're always really kind to me at the window. The entire experience rarely lasts more than two minutes, and then I'm off on my way.
Overall (9/10): By far my favorite coffee, and I've never had a bad experience.
4. McDonalds: 7/10
I wanted to throw a fast food option in as well and so I ventured off to my local McDonalds and was pleasantly surprised. I know the idea of McDonalds coffee can't be too appealing - it wasn't for me either - I would completely seek this out again. And if you have a sweet tooth, this is definitely the one for you.
Taste (7/10): THE sweetest coffee of the bunch. My boyfriend does not like coffee but said that if he drank one of these frequently, he'd probably develop a love for it. I have a crazy sweets-tolerance, but it was a bit sweeter than I'd usually prefer it, although it was definitely still good.
Price (9/10): McDonald's wins this category for sure. While it still costs more than $2.00, it's by far cheaper than any other option on this list and you really get the bang for your buck.
Experience (6/10): Honestly I usually have good experiences at McDonals, although it can be very situational. They're not exceptionally friendly or welcoming, but they've always been kind to me. Bonus! They don't judge you for ordering coffee off their breakfast menu at 6:00 pm (or if they do, they don't show it).
Overall (7/10): Honestly they get a point just for surprising me. For McDonald's, they really did a good job, and while the coffee is incredibly sweet, it's not bad, and it's reasonably priced. Besides, it could even finally caffeinate that person in your life who refuses to drink coffee
All in all, here are my personal reviews of four mainstream locations to get your daily dose of caffeine. What's your favorite?