Dutch Bros and Starbucks are arguably two of the most popular coffee chains in the United States. This leads many coffee aficionados to wonder which is cheaper because both brands offer a broad range of snacks and coffee-infused drinks.
Based on our analysis, Dutch Bros tends to be slightly cheaper than Starbucks, although pricing may vary depending on location and specific menu items.
We’ll compare the prices of the various menu items side by side from Dutch Bros and Starbucks to help you figure out which one will be easier on your budget. So, if you’re a coffee lover looking to save cash without sacrificing your daily coffee hit, read on!
Quick Overview – Dutch Bros vs. Starbucks
In 2022, Dutch Bros celebrated 22 years in business, reflecting on humble beginnings as a coffee pushcart in Oregon alongside railroad tracks in 1992. The company has experienced rapid growth since then. You can find them across the Pacific Northwest and into the Southern and Eastern portions of the United States, including in Oklahoma and Texas.
Playing on the company name, employees are Broistas instead of the popular Baristas, and they serve a range of cold and hot coffee-infused drinks, soda, milkshakes, and lemonade. They limit their food options to sweet options, including granola bars and muffin tops.
If you’re curious as to what food items Dutch Bros sell, click here.
Also hailing from the Pacific Northwest, Starbucks is an international coffee chain that began in 1971 in Seattle. It boasts the iconic mermaid logo, and Starbucks, operating under the Coffee Bean name then, introduced many North Americans to coffee drinks with an espresso base.
After 50 years, baristas serve various cold and hot drinks in their coffee houses, but they now also offer whole bean and instant coffee available to buy that you can make at home. The food menu is huge, and you can get a range of cold or hot meals for breakfast or lunch, sweets, and snacks.
A Side by Side Price Comparison of the Most Popular Drinks
|Most Popular Drink||Golden Eagle Breve||$3.50||Frappuccino||$6.00|
|Coffee||White Mocha Cold Brew||$3.50||Cappuccino||$4.95|
|Latte||French Vanilla Bean||$4.00||Vanilla Latte||$5.95|
|Summer Drink||Palm Beach Lemonade||$4.50||Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino||$6.15|
|Winter Drink||White Chocolate Dutch Frost||$3.50||Peppermint Mocha||$4.65|
|Refresher||Cotton Candy Frost||$4.50||Very Berry Hibiscus Lemonade||$4.49|
|Tea||Tropical Tea||$4.00||Pink Drink||$4.65|
|Specialty Drink||Snickerdoodle||$4.75||Starbucks Cold Brew||$5.25|
Trying to recreate some of Starbucks and Dutch Bros’ recipes is a favorite pastime for some coffee lovers. Learn how to make the popular Dutch Bros Caramelizer at home here.
Why Dutch Bros Is Cheaper Than Starbucks
Generally, Dutch Bros is cheaper than Starbucks. However, it’s also worth noting that the menu prices can fluctuate based on the local market, your location, and how steep the competition is. A few key reasons why Dutch Bros is easier on your wallet over Starbucks include:
One big reason Dutch Bros is cheaper than Starbucks is their business model. Dutch Bros operates mainly as a drive-thru coffee shop, so they don’t have to worry about paying for a big retail space to house all of their amenities like Starbucks does, like indoor plumbing, seating areas, and a big kitchen. This allows the chain to save on rent and overhead costs, which translates into lower customer costs.
Also, because Dutch Bros specializes in serving coffee and other beverages on the go, they don’t need as much equipment or supplies for baked goods or food items. This can reduce their costs even further and help keep the prices low.
Generally, Dutch Bros tend to open their locations in areas outside of high-traffic areas and with lower rent rates. Starbucks is usually the opposite; they go for prime locations in busy areas. However, you should note that the price differences between Starbucks and Dutch Bros can fluctuate, depending on the market conditions, the steep competition, and the location.
The menu simplicity also plays a role in why Dutch Bros is cheaper. If you compare the two chain’s menus, you’ll quickly see that Dutch Bros is far more limited, which means they can focus on making the few items they sell the best possible. Of course, this is also a standard cost-cutting measure.
On the other end of the spectrum, Starbucks has a much more extensive menu that features more food items, drinks, and snacks. This means they need to stock a broader range of supplies and ingredients, which can boost costs. Finally, creating much more complex food items or drinks can require more skill and time from the baristas, which can also increase costs.
Does the simple menu make it easier to work at Dutch Bros? Find out what a typical day looks like working as a “bro-ista” here.
Other Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Dutch Bros and Starbucks
While price is the driving factor for many people when it comes to choosing between the two coffee giants, there are other factors that come into play. The quality of your drink, overall experience, and menu options are all something to consider, and we’ll break them down below.
Beverage Size Options
The difference in your drink size options is noticeable when you compare Starbucks to Dutch Bros. Starbucks has several sizes available, including short, tall, grande, venti, and Trenta. Trenta is the biggest size you can get at 31 ounces, and short is the smallest at 8 ounces.
Dutch Bros keeps things much simpler, offering easy-to-remember and standard small, medium, and large sizes. While this may not seem like a lot, you have to remember that a medium size Dutch Bros beverage is roughly equivalent to one of Starbucks’ grande beverages.
Winner: Dutch Bros
Intimidated to order at Starbucks because of the sheer options? We’ve got you covered by decoding Starbucks lingo here.
At the time of writing, you can get most Dutch Bros specialty, flavored coffee drinks starting at $3.75 for a small and going up to $7.25 for a 32-ounce blended smoothie. The food items range from $1.50 to $2.25 each.
Starbucks has higher price points in general, and 12-ounce plain lattes start at $3.85 and go up when you customize it and add flavorings or syrups. The highest drink prices are for the Venti sizes with specialty drinks, starting at $5.95. Starbucks also has a broader food selection, with prices starting at $1.25 and going up to $8.45.
Winner: Dutch Bros
If you don’t want to pay for your coffee, we’ll tell you how to make the Dutch Bros Golden Eagle Freeze in the comfort of your home here.
Starbucks offers nearly endless customization options. You can dictate the temperature, how many shots, milk foam amounts, amount and type of sweeteners, sauces, syrups, flavors, and dairy and non-dairy options. They have lactose free, whole, nonfat, and 2% milk, half-and-half, or heavy cream, or you can also add almond, oat, soy, or coconut milk. In addition, various roasts are available, including blonde, dark, medium, and more.
Dutch Bros has tea and coffee drinks that you can get hot or cold, and you can add additional shots, but the company can’t specify how much foam or the temperature of the shots you get. You can pick from coconut, almond, or oat milk instead of half-and-half. You also need to know their syrups, as Dutch Bros doesn’t list them. The menu focuses more on predetermined flavor profiles than customization.
Starbucks has more drinks available with 100 calories or less, but this is mainly because the company offers a host of unflavored coffee drinks with no sauces or syrups added. It’s also possible to customize drinks with almond or nonfat milk, and these options have fewer calories than any type of dairy-based milk.
Dutch Bros also offers low-calorie drinks, and you can choose from several sugar-free syrups to create a lower-calorie drink. However, the only dairy option they have on the menu is half-and-half, and no nonfat milk options are available.
Starbucks has a reputation for using high-quality, ethically sourced coffee beans. Starbucks has been very vocal about its efforts here. They claim their ability to give you high-quality coffee justifies their higher price points.
On the other hand, Dutch Bros buries where they get their Dutch Bros Private Reserve Coffee Blend in the FAQ section of the website on the Contact page. The marketing team also doesn’t emphasize the coffee quality. Instead, Dutch Bros focuses on flavor and fun.
Starbucks is the main reason many North Americans have heard of and tried European-based espresso drinks like the macchiato. In addition, the company is extremely well-known for the Frappuccino, a blended drink similar to a smoothie or milkshake with whipped cream, and the seasonal Pumpkin Spice Latte.
However, Dutch Bros highlights their signature drinks by giving them fun, catchy names in almost all drink categories, including the Double RainBro, Annihilator, Double Torture, Shark Attack, and the 9-1-1 for an Irish creme breve with six shots.
Winner: Dutch Bros
The signature and seasonal drinks are a huge pull for both Starbucks and Dutch Bros, and we unlocked how to make the Dutch Bros’ Rebel and what creamers your favorite coffee shops use so you can have delicious coffee at home.
Starbucks has brewed coffee that comes in different roasts, steeped green, black, and herbal teas, cold brews, tea lattes, and a range of cold and hot espresso-based drinks, inducing Americano, espresso shots, lattes, cappuccinos, mochas, and macchiatos. Starbucks also has lemonade, bottled water, smoothies, fruit juices, apple cider, hot cocoa, and steamed or cold milk.
The menu at Dutch Bros doesn’t feature brewed coffee, but they do have Americano. They also don’t market their espresso-based drinks as traditional Italian coffee like lattes, cappuccinos, or macchiatos, as these have precise milk ratios to espresso. Instead, they offer espresso mixed with half-and-half, a non-dairy substitute, or flavored syrups. Dutch Bros also offers green or black tea, cold brewed coffee, milkshakes, energy drinks, lemonades, smoothies, hot cocoa, and sodas.
While Dutch Bros is generally considered cheaper than Starbucks, there are other factors to consider when deciding between the two. Dutch Bros’ simpler menu, drive-thru business model, and less expensive locations contribute to their lower prices. However, the overall experience, drink quality, and menu options are important considerations that may influence which coffee shop you visit. Choosing Dutch Bros or Starbucks will ultimately depend on your preferences and priorities as a coffee consumer.