Who’s grinding out the best coffee on campus?

The showdown of the century: Starbucks [left] versus Butler Brew [right]. Photo 1 [right] by Katerina Anderson. Photo 2 [left] and graphic by Kaylee Johnson-Bradley.


It is a tale as old as time: Dugan Hall’s Butler Brew versus Starbucks at Atherton Union. With these two coffee shops on campus, both filled with yummy treats and morning cups of joe, which is brewing hot amongst students, and which is brewing cold?


Let us start off with the big one: Starbucks. As the only coffee chain on campus, students frequent the cafe often to pick up not only coffee, but also sweet treats and drinks. In an Instagram poll conducted by The Butler Collegian, the majority of votes were for Starbucks. With a staggering 75%, Starbucks beat out the home-base coffee shop, with Butler Brew only garnering 25% of the vote. 

 Results of the Starbucks vs. Butler Brew poll. Poll conducted on The Butler Collegian Instagram page on Feb. 26, 2023. Graphic by Isabella Ernsberger. 

Many students may acquire this love for Starbucks due to the “Starbucks experience.” Furnished with seating and a lively, yet studious atmosphere, Starbucks seems to bring in students not only with its drinks, but with its studious-girly-pop aura. 

Martha Clifford, a junior arts administration major, says Butler Brew is missing that atmosphere. 

“Starbucks has a better atmosphere just because [Butler Brew] doesn’t really have a space like Starbucks,” Clifford said. “And  [Dugan Hall] can be a bit intimidating.” 

With Starbucks being a coffee-chain, some students have made it a part of their daily norm, like Lenice Bailey, a junior mechanical engineering and astronomy double major. 

“Starbucks has become sort of the norm for me,” Bailey said. “I know what I like, so I primarily go there,” Bailey said. “I’ve been to Butler Brew maybe twice in all of my three years [at Butler].”

In addition, some students may prefer Starbucks due to their seasonal drinks.  

Clifford says that while she enjoys Starbucks specialty drinks, some other factors come into play as to why she sometimes strays to Butler Brew. 

“I prefer Starbucks specialty drinks, but the price makes it hard to buy from there too often,” Clifford said. “Starbucks coffee can just [taste] a bit burnt and have a bad aftertaste [compared to Butler Brew’s coffee].”

Students also find that the staff at Starbucks heighten the experience. 

“The staff working [at Starbucks] are wonderful people, and a lot of them remember my name because I go there way too much, and my flex dollars are crying because of it,” Bailey said. 

Brynn Baker, a sophomore biochemistry major, explains what Starbucks specialty drinks have to offer her. 

“I usually go to Starbucks if I want an Irish Cream Cold Brew or an Iced White Chocolate Mocha,” Baker said. “However, Butler Brew has a far superior iced vanilla latte and iced mocha.”

Butler Brew

Though she enjoys Starbucks coffee, Baker prefers Butler Brew overall. 

“I prefer Butler Brew,” Baker said. “If I can have a ham and cheese croissant and an iced vanilla latte from there in the morning, I know it will be a good day. Starbucks food is passable, but it doesn’t make my mouth water in the same way that Butler Brew’s croissants do.”

Alyssa Klusek, a junior youth and community development major, agreed and preferred the affordability of Butler Brew.

“I prefer Butler Brew as I feel they have more food options, and it is a bit cheaper than Starbucks,” Klusek said. “I would definitely recommend [Butler Brew’s] bagel sandwiches.”

According to the Butler Dining website, Butler Brew’s tasty treats can be attributed to Illinois Food Emporium located in Indianapolis. Their coffee is provided by the local Julian Coffee Roasters

However, something that Butler Brew doesn’t offer is weekend service. Some customers have complained about the coffee shop’s hours. Starbucks, on the other hand, is open on weekends, offering students coffee seven days a week. 

Baker, though, does not mind the limited hours. 

“I think the fact that Butler Brew does have limited hours increases its appeal to me, especially because I can always get Starbucks, but Butler Brew is a treat,” Baker said. 

Baker went on to praise the Butler Brew staff. 

“The ladies who work there are incredibly sweet and always make my morning!” Baker said.

The winner? 

So the consensus is in: the best coffee on campus is based on what one is looking for. 

Though Klusek is an avid Butler Brew supporter, she still sees the appeal in Starbucks. 

“If you’re looking for a variety of different drinks, then I recommend Starbucks,” Klusek said. “It just depends on what you’re looking to get.” 

Whether one is a Starbucks enjoyer or a Butler Brew devotee, one thing is for sure: these are the places on campus to be for a coffee pick-me-up during midterms.


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