Costa Coffee Vs. McDonald’s (Comparing The Best Coffee Chains)

Last Updated on May 8, 2022 by John Moretti

Given the rise of coffee franchises such as Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, it’s no surprise that other franchises would evolve to include coffee as staples on their menus or that other large-scale coffee houses would seek to capitalize on a growing coffee market. So how then does Costa Coffee compare to McDonald’s? 

Although McDonald’s may be better known for its fast-food menu, the use of 100% Arabica beans from multiple suppliers means that McDonald’s produces coffee with better variety and neutral tastes, compared to Costa Coffee’s more acquired blends which combine Arabica and Robusta beans. 

While the above is a generalization of why most people prefer McDonald’s coffee over Costa Coffee, it is worth exploring some of the reasons below to allow you to determine which you think is the better franchise brew:

Costa Coffee Advantages 

Founded in 1971, Costa Coffee is the second largest coffee house in the world and the biggest coffee house to originate in the United Kingdom.

Although Costa Coffee was a well-known and respected coffee franchise, the purchasing of Costa Coffee by Coca-Cola in 2019 led to unprecedented growth, with Costa Coffee boasting over 3 400 stores across 31 countries globally! 

Therefore, while it may still be a smaller brand and have fewer stores globally than McDonald’s, it still remains a heavy-hitter in its own right in both the coffee house and franchise restaurant industry.

Speed And Accessibility  

Unlike McDonald’s, which focuses primarily on using physical stores and takeaway services as the primary method of giving customers access to their food and coffee products, Costa Coffee has invested heavily in vending machines for ease of access and speed. 

Costa Coffee’s business model in the United Kingdom relies heavily on having coffee vending machines of varying sizes in public spaces such as gas stations, shopping malls, and university campuses.

This business model is expected to be the primary method of expansion post-Covid restrictions and the focus on social distancing as well as hygiene. Consequently, while Costa Coffee is not available in the United States of America at the time of writing, this may be one of the methods they intend to enter the American coffee market!

Rewards Program 

Following in the footsteps of more established rewards programs from other coffeehouses such as Starbucks

Costa Coffee has some generous rewards for loyal customers, all of which are easily accessible on the Costa Club mobile app, available on both Google Play and Apple storefronts. 

These rewards are earned in Costa Coffee stores as well as through using any of their vending machines:

  • Get one free coffee product from Costa Coffee for every coffee bought in-store or via a Costa Coffee Express vending machine, 
  • Get a free coffee product in-store after every four reuses of a Costa Coffee cup, 
  • A free slice of cake on your birthday, and 
  • Exclusive rewards and deals for Costa Coffee Club members. 

Further to the above, the Costa Coffee Club comes with an easy-to-follow online guide to help new users install the app and to maximize their usage/benefits from the app. 

McDonald’s Advantages 

With the inclusion of McCafe in most McDonald’s restaurants post-1993, Mcdonald’s has arisen as a serious contender in the franchise coffee house industry by sporting a variety of coffee products and snacks at affordable prices.


All McDonald’s coffee products are made with 100% Arabica coffee beans from four established coffee roasters and suppliers: 

  1. McDonald’s/McCafe Premium Roast Coffee, 
  2. Newman’s Own Organic Blend, 
  3. Seattle’s Best, and
  4. Gavina Gourmet Coffee.

The reason why McDonald’s opted to use Arabica beans, rather than blending their coffee with Robusta beans like Costa Coffee, is because Arabica coffee is considered to have a fuller, smoother, and more palatable taste and texture compared to Robusta.

Further to the above, Arabica beans have less caffeine than Robusta beans. Overall, this combination of reduced caffeine and more accessible flavor notes makes Arabica beans the superior coffee to use when making various types of coffee products, with the intention of appealing to a wider consumer base.


Because coffee products are a substitute or addition to McDonald’s primary market of fast food and McDonald’s established suppliers and trade agreements, McDonald’s coffee is usually cheaper than Costa Coffee – regardless of the type, size, or variety of coffee product being compared.  

Costa Coffee Disadvantages 

Despite Costa Coffee’s growth in recent years and its reputation for producing quality coffee products, it has some disadvantages compared to the more established McDonald’s brand.

Objective Standards/Maintenance 

Although Costa Coffee has been praised for its comfortable stores, professional staff, cleanliness, and the quality of its products, the same cannot be said nor guaranteed through the use of Costa Coffee Express machines that are stocked and maintained by third parties.

Consequently, while McDonald’s has strict global standards that all its stores and products must adhere to, Costa Coffee lacks this level of quality control over its brand and products. 

McDonald’s Disadvantages 

Although McDonald’s is the biggest fast-food franchise globally, it has its shortcomings compared to Costa Coffee.  

Rewards Programs 

While some McDonald’s branches do have generous rewards programs, they vary depending on the state or country the McDonald’s is housed in and generally do not have the level of accessibility or generosity that other coffee houses such as Costa Coffee have.

Drinks Varieties 

Although McDonald’s has an extensive lineup of coffee products, most of these products are base products one would expect to find at a coffee store or is some variation of established coffee products.

In comparison, Costa Coffees have some of the most diverse and unique coffee products on the market, including but not limited to: 

  • Hot Cross Bun Lattes and Cappuccinos
  • Caramel and Mocha Cortados
  • Costa+ drinks, which infuses B12, Zinc, and protein in their products
  • Dessert Frostinos
  • Tea Infusions. 


In conclusion, while it may appear at face value that McDonald’s and Costa Coffee offer the same service and products, their different business models mean that there is plenty for fans of either to enjoy from the other!