Whilst a good cup of coffee at home is nice, there’s something about an epic mug from a high street chain that knocks it over, robs it and gives it an extra kicking for good measure.  Being the crème aficionados that we are, we thought it’d be cool to compare a few of the leading high street caffeine beasts and see which we enjoyed the most.  This week, it’s a duel between Starbucks (currently competing with Tescos in the ‘who can take over the world the quickest’ competition) and Costa (still red, still rather under-rated, responsible for the sheer glory that is the Fruits of the Forest hot chocolate).  Fight!

Prices.  For the more frugal amongst you, there’s a lot to be said about value for money.  However, the simple truth is that there really, really isn’t much difference between these two monsters.  Both of their ranges are priced between £2 or so, and rising up to around £3.50 for the biggest caffeine fixes.  Costa does win it out, but only by around 5p for the cheaper, smaller drinks.   If you care THAT much about 5p, might we suggest less coffee and more exploration of your deep-seated personal issues?

Winner: Costa

Flavours.  Obviously, both menus have variable options, but what we’re judging here is good old-fashioned white coffee with one sugar (because that’s what I drink, natch).  Both drinks are, I have to say, excellent.  Creamy without being sickly, not too thick and with just the right amount of bitterness from the bean.  Good marks to both Starbucks and Costa, but the former just about edges it due to me feeling a bit more sluggish an hour or so after the Costa drink.  Oh, and before any smart-asses come in, I tested them on different days!

Winner: Starbucks

Innovation.  One of the more important things a coffee shop should do (as far as we’re concerned, anyway) is to bring out new drinks for us to try.  After all, you’re not going to want a warming latte in the middle of the summer.  Whilst Starbucks charges in with the monstrous sword of fury that is the Caramel Frappuccino (a drink that should be enjoyed whilst humming ‘The Best Around’ from the Karate Kid), it just can’t beat out the sheer majesty that was the Costa Christmas range of drinks.  Whether it was the aforementioned Fruits of the Forest hot chocolate or the all-conquering Crème Brule latte, Costa slapped you around the face with innovation and then kissed it better.  All hail.

Winner: Costa.

Food.  Food – as my straining belt will tell you – matters.  That’s why the range of munch that both brands offer could make a big difference to their end score.  Unfortunately, they’ve rather inconveniently matched each other out.  Whilst it’s hard to argue with the Starbucks range of sandwiches (apart from the price: they are not cheap), Costa’s range of cakes makes me want to be ten again so I can scoff the lot without feeling too sick.  Costa cakes, Starbucks sandwiches.

Winner: A draw.

So there you go folks: an utter damp squib of a start, with both chains able to offer the perfect counter-punches to their opponent’s strengths.  If I had a gun to my head, I would choose Starbucks, but that is solely because the Caramel Frappuccino remains the one thing in life that enables me to continue to get up and go to work in the mornings.  My extremely dodgy priorities aside, I would heartily recommend either branch if you want the perfect injection of caffeine.

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