By Published On: October 12, 2014

Welcome to the d.trio Battle of the Brands! In this recurring series we’ll be seeing how some of our favorite brands stack up against each other in a direct comparison. We’re all suckers for good brand marketing here at d.trio (duh – that’s what we do for a living) and we all have our loyalties. We’ll be testing those out with a series of blind taste tests and then assessing how our pre-existing brand perceptions influence our feelings about the results.

For the our first edition we’re sticking with our Pumpkin Spice theme for October and testing, well, you guessed it, the ever popular Pumpkin Spiced Latte. We tasted four of these fall favorites, three from the major coffee brands and the fourth from our own local coffee joint, Corner Coffee (514 N 3rd St, Minneapolis). Below are the first place votes and our best first reactions to our blind tasting of each:

Battle of the Brands: PSL edition
First place votes:1

First reaction: “Way too sweet.” (Except if you like that kind of thing.)

Particulars: Very bright orange color and lots of sugar. Probably the most pumpkin tasting, but a bit too much like a melted pumpkin milkshake.


Dunn Bros.
First place votes: 0

First reaction: “This tastes like a mistake.” (Immediately followed by “It might be a mistake, their coffee is great.”)

Particulars: Super bitter with a weird aftertaste. Definitely the least sweet but we’re pretty much convinced that the store made a mistake on ours because we’re sure that’s not what they wanted it to taste like.


Corner Coffee
First place votes: 2

First reaction: “Best coffee flavoring.” (This one was second place choice for all 9 of our tasters)

Particulars: Well balanced. Tasted of pumpkin and spice but left a nice coffee flavor in place.


First place votes: 6

First reaction: “Best balance of flavoring, this is the only one I could drink a whole cup of.” (Winner! Life is short. Pumpkin spice it.)

Particulars: The quote says it all.


So Caribou comes out as the winner of our blind tasting with Corner Coffee a very close second. Our after discussions centered around two topics: the first was how we really wished that our local shop had come out the winner and how close the battle had been. The second was that Caribou was the company we all feel has the most interesting and well done branding around their product. For a group of dedicated marketers it was gratifying that our favorite brand identity also backed it up with the best product.

What do you think of the pumpkin spiced trend or of any of these brands? Let us know in the comments. And stay tuned for our next Battle of the Brands, (there’s a rumor it might be burritos – yum!)

About the Author: cat-tonic

Born of curiosity and enthusiasm, we’re a scrappy group of smart, passionate marketers who work hard and play hard. We show up every day and fight for our clients who are making the world a better place. We listen with curiosity, explore deeply, ask hard questions, and sometimes put forth ideas that might make you squirm. Because we believe the status quo is good for growing mold but not much else. The way we see it, change is the way forward and the magic happens when curiosity, math, science, instinct, and talent intersect.
PSA about PSL
Are you nice?