Coffee chains are popular in the era of drive-thrus and fast food. While enjoying the low-key vibe and ambiance of a locally owned coffee shop is exhilarating, it is so easy and convenient to get your morning joe on the road.
In a 2021 study, 48 percent of the respondents stated the coffee they drank the day before was from a drive-thru chain.
Chain coffee shops serve a world that is always on the go. Some have even popped up in other commercial retail spaces like the Starbucks and Target collaborations, which started in 2003.
We have ranked the best coffee chains in the list below. Check it out for a bit of background on each one and a couple of menu items you may want to try!
A household name to many, Starbucks opened in Seattle’s Pike Place Market in 1971. By 1987, the brand was a full-blown coffeehouse rather than a small coffee maker in the marketplace. By the 1990s, Starbucks locations were popping up all around the US and internationally.
Starbucks maintains it is committed to sourcing quality coffee that coffee-drinkers can enjoy in-store or at home. They sell their popular coffee roasts in grocery stores and Starbucks stores for customers to use in their home brewing. The massive coffee chain made upwards of $2.8 Billion in 2021.
They have found longstanding success because they are committed to running a prestigious brand. Their inventive menu items keep customers coming back. These are the reasons they are one of the top coffee chain brands in history. Take a look at some of their most popular drinks here!
Similar to Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, which is now called Dunkin’, is a household name. Dunkin’ was founded in 1950 in Quincy, Massachusetts. This coffee chain offers the classic combination of coffee and donuts to its customers.
Dunkin’ operates as a franchise where members of the local community can open a franchise as they choose. This coffee chain has about 12,000 locations in 42 countries. Pivoting from a donut store to a drink store, Dunkin’ focuses more on the creativity of its coffee drinks while still selling donuts as a side option to its customers.
Below is a list of the most purchased items at Dunkin’.
- Strawberry Dragonfruit Dunkin’ Refresher
- Stuffed Bagel Minis
- Egg & Cheese Wake Up Wrap
- Glazed Donut
- Iced Coffee
Check out Dunkin’s most popular iced coffees with our list!
Caribou Coffee started in 1992 in Edina, Minnesota. After 29 years in the business, they have 459 locations in the USA. Though this coffee chain is known for its coffee, they also sell breakfast items, bakery items, teas, and smoothies.
Their most popular menu items vary from smoothies to coffee drinks, to breakfast foods. Our list below features the top menu items from Caribou Coffee.
- Strawberry Banana Smoothie
- Chai Tea Latte
- Cookies & Cream Coffeeless Cooler
- Crafted Press
- Northern Lite Latte
- Sparkling Green Tea Lemonade
- Caramel High Rise
- Iced Crafted Press
- Mint Condition Mocha
Dunn Bros Coffee
Founded in 1987 in St. Paul, Minnesota, Dunn Brothers Coffee has expanded to 62 locations throughout the country. Most Dunn Bros locations are independently owned by members of their respective communities.
They roast small-batch coffee in-house daily and partner with certifiers of sustainably grown coffee through the Rainforest Alliance and Fair Trade USA. This is a coffee chain with a mission to promote inclusivity, sustainability, and great-tasting coffee.
Take a look at some of their most popular menu selections from coffee to lunch items.
- Caramelized Almond Latte
- Mint Mocha
- Infinite Black Cold Press
- Chai Latte
- Mango Smoothie
- Cinnamon Roll Nirvana
- Build Your Own Egg Sandwich
- Bacon Grilled Cheese Sandwich
- Margherita Pizza
- Almond Chicken Salad
Tully’s Coffee opened in Kent, Washington in 1992. Born out of a need to rival the quickly growing Starbucks Coffee, Tully’s Coffee opened its first store in 1992 and by 2012 had 17 company-owned stores. In 2012, the company filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.
Since their fall as a storefront, Tully’s Coffee turned to widespread coffee production. In the present day, Keurig owns Tully’s Coffee. While the storefront no longer exists, you can still buy the rich coffee the brand was known for through Keurig products.
Before their fall, Tully’s Coffee expanded into international markets like Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Sweden, and China. This was an impressive feat for a coffee chain at the time since most others like it were just getting their roots in the US.
Gloria Jeans Coffee
Founded in 1979 in Long Grove, Illinois, Gloria Jean’s Coffee is known for its high-sugar coffee drinks. If you want something sweet and will wake you up, these products are for you!
Gloria Jean’s Coffee operates as a franchise system. This brand is unique because it is equally popular in the US and Australia. There are 600 locations worldwide with 460 of those located in Australia.
What began as a small-town coffee and gift shop, has turned into one of the larger brands outside of the US. They source their coffee beans and are committed to only using the best. Take a look at some of their most popular menu items below.
- White Chocolate Caramel Cookie Chiller
- Madagascar Vanilla Latte
- Mocha Voltage Espresso Chiller
- Banana Fruit Smoothie
- Iced Cappuccino
McDonald’s has the fast-food market in its clutches. It is hard to deny that it is one of the most popular and most plentiful fast-food chains in the world. What’s next when you are leading the way in burgers and fries? Coffee.
McCafe is the coffee counterpart to the burgers and fries menu items. It was conceptualized and first launched in Melbourne, Australia.
McCafe locations generate more revenue than a general McDonald’s likely due to their appeal to coffee drinkers and their menu items like smoothies and frappes that appeal to non-coffee drinkers looking for a fun drink.
Here are some popular menu items:.
- Iced Coffee
- Caramel Frappe
- Strawberry Banana Smoothie
- Hot Chocolate
Unlike most coffee chains on our list, this chain got its start in America. Lavazza was founded in Torino, Italy back in 1895. Of course, they weren’t operating coffee drive-thrus in the late 1800s but Lavazza as a brand began back then.
Since its inception, it has grown to be one of the top manufacturers of coffee in the world. It is the seventh-ranked coffee roaster in the world and is owned by the fourth-generation family members of the founding family.
Its legacy has grown to produce whole bean coffee, ground coffee, Nespresso capsules, and a few coffee chains called Lavazza and Cafe di Roma that are found around the world.
Founded in Berkeley, California in 1966, Peet’s Coffee is credited with introducing the United States to darker roasted coffee like French Roast. It also introduced coffee dark roasted enough to be used as espresso.
Peet’s has about 200 retailer locations in 11 states and a location in China. You can also find Peet’s Coffee in thousands of grocery stores and wholesalers across the United States.
It is one of the only coffee chains to have a slow bar. The slow bar includes pour-over, french press, and siphon brewed coffee.
Check out some of their menu items:
- Churro Latte
- Cold Brew with Sweet Cinnamon Oat Foam
- Matcha Green Tea Latte
- Everything Plant-Based Sandwich
- Yuzu Citrus Black Tea Shaker
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
Founded in Southern California in 1963, The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf have committed to sourcing the best Arabica coffee and premium teas for its customers. It is one of the only coffee chains to be certified Kosher.
They also released their at-home coffee-making system called the CBTL single-serve system. It allows customers to make espresso, hot chocolate, coffee, and tea with Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf products at home.
Some of their most popular items include the following:
- Bali Blue Moon Coffee
- Ultimate Mocha
- Caramel Coconut Latte
- Cookies and Cream Ice Blended
- Mocha Cold Brew
This Canadian coffee chain was founded in Ontario in 1964. It has grown to be the largest chain in Canada and they have over 4,000 locations in 14 countries. Tim Horton’s operates as a franchise system, so local people can open a franchise if they choose.
Though they started as a coffee and donuts chain, they have expanded their menu to include artisan drinks and lunch items. This list features some of their most popular items:
- Iced Capp
- English Muffin Sandwich
- Biscuit Sandwich
- Iced Coffee
- French Vanilla Cappuccino
- Hot Chocolate
Costa Coffee is a British coffeehouse chain. Founded in London, England in 1971, and now has over 3,000 stores in 31 countries.
One unique thing about this brand is that they operate small coffee machines in hospitals, grocery stores, and gas stations called Costa Express. They have their blend of coffee that they serve made in their state-of-the-art roastery.
Here are some of their menu items:
- Toffee Spiced Latte
- Caramel Cortado
- Ruby Hot Chocolate
- Salted Caramel Frostino
- Red Summer Berries Cooler
- Wiltshire Ham and Cheddar Toastie
- Apple Crumble Flapjack
Other than their wide reach in terms of coffee chains, they are also committed to having a wide reach in terms of giving back. Costa has a foundation that is committed to improving educational systems in lower-income countries.
Coffee has been around for thousands of years and it is not going anywhere anytime soon. These coffee chains have harnessed the buzz of the coffee to produce a product that keeps customers coming back.
Many chains have loyalty programs with excellent rewards, so if you do find one you like you won’t be disappointed by the perks you get.
Out of all of the coffee brands, it is hard to choose just one to be loyal to. The good news is, you don’t have to! Try out some of the most popular menu items listed at each coffee chain.