Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Cheap Coffee Hits: The Case for Dunkin Donuts




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In a Manila full to the brim with artisinal coffee shops, both commercial and otherwise, it’s easy to forget that the pioneer commercial donut-maker in this country was none other than the humble Dunkin Donuts. This little donut shop has obviously seen better days, except in the United States, where it actively competes with coffee and donut giants Starbucks and Krispy Kreme donuts. Here in Manila, it has gone in the way of the bakya and the passe—which, in retrospect, probably did wonders for its yearly returns.

Dunkin Donuts Taft

The Dunkin Donuts in Taft. Photo from Raincheck.

Now I am generally not a fan of anything bakya. But I love Dunkin Donuts. I particularly like three of their branches: the small, cozy waystation across the street from the Philippine General Hospital; the large coffee shop pretender along Aurora Boulevard in San Juan; and the main Dunkin Donuts branch in Cagayan De Oro’s Divisoria district. I used to kill time in between classes and / or work in any one of these branches throughout the years 2000 – 2009, and I still drop by the Taft Avenue branch whenever I’m not in a tight schedule or budget.

The thing that keeps me coming back to Dunkin is their coffee. I’m hard-pressed to find a coffee variant from Starbucks that can rival the bold flavor of Dunkin’s coffee, and while CBTL has coffee that’s just as good, their prices don’t even match (Php35 for Dunkin coffee, upwards of Php90 for anything else). I’m guessing that their beans are dark-roasted robusta and exelsa beans, since the coffee is rich and dark, and to an extent, has that delicious earth-strong flavor I’ve come to expect from barako coffee.

I also appreciate how, due to its unpopularity as a coffee shop, most Dunkin Donuts are empty of patrons dining in, as opposed to the ever-full confines of Starbucks and other more upscale coffee places. I can step into a Dunkin cafe at any time of the day, and expect to find a comfortable seat for myself; the rare times that I’ve encountered a Dunkin store full to the brim usually ends with me leaving the store with a feeling of slight betrayal.

Their donuts aren’t the best you could buy; for my money, Mister Donut has the best donuts in the country (which is another story altogether), but they’re a great complement to the coffee. I know this does nothing to help them with their branding, but I don’t really mind; all of their franchises have generally good coffee, and don’t mind it when you stay there for hours on end.

The only problem with every Dunkin Donut branch is that their shops rarely have a power outlet. I can’t, for the life of me, stay there for longer than three hours to work since my phone won’t last for much longer than that, and my laptop’s battery is busted. But this does very little to deter me. So the next time you’re in the PGH area, check out the Dunkin Donuts right across the street. There’s a good chance that you’ll find me there, at the very back, nursing a tall glass of coffee, with my face glued to a book, a notebook, or my mobile phone.

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