Ask any coffee drinker, and it’s clear that brand loyalty runs high. Coffee brand preferences feel especially relevant around the holidays, when coffee shops deck the halls with seasonally-inspired beverages. 

Coffee chain preferences for holiday beverages are similar to what they were last year. Among the national brands studied, Starbucks is the most popular by far, with 51% of respondents voting it as their top pick. Dunkin’ comes in second and McDonald’s is in third.

Among the top three, men and women have become more divided this year on their preferred coffee chains for holiday beverages. Men are more likely to like Dunkin’ and McDonald’s, while women are more likely to prefer Starbucks.

Another shift in the last year has been in terms of age. Younger adults — those aged 18 to 24 — are enjoying Dunkin’ more than they were in 2019 while favoring McDonald’s at the same rate. The over 55 crowd used to prefer McDonald’s over any other age group, but that has changed quite a bit since last season.

Coffee chain holiday beverage drinkers have had varying responses to the pandemic. While those who prefer Dunkin’s drinks have both dined in and gotten takeout this year, Starbucks fans have dominated the takeout-only scene, and McDonald’s fans have preferred to dined in.

To take this one step further, when looking at delivery versus non-delivery users, those who do get food delivered are very likely to be Starbucks fans (81%), while those who do not get delivery have a higher tendency to be Dunkin’ or McDonald’s holiday patrons. 

Although Panera isn’t strictly a coffee chain, it does serve a similar coffee-drinking clientele. Panera fans are the most favorable towards Starbucks, while those who do not like Panera are more evenly split between the three top contenders. 

So what is the state of seasonal coffee this year? Starbucks takes the lead as the seasonal beverage provider of choice for the second year in a row. As the holidays approach and the holiday beverage season continues, coffee chains should bear in mind their customers’ preferences and meet them, with their seasonal drinks, exactly where they are.