Starbucks Pumpkin Spice   Latte

Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte (Photo by Nathan J Hilton on Pixels)

Millions of people need their daily jolt of caffeine with that morning cup of coffee. With so many on the go, they don’t have time to brew their own pot and have to rely on their favorite fast food places. And with fall right around the corner, picking up something to warm you up before work is even more tempting. To help alleviate these coffee concerns, StudyFinds has put together a list of the best fast food fall coffee.

Not only can coffee feel satisfying first thing in the morning, but it can also keep you living longer! Drinking two or three cups a day could add years to your life by keeping your heart healthy. International researchers found that the world’s most popular beverage lowers the risk of heart disease and dangerous heart rhythms. The team found that the optimum effects of drinking coffee appeared in people who had two or three cups each day. They had a 10 to 15 percent lower risk of developing coronary heart disease, heart failure, a heart rhythm problem, or dying for any reason.

Coffee has even more health benefits! Italian researchers report that people who drink two or three cups of coffee per day have lower blood pressure than those who drink less. Scholars analyzed a sample of 720 men and 783 women from the Brisighella Heart Study. They compared blood pressure levels, coffee consumption habits, and other clinical data points for each person. “The results are very clear: peripheral blood pressure was significantly lower in individuals consuming one to three cups of coffee a day than in non-coffee drinkers,” says study first author Arrigo Cicero, professor at the Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences at the University of Bologna, in a media release.

Craving fall flavors as the leaves change? StudyFinds has revealed the top five best fast food fall coffee for the season. Did we miss one? Let us know in the comments below!

dunkin donuts dunkin donuts cup
Dunkin Coffee (Photo by Zheka Boychenko on Unsplash)

The List: Best Fast Food Fall Coffee, According to Experts

1. Starbucks

Not surprisingly, Starbucks tops the list for best fast food coffee for the fall season. “When it comes to Starbucks, it’s all about the variety. No matter what type of coffee you prefer, they have it and have probably mastered it. Want a nitrogen-infused, slow-steeped, cold brew with cascading crema? They’ve got it. Want a blonde espresso blessed with coconut milk and vanilla bean powder? They have that too. On top of all their choices, they are mindful about their social impact and go the extra mile to source their products ethically and sustainably,” writes Mashed. “If you’re addicted to Starbucks, the money can add up quickly. But most Starbucks loyalists will tell you that the money is worth it for the best fast food coffee in the history of ever.”

“We’ve arrived at the first-place spot in this ranking. Are you shocked that it’s Starbucks? This is not a personal bias; when you objectively examine the quality of Starbucks’ roasts, they are absolutely unmatched,” notes Tasting Table. “Originating in Seattle (at the Pike Place store, hence the roast name), Starbucks’ entire brand is making quality coffee — their beverages just happen to be quick, consistent, and prevalent enough to rank as fast food.”

Restaurant Clicks is a fan of the caramel macchiato with coconut milk made with blonde espresso. “Starbucks is one of the most renowned coffee chains globally, operating its stores and setting up franchisees to do the same. If you’re particular about your coffee, Starbucks will probably be your best bet. Not only does Starbucks have a large selection of milks, including dairy-free options, but at Starbucks, you have your choice of roasts too! My go-to drink at Starbucks is a caramel macchiato with coconut milk made with blonde espresso. Contrary to popular belief, lightly roasted coffee has more caffeine than a dark roast! If you’re looking for a little extra boost, I recommend ordering whatever you’re drinking with a Starbucks’ signature blonde roasts.”

2. Chick-fil-A

We’ve all seen the cows holding the “Eat More Chikin” signs, but maybe they should also put up “Drink More Coffee.” “The Georgia-based chain wins major points for brewing specialty, sustainably sourced beans from Thrive Farmers,” writes Thrillist. “Chick-fil-A claims each cup has notes of ‘smooth caramel and a nutty finish,’ which isn’t quite what we tasted. That said, we got plenty of nuttiness and cocoa notes up front, and unlike many of the other coffees we tried, it doesn’t finish too bitter (though we can’t seem to find those caramel notes). Overall, it’s a rich, fine cup of coffee worthy of being served at a coffee shop, let alone a fast food chicken chain.”

“Here was a fast-food cup of coffee that tasted like real coffee!” complimented Taste of Home. “Not mass-produced or an afterthought for a place best known for chicken sandwiches. Apparently Chick-fil-A switched its coffee provider in 2014, and the new brew was developed to pair with the restaurant’s breakfast menu. Lo and behold, a year later, coffee sales had doubled. I guess others agree, Chick-fil-A brews a quality cup of coffee.”

Even though it’s getting cooler, doesn’t mean you have to stop ordering iced coffee. “I got the vanilla (as opposed to the regular) and after just one sip I said to myself, ‘Chick-Fil-A came to play!'” says All Mom Does. “The coffee is strong enough that the flavor holds up despite the added syrup, but it’s not a bitter-strong; it’s a delicious-good-coffee strong. It was really creamy and the syrup had a great flavor.”

3. Dunkin’

Dunkin’ is much more than just donuts and munchkins — they also have a great cup of java, too. “There’s a reason people swing by Dunkin’ every morning before work and get a simple coffee; it’s quality, it’s quick, and it’s reliable,” says Tasting Table. “While regional variations on beverages may vary, that’s part of the fun of the experience. That rarely happens, however, when ordering a simple coffee rather than an elaborate latte situation. Dunkin’ earned its second-place ranking, as did the top contender.”

“The best part about Dunkin’ is all the options. They have the standard flavor shots and a few that stand out such as blueberry, coconut, and even pumpkin when it’s in season. Dunkin’ also has really good cold brew that is steeped in cold water overnight for optimal taste,” writes Mashed. “If you keep your expectations in check and don’t go in thinking you’ll be given greatness in a cup, you’ll be more than satisfied by the coffee options Dunkin’ has to offer.”

And with fall nearing, give Pumpkin Spiced Iced Coffee a try at Dunkin’. “If you haven’t even been to Dunkin’, their menu is very daunting. But thankfully, the lady who worked there was really helpful in putting together a drink that was perfect for what I was in the mood for. Her biggest tip though, was to NEVER get added sugar in the drink—just get an iced coffee with cream and a flavor,” notes Spoon University. “And that’s how we ended up with the iced coffee with cream and pumpkin flavoring. It is clearly not the highest quality coffee, but it’s a nice to drink, and has subtle pumpkin flavor and is very smooth with the added cream.”

4. McDonald’s

If you’re not near any of the fast-food restaurants above, McDonald’s fall coffee can always get the job done. “McDonald’s has curated an extensive list of coffee beverages, rivaling the options available at places that specialize in coffee,” writes Restaurant Clicks. “Hot and iced mochas, lattes, cappuccinos, and regular coffee are available here. If you like blended coffee, try one of the frappès. The restaurant’s drinks use a bold espresso made from dark roast sustainably-sourced beans. When I stop by McDonald’s for my morning cup of coffee, I like to order the french vanilla cappuccino. The flavored syrup adds just the right amount of sweetness. McDonald’s also uses whole milk in their coffee drinks, so if you enjoy a rich-tasting coffee, try the options at this restaurant.”

McDonald's coffee in a to-go tray
McDonald’s coffee in a to-go tray (Photo by Tetiana Horielova on Unsplash)

“Honestly, there isn’t another traditional fast-food burger spot that comes close to touching McDonald’s McCafe; with an espresso machine, you can do anything, and McDonald’s seems to have taken that to heart. Today, lots of people go to McDonald’s in the morning for their daily cup of joe, and it’s easy to see why,” notes Tasting Table. “Though the menu isn’t as extensive as Starbucks, Dunkin’ and the like, the McCafe coffee blends are smooth, easy to drink, and enjoyable. The dark roast espresso serves as a pick-me-up in a good way rather than an abrasive one, and if you want to skip the espresso-based drinks and go for a classic one, the Premium Roast Coffee is distinctly brewed every 30 minutes. That means it hasn’t been sitting there all day, and you get a fresh batch every time.”

Thrillist says patrons should pair their coffee with a McMuffin or McGriddle. “We’re always charmed by the McCafé branding on coffee cups at Mickey D’s. Like us, you probably associate the chain with childhood chicken nugget memories and eating piles of fries after high school, so to the chain commit to using a very fancy French accent mark on its cups is cute. The coffee is worthy of that accent mark, as there’s a host of cocoa notes, and not an overwhelming burnt flavor (though there are some cardboard notes, unfortunately). The finish isn’t too bitter, either.”

5. Wendy’s

Rounding out the top five might be a surprising choice to some — Wendy’s. Known for its hamburgers and chicken sandwiches, Wendy’s is becoming a fast-food fall coffee favorite. “Bottom line: Go with the delightful a vanilla or chocolate Frosty-ccino — iced coffee that’s flavored like a Frosty — on your next Wendy’s breakfast run,” writes Thrillist.

“It’s interesting: I found the Wendy’s cup of coffee to again taste quite similar to the McDonald’s and Burger King options,” notes Taste of Home. “I started to wonder if all three restaurants use the same coffee supplier! Again, I liked the convenience and availability. However, the flavor wasn’t as bold as I’d like, but someone who prefers a milder coffee might enjoy this option.”

Tasting Table says Wendy’s coffee is “legions ahead” of other fast-food coffee options. “Wendy’s deserves a huge pat on the pack for its approach to coffee. It has an espresso machine, and wow does that make a difference in a world where Starbucks and its competitors rule the roost. There’s no disappointing coffee at Wendy’s, which is refreshing; you have a world of options (kind of), from a standard latte to a cappuccino, a flat white, Americano, an espresso shot, and mocha. All the drinks are hot, and though you could probably ask for any of them iced, it isn’t recommended, as it’ll most certainly dilute the drink.”

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.

About Matt Higgins

Matt Higgins worked in national and local news for 15 years. He started out as an overnight production assistant at Fox News Radio in 2007 and ended in 2021 as the Digital Managing Editor at CBS Philadelphia. Following his news career, he spent one year in the automotive industry as a Digital Platforms Content Specialist contractor with Subaru of America and is currently a freelance writer and editor for StudyFinds. Matt believes in facts, science and Philadelphia sports teams crushing his soul.

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