Gas Station Coffee Vs Starbucks Coffee

The stage is set: It’s 7:00 AM, you’re running five minutes late, and you need the elixir of American life, coffee.

You careen to a halt as the green light has unexpectedly turned red. Your annoyance slowly rises. Contemplating life, you notice a ray of sunlight shattering through the gray clouds. A gas station sits to your left, and a Starbucks to your right. It’s as if there’s an Angel and Devil standing on either shoulder.

Judgment sinks its fangs into your neck. Your next decision about where to go for coffee will either gain my wrath or my sincere appreciation.

In full disclosure, when given the choice between the two, I always choose gas station coffee over Starbucks. At this point, I see it as an inkling of pride. Pour yourself a cup of mud, sit back, and enjoy my plea for Gas Station Coffee.

Gas Station Coffee: Coffee Of The Common Man.

I doubt many people receive aesthetic pleasure from gas stations. They are always somewhat dirty, smell of the same odor, and the same fifteen people work at every gas station in the country.

Despite these flattering nuances, gas stations are a morning haven for the common man and serve a darn good cup of coffee. There is a special communion that takes place every morning in gas stations across America. It’s held by the finest coffee drinkers known to man: The Morning Coffee Crowd (MCC).

These morning road warriors come from all walks of life, hold various titles, and, most importantly, share the belief that you can buy a damn good cup of coffee for the appropriate price. I’m inviting you to the coffee counter, join the MCC brotherhood, and ditch the straight and narrow.

Why do some people choose gas station coffee over heavy hitters such as Starbucks and Dunkin Doughnuts? They needed gas? A flat tire led them there? They’re craving gas station burritos?

The reason is basic economics. If you want to save money and want your caffeine fix, go to your local gas station. Sleepy eyed, you’ll pour yourself a cup, nod to your fellow coffee drinker, and mutter a gruff sound that loosely translates into “Good Morning.”

You’ll pay the half-smiling, half-stoned cashier you’ve seen your entire life, walk to your car and drive off into the sunrise. Carpe Diem, I hope you brought your sunglasses.

The morning Gas Station experience offers you the convenience of fresh coffee without the annoyance of waiting on a barista to make a Carmel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino.

Sure, sometimes you might be behind the guy that bottlenecks the line as he buys 20 instant lotto tickets, but I must admit that I’m rooting for him. May your mistress lady luck be on your side!

When you make the gas station your premier morning coffee destination, you’ll develop an irrational belief that anyone who doesn’t drink gas station coffee is wrong. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and you have your $2.00 twenty-four-ounce cup of morning mud. Life is good.

***In all fairness, there are some gas stations that are terrible, stuck in 1983, and only offer powdered cream as an option. Avoid these stations at all costs; stay away from these cheap bastards.***

Starbucks: The Iron Giant

It’s never good to knock someone or something for being successful. That being said I won’t attack Starbucks for being mainstream. Their success and popularity are due to a great product, great branding, years of hard work, and the adoration of white women everywhere.

All things I cannot knock but only appreciate. In full disclosure, I do catch myself drinking Starbucks at least once a month, and yes, they have alright coffee.

In a coffee-to-coffee comparison, I believe that gas stations match up evenly with Starbucks. I have a hard time paying a dollar or two more for a cup of coffee that doesn’t taste significantly better than its one-dollar competition.

The driving force behind my love for gas station coffee is I hold the belief that many people that are die-hard Starbucks drinkers carry a sense of pretentiousness. My distaste for pretentiousness has directly led to my admiration for gas station coffee.

Many Starbucks drinkers are kind of like the people that brag they are from a certain area. Oh, when you weren’t in existence, did you request to be born to your exact set of parents in the precise area of your choosing? Fascinating.

Some Starbucks drinkers pride themselves on the fact they drink Starbucks. I appreciate pride but harboring an elitist view on coffee that is sold in more than 20,000 locations to me is a contradiction. The following that Starbucks carries is frustrating, fascinating, cool, and impressive.

If you drink anything other than coffee, then yes, by all means, go to Starbucks; gas stations are limited. If you are a pure coffee drinker, save yourself the hassle of waiting in line and go to a gas station.

It’s faster, cheaper, and without the suffocating air of pretentiousness. As I said, I won’t attack Starbucks for being successful, but I’ll make a claim that Starbucks is essentially as common as Walmart, Target, and Mcdonalds’. I’ll also acknowledge that Gas stations are pretty damn common, and this article displays a sense of pretentiousness for gas stations. The world spins in a full circle.

The point of this article is a plea to root for the underdog. In a world where it’s cool to go to Starbucks, sit down and talk about the doldrums of the day, I ask you to take the road less traveled and choose gas station coffee. Choosing gas station coffee is fighting for a cleaner, safer, less pretentious future. God speed.

349 thoughts on “Gas Station Coffee Vs Starbucks Coffee

      1. Oh No, Tony. I am a purist when it comes to GOOD coffee. Gas Station coffee,…last resort for me. Starbucks, heck yeah! Love the taste, love the atmosphere and…well, thats just me, but I enjoy your writing. Keep it coming!

  1. Hey – I know this is an old thread but would still like to leave a comment. I googled the phrase ‘why is gas station coffee so good’ and your blog was the first search result. I feel exactly the same way you do when it comes to Gas Station coffee. There is a Holiday gas station about 2 miles from home. I like their ‘Espresso blend’ which is bold, but not bitter. A small size cup with a sleeve and lid costs $1.06. I like it with sugar and creamer. They have muffins and donuts too. The smell of the coffee sparks up my neurons and they start to grind the very next moment 🙂

    A Starbucks/Caribou small black coffee costs twice as much but is bitter, bland, super-hyped, and overrated. More than the taste of coffee, I like the flavor which is missing with the chain of corporate coffee shops. And they look at you like you are some cheap fellow when you ask for plain coffee. I used to like hot chocolate from Starbucks but I now prepare my own by using Hershey’s dark chocolate and milk at home and that tastes a lot better 🙂

  2. FYI, what Starbucks does to a cup of tea should be illegal. I don’t know how they can mess up hot water and a tea bag, but they do. I’d rather go to the gas station and buy bottled iced tea. So that grumpy woman by the cold drinks? That’s me.

  3. Fun post! When I used to travel in the Northwest, I realized that someone’s coffee order was directly proportional to how big an asshole they were. That half-calf, skinny latte with extra foam guy… You did miss the new kid on the coffee block, also the champion of the normal dude: McDonald’s Their coffee is cheap and it doesn’t suck.

  4. This is the right blog for anyone who wants to find out about this topic. You realize so much its almost hard to argue with you. You definitely put a new spin on a topic thats been written about for years. Great stuff, just great!

  5. I must admit when I 1st met my husband he swore by gas station coffee and I thought he was insane. I preferred a white mocha cappucino. But now, I understand. No, gas station coffee does not equal a white mocha cappucino but it still is amazing.

  6. Ok so I’m a big Starbucks fan but din’t become one until a couple years ago a friend of mine got me to go there and I have been hooked ever since. In the beginning I used to be a Kwik Shop girl and that coffee and pizza used to do me just fine. I had to grin as I read your article so now I am going to have to go and and continue this as a blog of my own cause it has brought back memories….thanks with a smile

  7. I haven’t made the trip in a few years, but I use to regularly travel from Eastern Wyoming to various points on the west coast. Getting Coffee at a gas station in Western parts of Wyoming was always that brutal 1983 C-Store style, nasty AF coffee that presented itself as either too watered down or like sludge. These days I am guessing you can find at least one decent cold coffee in the cooler. I would end up resorting to Jolt Cola until Five Hour Energy became a “thing” for those long haul trips.

  8. My husband prefers Speedway coffee to Starbucks any day of the week. He can make whatever combination he wants with no waiting. As for me, I don’t drink coffee except for a sip or two added to hot chocolate, but I can get that combo at gas station, too.

    Love this piece of satire, and glad I stopped by your blog.

  9. I wouldn’t get coffee from Starbucks or a Gas (we call them petrol stations in Britain) Station. But then I don’t drive or travel by car so haven’t been in a petrol station since I worked in one when I was a teenager (many many many years ago and they didn’t serve coffee back then) and I think Starbucks coffee is proper nasty! But nice insight into your coffee buying decisions.


  10. Thanks for liking one of my posts and I loved this coffee blog. I am not drinking as much SBbux as I used to. There are other local/regional chains I buy from and I like a well-known midwestern gas chain’s coffee so I buy gas from there and get points and when I get enough, a large 24 oz is free!

    Have a great and blessed day!


  11. Starbucks coffee is poison! I’d rather buy coffee from anywhere else. Our petrol stations (I’ve seem the comment from the lady from here already so know you know that’s what we call has stations over here) mostly have the instant Costa coffee machines which are slightly better than greasy spoon truck stops! I’m a basic black coffee drinker so as long as it’s not Starbucks bitter rubbish I’ll drink any coffee made with freshly ground beans! Great write for my first read of the day. I love your tongue-in-cheek attitude!

    1. Thank you so much for giving this a read! I really enjoy how the UK uses the phrase petrol stations – it sounds much fancier than a regular-joe gas station.

      Drinking black coffee is for the bold – I like that!

  12. Living in Italy, we like GOOD coffee. However, I do not consider Starbucks to be GOOD coffee. When we come to our home in the states, I prefer my own espresso at home. If I must drink the “Acqua Sporca” (dirty water), I would choose the economical over the exaggerated Starbucks any day of the week. For the basic jolt, gas station coffee is just fine!

  13. I’ve never had Starbucks and doubt I ever will. The closest one to me is about an hour away, though I have my choice of directions to travel. I can go to several local gas stations, get coffee with an array of creamer and sweetener options. Or I can choose cold coffee or even cappuccino. Gas stations have come a long way. You should try a truck stop….sometimes more choices, sometimes no choices. Usually good, and the gamble on how many choices can be interesting!

  14. Is it actually possible I didn’t comment on this one. After all, Coffee is right up there with air as requirement for life with me. At work they brought in some kind of designer coffee and they asked for a review of it. I told them it tasted like something found in the bottom of a sheep camp coffee pot where the sheepherder mixed in some pine needles, a couple of rocks, a little grass and tree bark, and then added something that came out of the south end of a north bound deer for flavor.
    Guess my problem is I’m regular joe, and I like my joe regular.

  15. I’m actually a homemade coffee fresh outta bed drinker. I can’t afford coffee on the go, but when I do, I’m a “good cup of coffee” drinker… Whether a big company barista or a quick in and out Get Go station.

  16. What I love about gas station coffee is the option to mix and match blends, caff and decaf, instant flavored cappuccinos, syrups, cinnamon, cocoa powder — whatever suits your fancy. And no one cares! Best option for long road trips when you need the right hit of sugar, flavor, and caffeine to keep driving!

  17. I feel like the Midwest-you talk only about NY and CA and leave out the rest of all coffee country. What about Dunkin, the independent coffee shops, or home brewed. And if you don’t mind spending more, Gloria Jeans Coffee -you can taste the difference.

    Drinking gas station coffee is rolling the dice when you’re driving in unknown lands. Some is good, some poor, some vomitable. But then there is that sense of adventure.

  18. But first, coffee. I do enjoy Starbucks coffee, but not their politics. Given a choice, it would be gas station coffee, hands down. Thanks for coming to my blog, and for the follow.

  19. hilarious! and perfect. though i don’t drink it daily like a lot of americans, i’d prefer instant coffee from trader joe’s at home, or dunkin donuts…unlike starbucks, you don’t have to ‘make it yourself’..the regular cup of coffee will come done up by the barista with cream and sugar if you like. that’s enough to make me smile. #convenience and starbucks is too strong for me.

  20. Loved this! I enjoy gas stations, I sometimes just study all the snacks and drink coolers. They are odd micro climates, gas stations. I am from Alaska and Anchorage is coffee mad- I miss being able to get coffee every ten yards. Also Kaladi Brothers coffee is my favorite -so smooth… miss it! ! Starbucks Coffee always gives me a burnt hair aftertaste ugh!

  21. Even though this is satire, I’m 100% onboard the gas station coffee movement! #gassycoffee (I actually don’t like Starbucks coffee. *ducks* and/or *hides*)

  22. I’m with you, Tony. For some reason, Starbucks coffee carries cachet. Maybe it’s the flower they paint with cream or the cute baristas. I’ve tasted better ‘Navy coffee’, you know, where if you let the spoon go, it melts down into the cup.

    At least in a gas station you have a chance of getting something good. In our neighborhood we have a combination gas station/sushi bar. I’m curious and appreciate business people taking risks, but I’m not ready for that.

    1. That’s such an odd combination for a gas station. I’m with you, I’m not ready for gas station sushi either … the gas station egg salad sandwich was a big enough leap as it was

  23. We are of the same mind, homie. When it is that ever critical rise, shine, power up and crush, gas station has my business every time. Its almost like wine and whisky. I’ll let you draw your own parallel there. Good read.

  24. I was going to comment on the pretentiousness of favoring gas station coffee to protest the pretentiousness of Starbucks drinkers, but you managed to work that in there, too.
    I have never bought plain coffee at Starbucks, but to be honest, the only plain coffee I buy anywhere is what I make at home – all of my coffee outside of home is free (work, doctors’ waiting rooms, auto-repair shops) unless I’m eating at a restaurant.
    Stick with what you like, not with what the crowd tells you you should like. Great read!

  25. Loved it, very funny (and in my part of the world, true). Of course, my city has a homegrown farm boy start up of Dutch Brothers, to which I supported someone’s kid in college, but have long since given it up. Starbucks can barely squeeze a drive through because normal people understand that Starbucks on purpose burns the coffee beans. And the rest just love that Starbucks can’t get a foot in the door while Dutch Bros have moved into many other states, even -gasp- California, and Seattle.

    That being said I make my own black coffee, generic. My husband *has* to have whole beans to grind but before we met I was the ‘what’s on sale’ coffee drinker.

    Don’t much care for gas station or any restaurant coffee, so I stick to my mud and follow through the day with the best-ever well water on the face of the earth. If we travel we bring the beans, the grinder, the filters… Men. They can be so high maintenance. 😉

    Plus, I have better things to do with my money. Buy books. On rare occasion, I will find a cozy coffee shop to read a book or write, meet up with a friend. Can’t bring my own coffee…

  26. I’m with you on the coffee thing, babe! Give me steaming hot coffee that leaves a little residue in the bottom of the cup that makes you wonder just exactly what the hell you were drinking, any day. I want something so strong it takes your breath away. (Never mind, Jack Daniels just crept in my head. I hate it when that happens!) Okay, I want something so strong it would make a cowboy wince. (Better)
    I’m not a huge fan of grabbing coffee on the go, but admit I did swing by for a cup with my son when we were visiting a Target one day not too long ago. 2 cups and $10 later I was kicking myself in the ass on the way to the car. I just couldn’t rationalize spending that much and there wasn’t a jukebox or pool table to go with it. Lol!

  27. To late, totally took this seriously and went out of my way to get a frequent buyers card from my local gas station.

    Viva La Revolution!

    P.S. Love the post!

  28. amen. I am a sales person and on the road a lot my coffee stop is Holiday. I almost vomit when a customer requests to meet at Starbucks and yes hats off to their success. It amazes me when I see young people paying for coffee with their parents money or young adults that need to be investing in a retirement – good grief. I am hoping Holiday gas station is using a supplier that is environmentally friendly and sustainable, that is actually how I discovered your article. back to my search.

  29. You have probably read all the comments I could make, and I know this is old but it showed up on my blog, so my comments are that 1) I totally agree with you, my choice being QT if I have coffee on the road, and 2) you hit the nail on the head with the whole “pretentious” thing. Exactly how I feel about Starbucks 😊

  30. “a darn good cup of coffee.”

    I’ve tasted American gas station coffee. And Starbucks.

    You should come to Melbourne and get some proper coffee.

    Coffee needs to be freshly roasted and ground, and very hot water forced through under pressure. Otherwise you get a burnt and bitter brew.

    I have a coffee grinder and an Aeropress, and short of going out for a barista cup, it’s pretty good.

    American gas stations. Half coffee, half beef jerky, all of it awful.

      1. All propaganda. The UK has more liberty, and they are a mean little country. Stalin’s Russia had fewer people behind bars than America does.

        Most countries have life pretty good. Much as I love America, it’s not near the top. Sweden or New Zealand would be my pick.

        If America stopped fighting with itself, maybe things would improve.

        Food is good, though. New Orleans gumbo is divine. Lamberts in Missouri is such a fun place to eat. Plant in San Francisco – so many places.

        But for coffee, Melbourne’s laneways are the best.

  31. It helps that you can order a “large coffee” at the gas station and they know what you are talking about, whereas you will receive blank stares at Starbucks.

  32. I’m old enough to remember when Dunkin’ Donuts was about donuts and the coffee was something to dunk them in. And the donuts had handles so that you didn’t get your fingers wet.

  33. You make good, persuasive points.

    If I ever find myself in the USA (which is unlikely) and develop a craving for coffee (also unlikely) I will definitely visit the Gas Station.

    1. If that time comes, there will be some stoned 19 year old who will ask you “how was your day” and not really mean in. Thanks for reading!!

  34. Hi from Tokyo, Japan. I’m a Japanese non-native English speaker, teaching basic English. I had to translate the phrase “gas station coffee”, which I hadn’t known. From the context, it read, like, “coffee tasting not so good” but I was not sure. In my dictionary there was no “gas station coffee”. Finally I googled the phrase and reached your website. Thank you for making me feel what it is like.

    1. HahAh the pleasure is all mine. Yeah it essentially is just coffee sold at a gas station. Most people have negative thoughts on all things gas station so I thought it would be funny to paint another picture.

      1. Your writings seem to be a very good lesson for me, so I will visit here regularly from now on. Arigato (Thanks)

      2. I’m sure I will visit here regularly from now on. Your writings seem to be good English lessons for me 😀

  35. Funny story–I used to non-ironically ask Starbucks employees if they could make me something that tastes like a gas station vanilla cappuccino. After enduring the inevitable look of disgust on their face for 10 seconds, they then conceded that, yes, they could do that for me by simply adding a little bit more vanilla syrup to their own vanilla latte. Oh, to be young and diabetes free. 🙂

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