In defense of the mundane

There are numerous purveyors of coffee and coffee-related products in this glorious country.

It must be conceded, for the purpose of this highly critical and highly important opinion, that the two coffee titans that dominate the American caffeine market are Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts.

Tension between the two coffee superpowers came to a head on Feb. 26. This day was a dark day for Starbucks junkies nationwide.

According to a CNN article titled “Coffee break for Starbucks’ 135,000 baristas,” the coffee retailer closed its doors from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. for in-store training.

In a deft act of capitalistic retaliation, Dunkin’ Donuts, “to ensure that no coffee lover (was) denied a delicious espresso-based beverage,” sold all of its small espresso-based beverages on that fateful day for a mind-boggling 99 cents.

This brilliant move on behalf the Dunkin’ Donuts, the coffee colossus, is enough to justify its hegemony over the coffee empire.

It’s survival of the fittest in the dog-eat-dog world of barista trench warfare, and Dunkin’ Donuts has proven its worth in this area and others.

Dunkin’ Donuts’ robust blend of Arabica coffee is as invigorating as it is affordable. Granted, it may not be as fancy as the shade-grown blends from across the globe as offered by Starbucks, but hey, it gets the job done. Every morning when I reach for my bag of ground Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, my hands begin to shake with that anticipation of the swift caffeine jolt that is to follow.

I swear to God it’s not because I’m addicted to caffeine.

I can’t say I get the same sensation from Starbucks coffee.

Generally, I turn to Starbucks as a last resort – when I’m stuck in the Library Café, or hard pressed for a caffeine fix on the streets of New York City.

I must say, I prefer the atmosphere of Dunkin’ Donuts retail locations to those of Starbucks. Dunkin’ Donuts is all business. They don’t want you to be in the store any longer than you have to.

The jarring, bright orange color of its logo and retail locations says it all – buy your coffee and leave. And believe me when I say I’m fine with that.

Starbucks seems greedy. Starbucks wants you to stay a while, relaxing on its posh, earth-tone couches, maybe order a sandwich or pick up Paul McCartney’s latest record. While you sit and wait for your coffee to cool, you can peruse the many overpriced coffee-brewing gizmos.

I don’t need these things. I just want my coffee.

It must be conceded that maybe I’m just not cool enough for Starbucks. I’m not an Elliot Smith fan. I don’t have a MacBook. I only own two pairs of Converse Chuck Taylors. I don’t live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I drive a Ford Explorer.

At least Dunkin’ Donuts doesn’t rub these inadequacies in my face. Dunkin’ Donuts is a friend, and a companion when I need one. I know I can always count on my beloved Dunkin’ Donuts in my time of caffeine need, without the superfluous frills typical of Starbucks.

I run on Dunkin’ Donuts. So does America. If you love America, you will too.

Joseph Hannan is the opinions editor for The Signal and an avid coffee drinker. He can be reached at