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Battle of the Beverages

By Ahna Rader, Mackenzie Phan, and Camille Pierce

The winter season is now in full swing, with temperatures dropping and the gradual emergence of more festive fuzzy socks. But one thing cannot be missing from this Pacific Northwest winter motif, something that is quintessential and crucial—a coffee shop. Coffee shops are the usual go to safe haven from the cold rain showers and a great place to meet up and connect with friends over a nice “cup of jo”. But a brewing question that we at The Blazer wanted to further investigate is whether chain, or local coffee shops are better? To answer this question we went to a nearby Starbucks branch (the multi-billion dollar coffee mogul), and then to Batdorf & Bronson (a local coffeehouse down at the heart of Olympia), to compare the two places.

Staff Editor, Ahna Rader shares her opinion in comparison; ‘Exploring the more chain brand side of coffee shops in Olympia, We entered an everyday Starbucks as their holiday drink specials caught our eye. After studying their drink menu for some time I decided on a Caramel Brulee Latte. At first taste the sweetness was overwhelming, a strong almost toffee flavor filling my mouth. It was much more sugary than I’d expected, feeling more like a desert the more I drank. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely enjoyed it, but if a coffee lover is on the hunt for a genuine cup of joe Starbucks wouldn’t be my first suggestion. Our next stop for review was Batdorf and Bronson tucked between a few local stores downtown. I ordered a caramel latte, upon noticing their drink selection was nowhere near the range of the one plastered against the previous Starbuck’s wall. The drink came out in a large white mug, an intricate leaf inlain on the surface of the latte. The artistry of the coffee immediately felt much more intimate than the one at Starbucks. This drink was strong, but in a much different way than the one before. The coffee was rich and earthy, the caramel seemingly used sparingly in the creation of the drink. Still, keeping in mind that the basis of this drink was coffee, that’s exactly what it was: a genuine pure cup of coffee. All in all I think both coffee shops have their perks, it just depends what you’re looking for. Starbucks provides an accessible arsenal of grab and go refreshments, while Batdorf and bronson is a more aesthetics based cafe, in tune with the artistry of coffee.’

Next, Staff writer Camile Pierce confesses her personal assessment of the two coffee shops; ‘As familiar as most of us are with Starbucks, many small coffee shops exist with similar products. But what are the differences? I decided to compare the price as well as quality. At Starbucks, I ordered a Strawberries & Cream Frappuccino, a blended drink with fruit and dairy. In order to make a comparison, I also visited Olympia-based coffee shop, Batdorf & Bronson located in downtown Olympia. Here I ordered a mango smoothie (similarly a blended fruit drink). When it comes to cost, the Batdorf & Bronson smoothie was a mere $4 compared to the $4.95 Starbucks frappuccino, both of which I ordered the 16 oz size. In regards to quality and flavor, neither surpassed the other although there were numerous discrepancies. The Starbucks frappuccino was primarily characterized by it’s sweet yet mild flavor. With a prominent icy texture and creamy flavor, the strawberry was subtle. Contrastingly, the Batdorf & Bronson smoothie was different in almost every way. This drink had a much smoother texture rather than a rough, icy one. The mango in the smoothie had quite a punch and had slight notes of a floral flavor. Although our local coffee shop appears to be cheaper, I personally wouldn’t call it superior. What it widdles down to is personal preference. The sweet Starbucks drink has more appeal to someone with a sweet tooth while the Batdorf & Bronson smoothie would be a favorite for someone who enjoys a more mature and complex flavor.’