Coffee Competition: Does North Carolina Prefer Starbucks or Dunkin’?

Fact Checked by Thomas Leary

With fall freshly upon the Carolinas and temperatures starting to dip lower and lower as the days gets shorter, more and more people will rely on the power of caffeine to power their mornings. Whether it be a tall cup of steaming hot Joe or one of the countless coffee creations that were popularized by Seattle-based behemoth Starbucks in the early aughts, there’s no shortage of coffee drinks to choose from for North Carolina residents.  

Using data from Google Trends, StarbMag, and VinePair, took a brief break from North Carolina sports betting to determine if each state preferred Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts. determined the number of Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts locations per 100,000 people and the search interest for “Starbucks near me” and “Dunkin’ Donuts near me” to create a weighted scoring system. The search interest is expressed as a percentage of people searching for one of the two shops.

Favorite Coffee Brand In North Carolina

Name Stores per 100k Search Interest Weighted Score
Starbucks 3.18 0.75 1.965
Dunkin’ 1.77 0.25 1.013

Which National Coffee Brand Do Carolina Residents Prefer?

It seems that North Carolina is soundly in the Starbucks camp, versus Boston-based Dunkin’ Donuts — with much higher search volume for the Seattle chain overall.  In total, Starbucks notched a search interest weighted score of 1.965, to 1.01 for Dunkin’ Donuts, while the overall search interest was .75 for Starbucks, to .25 for Dunkin’ Donuts.  That means in North Carolina, 75% of users looking for one or the other sought information on Starbucks, against 25% for Dunkin’ Donuts. So the Seattle-based brand wins that round.

The Tar Heel State was joined in their mutual love of Starbucks by their southerly neighbors, who favored the Seattle brand over Dunkin’ Donuts by a score of 1.63 to 1.065.  Other neighboring states that chose Starbucks over Dunkin’ Donuts included Virginia and Tennessee. 

As pumpkin spice latte season approaches, it seems that residents of North Carolina, from the peaks of Appalachia to the crested shores of the Atlantic, are collectively reaching for that familiar, mermaid-clad label to get their daily fix of caffeine — with Starbucks routing Dunkin’ Donuts in the Tar Heel State, popularity-wise. 

If you enjoyed this creative piece, look for others from us at, such as: What Are North Carolina’s Favorite Ice Cream Flavors?


Christopher Boan

Christopher Boan is a lead writer at specializing in covering state issues. He has covered sports and sports betting in Arizona for more than seven years, including stops at, the Tucson Weekly and the Green Valley News.

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