Cosmc’s vs Starbucks: Which Is Better Value (And Better Tasting)?

Can the newcomer Cosmc’s really outshine the iconic Starbucks in taste and value?

cosmcs small-format restaurant
Updated July 18, 2024
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Meet McDonald’s spinoff brand CosMc’s. The galactic-themed chain is meant to appeal to the late-afternoon crowd that needs an energy pick-me-up.

Like Starbucks, it features snacks and a large line-up of hot, cold, and blended caffeinated beverages, including smoothies and frappes. The prices are similar, with CosMc’s being a tad cheaper. But which one’s better?

Let’s take a look at how some of each chain’s drinks — selected at random — compare so you can avoid wasting money on a subpar afternoon pick-me-up.

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Starbucks Melon Burst Iced Energy

Courtesy of Starbucks melon burst iced energy

The bright-colored tea is served over ice and contains enough caffeine for a late afternoon jolt.

According to one food blogger, the drink isn’t sweet enough and tastes “sort of medicinal.”

CosMc Sour Cherry Energy Burst

Courtesy of CosMc sour cherry energy burst

This Signature Galactic Boost drink is a tart cherry blend over fruity boba.

According to one Dallas food reporter, this drink is for sour-candy lovers. The first sip was “an overwhelming blast of sourness” although the melon-flavor boba helps to counteract it.

Winner

Of the two berry energy drinks, CosMc is the winner. While neither drink is a total home run, we’re going with one that doesn’t taste like cough syrup.

Starbucks Summer-Berry Lemonade

Courtesy of Starbucks summer-berry lemonade

This eye-popping neon blue drink is lemonade mixed with raspberry, blueberry, and blackberry flavors.

It gets rave reviews on ‌Elite Daily. They call the drink " a gorgeous take on a summertime favorite.”

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CosMc Berry Hibiscus Sour-ade

Courtesy of CosMc berry hibiscus sour-ade

If you like gut health and bright fuschia drinks, this could be your new favorite. It’s a tart lemonade mixed with a sweet berry probiotic.

A food reporter from the Washington Post offers a mixed critique. The drink tastes nice, like ‌ strawberry lemonade from Auntie Anne’s Pretzels. However, the kombucha powder mixed in gives it an odd flavor.

Winner

In this summer-ade match, Starbucks is the clear winner.

Starbucks Matcha Crème Frappuccino

Courtesy of Starbucks matcha crème frappuccino

The smoothie drink is made with sweetened matcha tea, milk, ice, and whipped cream.

One YouTuber praises the drink as a “nice, light matcha with a good caramel essence.” She adds that she’s not a matcha fan but thinks it’s “pretty good” and matcha-lovers will enjoy it.

CosMc Beach Protein Frappe

Courtesy of CosMc beach protein frappe

The Beach Protein Frappe is a smoothie-style drink that blends bananas and protein powder.

The Dallas Observer offers backhanded praise. “The latte was solid enough that if you told us it from a local coffee shop, we may have believed it.”

Winner

It's a tie between these two sweet smoothie drinks. Your favorite will depend on how your taste buds feel about matcha.

Starbucks Coffee Frappuccino Blended

Courtesy of Starbucks coffee frappuccino blended

A Starbucks classic, this drink combines coffee, milk, and ice.

Casual coffee drinkers genuinely like it, and while coffee aficionados scoff, the drink has become an industry standard. It’s the yardstick by which all other coffee slushy drinks are measured.

CosMc Cold Brew Frappe

Courtesy of CosMc cold brew frappe

A coffeehouse standby, this frappe is a blend of cold coffee topped with whipped cream. CosMc’s version adds sprinkles, drizzles, sweet popping boba, or espresso shots.

Coffee drinkers at Mashed are not fans. “The Cold Brew Frappe is not sweet, rich in flavor, or smooth. It was incredibly bitter on the first sip, and by the fourth sip, it tasted more like water than coffee.”

Winner

Starbucks wins again. While serious coffee drinkers may find the frappuccino blend trite, diners call the CosMc brew undrinkable.

Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte

Courtesy of Starbucks pumpkin spice latte

The drink launched a gazillion-dollar pumpkin-spice-latte industry with decorative signs, home decor, t-shirts, and onesies. The drink is a latte with pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove flavors.

This perennial favorite signals the start of fall. While some scorn it for being too mainstream and basic, it’s a good sip. There’s a reason people love it.

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CosMc Iced Turmeric Spiced Latte

Courtesy of CosMc iced turmeric spiced latte

The iced turmeric has a strong, earthy flavor. It comes with an espresso shot, cold foam, whipped cream, boba, and black pepper sprinkles.

Washington Post’s food taster was not impressed. She noted that the latte had a “chemically off-putting taste.”

Winner

When comparing the stores’ two earth-flavored lattes side-by-side, Starbucks is the obvious winner.

Starbucks Salted Caramel Cold Brew

Courtesy of Starbucks salted caramel cold brew

This popular cold drink blends sweet and bitter. It’s a cold brew with a touch of caramel and a layer of cold foam.

One Starbucks loyalist gives the drink mixed reviews, noting the cold brew is “very smooth and subtly sweet,” but all the salt overpowers the caramel.

On Reddit forums, many say the drink is often inconsistently made, with the barista mixing up ingredients or even making the wrong flavor cold brew.

CosMc S’mores Cold Brew

Courtesy of CosMc smores cold brew

Another autumny offering, the S’mores Cold Brew boasts the sweet taste of s’mores topped with toffee sprinkles.

A Washington Post critic liked the drink. “This is the one drink [at CosMc’s] that I’d order again.” They note it has a little too much creamer, but the toasted marshmallow flavor comes through nicely.

Winner

The CosMc S’mores Cold Brew edges out Starbucks here. While not a super-close side-by-side comparison, it pits two sweet-flavored cold brews toe-to-toe, and the S’mores cold brew beats out the salty, inconsistently made version.

Bottom line

Joe Hendrickson/Adobe CosMc's small-format restaurant

Although Starbucks wins in this line-up, CosMc's has many drinks that taste pretty good. And the chain has a far more interesting aura. How many other intergalactic-themed, hamburger-chain-offshoot coffee shops exist in the world? Or the galaxy? 

If there’s a location near you, it’s worth blasting over. Plus, they’re fairly reasonably priced, so you can stretch your fast food budget and pick up a snack while you’re there.


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Stacy Garrels

Stacy enjoys writing about fintech, consumer deals, the side hustle economy, and random tomfoolery. She's personally tried more than 100 different gigs, including being an Uber driver for one afternoon.