This is an interesting one. I was looking back on my projects during the semester and was reading through our dining hall coffee competition for the tasting challenge. That inspired me to write a What I’ve Got on one of my favorite places to get a coffee, Dunkin Donuts. Let me be very explicit up front: I DO NOT believe that Dunkin has the best coffee around. In a blind taste test, I am sure Dunkin coffee would perform quite poorly, for me and for many people. But naturally that is not why I like getting coffee from Dunkin; it is not why I like the company.
Dunkin coffee tastes like a classic, american cup of coffee. It is a little watery, often slightly too hot or too cold. It is reasonably inexpensive (and has a taste to match), and comes in cheap white styrofoam cups. It comes out quickly, as one would expect of coffee coming from a large pre-prepared vat. The actual buildings are not terribly upscale, certainly a far cry from the ‘lounge’ vibe at most Starbucks stores. But the fact that all of these things are working in concert makes the Dunkin experience very palpable and iconic. The quick, low-cost coffee shop is something that many people are looking for, both out of necessity and of desire. There’s something attractive about that feel, not quite nostalgia, but a draw to a simpler style of coffee life, an intentional distancing of oneself from the haughty hipster coffee culture that surrounds many upscale shops. It is exactly this that I find myself buying into completely.
Dunkin’s marketing department captures this brand image immaculately. “America Runs on Dunkin” is absolutely perfect; it suggests that you are going to receive an iconic cup of joe, something that will fuel you throughout your day (despite maybe tasting a tiny bit like fuel), and that you are going to be a part of a collection of people working hard and doing the same. That one slogan captures and sells the brand in its entirety, and has helped propagate the New England cult mentality about Dunkin across the country.