Fast Food Coffees Ranked From Worst To Best

Almost everybody loves coffee. Whether you're sipping from a mug at a posh coffeehouse or downing a cup that you made yourself at the breakfast table, coffee is the answer when you need a little boost. 

Coffee is rich in antioxidants, lowers the risk of some diseases, and may even aid weight loss. But let's be honest, most of us drink coffee for the caffeine. As good as some coffee tastes, it's the caffeine that has us coming back for more. 

When you're craving a cup of java in the morning, sometimes a fast food joint is your best bet. Is it the best coffee in the world? Heck no. But, it's quick. It's usually hot. And it'll provide that kick of caffeine that you need to start your day. If you're lucky and you pick the right place, it'll taste really good, too. Here we take a look at fast food coffee, ranked from worst to first.

15. Burger King coffee

You know in movies when someone spits out their coffee because it tastes horrible (or because something surprising or funny happens)? That's what will happen to you when you taste Burger King coffee for the first time. It's disgusting, and not because there might be hair in it. 

In March 2019, Burger King announced they were upping their coffee game by launching their BK Café coffee subscription service through their app. For $5 a month, subscribers get one small cup of coffee each and every day. Seems like a great deal, if you live or work near Burger King and want to grab a cup of Joe every morning. But it's not. It's really not. Well, unless you seriously love weak, bland coffee with a decidedly burnt aftertaste. 

Burger King supposedly uses high-quality beans in their coffee, so something must go really wrong in the brewing process. Hard pass.

14. Taco Bell coffee

Taco Bell has coffee? Yes, unfortunately they do. While it doesn't have greasy, gastric-disrupting properties like a lot of what else that is on their menu, it's also not good. Taco Bell's coffee is really, really weak. In hot sauce lingo, it's extra, extra mild. 

Apparently, Taco Bell wants to avoid the bitter or burnt flavor at all costs and, to accomplish that, they make their coffee flavorless. Their standard coffee is basically hot, discolored water. Their iced coffee somehow has even less flavor. It's like they take their flavorless hot coffee and water it down more by pouring it over ice. Taco Bell claims that 60 percent of their coffee is Rainforest Alliance Certified. They don't say what the other 40 percent is made out of but we're guessing, judging by the taste, it's a whole lot of nothing. 

Honestly, if you're eating Taco Bell's inauthentic Mexican food, you might as well just add to those empty calories by ordering a sugary soda.

13. Subway coffee

Subway is apparently trying to catch the attention of coffee connoisseurs, but their attempt isn't too impressive. Subway Cafes are a branch of Subway restaurants that not only serve their famous sub sandwiches, they also have a wide variety of coffees available to order. From cappuccinos to lattes to iced coffees, the selection is impressive.

However, while the quantity may impress you, the quality won't. None of the coffee options are better than mediocre. With each sip, you will be able to tell that while Subway may have mastered the sub sandwich, they are complete amateurs when it comes to mastering coffee. Their sugary coffees are too sweet, their iced coffees are too watery, and their cappuccinos and lattes are sure to underwhelm.

Go ahead and order your sandwich with confidence. That said, if you find yourself in a Subway Cafe, don't waste your money. Instead, order your sub to go and your coffee somewhere else.

12. Jack in the Box coffee

Once upon a time, Jack in the Box actually had distinctive, good-tasting coffee. Back then, about ten years ago, they used genuine Kona coffee beans sourced from Hawaii. Unfortunately, Jack's bean counters evidently decided that unique choice was too exotic and switched to Arabica beans, which is the go-to choice for generic drive-thru coffee these days. While Jack in the Box has decent coffee, there's nothing special about it any longer and there's no reason to go out of your way to acquire it. If you're already there getting a pair of tacos or a Sourdough Jack and have a hankering for coffee, go ahead and get it. You won't be overwhelmed or underwhelmed — just adequately whelmed. 

Of their three iced coffee flavors, go with the original. The caramel and mocha iced coffees are way too syrupy, to the point that you can hardly tell you're still drinking something that has coffee as a base.

11. Tim Hortons coffee

While it used to almost be a criminal offense to talk poorly about Timmies up in Canada, things have changed. Now, a significant number of Canadians agree that Tim Hortons is getting worse. What went wrong with the restaurant that used to be so beloved in the Great White North? Most speculate that the drop in quality started when they were bought by Burger King back in 2014.

Coffee at Tim Hortons is nothing to write home about. It's pricey, which adds to the disappointment. If you are stuck in Canada and Timmies is your only option, go with the dark roast coffee. It's not great but it's the best option. 

Tim Hortons has been serving coffee since 1964. Once upon a time, they might have had the best fast food coffee in the world. But those days are over. Blame Burger King, blame fierce competition, or blame our evolving taste buds — but be prepared for disappointment if you go to Tim Hortons for coffee.

10. Krispy Kreme coffee

When it comes to fast food coffee, Krispy Kreme is the try-hard of the bunch. Their coffee isn't particularly notable, but their effort is commendable. What they call their Rich Brewed Coffee is made with Central American, African, and Indonesian blends. Krispy Kreme has a more forgiving version called Smooth Brewed Coffee that is made with a blend from South America. They also offer lattes of various flavors, including hazelnut and caramel. 

Krispy Kreme's try-hard ways extend to the other end of the thermometer, as well. They have iced coffees and iced lattes with flavors such as mocha and vanilla. It doesn't stop there, as you can also order a frozen latte, which is basically their iced coffee taken for a spin in a blender. 

While the execution of each option is only a few shades above satisfactory, they earn bonus points for the wide variety. Oh, and if you're not completely satisfied with coffee you ordered, just wash it down with their hot and fresh doughnuts and you'll have no regrets. Well, other than the regrets you'll have from the untold calories you just inhaled in the form of the box of doughnuts that you had originally planned to take to the office, that is.

9. Sonic Drive-in coffee

Sonic is proud to offer Green Mountain Coffee Roasters coffee. Don't get confused by the name and think that's a boutique brand, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters is part of the gigantic beverage conglomerate that makes those Keurig coffee pods, along with Dr. Pepper, Snapple, and a whole host of drinks. That said, Sonic's coffee is perfectly pleasant, even if the taste doesn't stand out from the pack.

Where Sonic Drive-In really separates themselves is when they add ice to their coffee. For whatever reason, their ice just tastes better than other ice you get from fast food joints. Sonic's iced coffee is no different. Their two standard flavors, French vanilla and chocolate, are really tasty. Sonic sometimes offers various other flavors — from praline pecan to French vanilla caramel twist — and it's never a disappointment. Order their iced coffee with confidence. If nothing else, you know the ice half of the equation will be worth it.

8. Whataburger coffee

If you're looking for a fast food joint with consistently good coffee and a budget-friendly price tag, consider Whataburger. While this Texas-born burger restaurant doesn't promote their coffee much — or even give details about it online — you can rest assured that their coffee will taste exactly the same from location to location.

Whataburger doesn't offer flavored coffee, iced coffee, or anything else beyond the basics. You first decide whether you want regular coffee or decaffeinated coffee. Then, you select the size: a 12-ounce small, a 16-ounce medium, or a 20-ounce large. That's it. Soon, you'll have your hot cup of coffee in your hands and a consistent taste ready to hit your taste buds. If you are looking for fancy coffee, look elsewhere.

An extra bonus when it comes to Whataburger coffee is you get it in a heavy duty Styrofoam cup that isn't hot to the touch. If you'll be carrying your coffee for a long period of time, this detail comes in handy.

7. Carl's Jr. coffee

You'll be pleasantly surprised by the level of coffee you get from Carl's Jr. Their coffee is brewed fresh, and while it looks to be extra dark and doesn't smell like it will be anything special, it has a smooth taste and multiple discernible layers of flavor. In fact, there is enough flavor that you should think twice before adding any type of creamer or sugar. Carl's Jr. uses 100 percent Arabica beans that are from Guatemala and Peru.

The coffee options at Carl's Jr. don't stop there. This fast food restaurant offers a vanilla cold brew that will thrill those who love their coffee on the rocks. Carl's Jr. uses a light roast that is steeped to perfection. The vanilla flavoring is on the lighter side, which is a little bit disappointing because it tastes so good. If you don't like vanilla, you can also order this same drink but without the added vanilla.

6. Wendy's coffee

Wendy's keeps it simple when it comes to their coffee. They use 100 percent Arabica beans like most fast food joints. They don't currently offer iced coffee or any fancy flavors to tempt your taste buds. But despite the simplicity, Wendy's still manages to offer an impressive product. How? Their coffee is legitimately medium-roasted, which helps bring out the flavors of the Arabica beans and stops it from tasting watered down. It may smell a little bit more burnt than the competition, but the taste is rich.

But Wendy's doesn't stop there. Their coffee is cheaper than other fast food restaurants. They also seem to serve hotter coffee than the competition. And their cups are not only bigger, they have some sort of magic insulation that keeps their hot coffee hotter longer. It's all simple, really, but if you want a big cup of hot coffee that won't dent your bank account, Wendy's is a smart choice.

5. Dunkin' Donuts coffee

Don't let the name deceive you, Dunkin' Donuts isn't a donut shop that sells coffee — it's a coffee shop that sells donuts. (Maybe that's why they're rebranding to become Dunkin', just Dunkin'.) The company claims to sell 60 cups of coffee per second and employ taste testers who sip from 200 cups of coffee per day to ensure consistency from cup to cup. 

That vast experience and commitment to consistency is admirable but Dunkin' hasn't yet reached the next echelon of coffee greatness. Their coffee is good — sometimes really good — but it's not great. 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.

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.

4. Panera Bread coffee

When you're on the go and scanning through your mental library of coffee spots, Panera Bread probably doesn't pop into your head.  But it should. Panera doesn't have a ton of options, however the options they do have they execute exceedingly well. If you like your coffee hot, go with the spectacular hazelnut coffee. If you like it cold, their Iced Madagascar Vanilla Latte is special. Another cold option that is well worth your money is the vanilla almond version of their cold brew coffee.

While decaf coffee is usually disappointing and an afterthought for most restaurants, Panera has freshly brewed decaf that can compare with the best stuff you can find anywhere else. 

Earlier in the year, Panera Bread decided to focus more on their coffee. The early returns have been outstanding. They're now more than just a fast casual restaurant known for their freshly baked breads, sandwiches, soups, and tasty sweets.

3. McDonald's coffee

If you haven't tried McDonald's coffee in a while, you owe it to yourself to give it another chance. Their McCafe menu keeps improving and it's come to the point that we can't ignore how good it all tastes. Sure, McDonald's has had its rough patches when it comes to coffee over the years but they're definitely persistent and they've made it work. Don't be one of those annoying coffee snobs who will always scoff at their coffee just because it comes out of a McDonald's drive-thru window. 

The McCafe variety is formidable. You can find everything from an Americano to an Iced Caramel Macchiato. There are also cappuccinos, lattes, frappés, and more. While McDonald's has a variety of flavors, if you're looking for a recommendation, start with anything that has vanilla in it. For reasons unknown, McDonald's vanilla is more authentic and robust than anything you can find at any of their fast food competitors. We aren't saying McDonald's is better than Starbucks, but the gap is closing.

2. Chick-fil-A coffee

Coffee is surely part of the reason why Chick-fil-A is America's favorite fast food joint. Maybe their coffee tastes so good because they get their beans from Thrive Farmers, a company that allows South American farmers to sell directly to large corporations. Whatever the secret is, it's working for Chick-fil-A because their coffee literally couldn't get much better. 

Their regular coffee, which is made from 100 percent Colombian coffee beans, is great. But even better is Chick-fil-A's iced coffee. You can get it small or large, and either regular or vanilla. They blend together the perfect amount of pure cane sugar and fresh milk with the coffee, and the result is otherworldly. While the vanilla version is great, the regular is the cream of the crop. 

Next time you order a chicken sandwich, chicken nuggets, or a chicken biscuit from Chick-fil-A, don't forget the large iced coffee. Your taste buds will thank you.

1. Starbucks coffee

Sure, it can be annoying that there's a Starbucks on every corner. Plus, everyone, their mother, and their grandmother has enjoyed Starbucks coffee. There's nothing cool or edgy about this place anymore. That said, it's undeniable that Starbucks has the best coffee of any fast food restaurant, even if their food is largely forgettable.

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.

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.