Is Bad Ass Coffee better than Starbucks?


The Starbucks in the Gatton Student Center on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021, in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Sydney Spillman

Bad Ass Coffee, a new coffee shop located on Lexington’s S. Limestone, has drawn some customers away from the number one coffee shop in America, Starbucks.

Starbucks has been the most popular coffee shop in America since 2008, with the franchise now boasting 32,938 stores worldwide. Two of these locations are on UK’s campus, in the UK Bookstore and William T. Young Library.

Robert Carroll, manager of the UK Bookstore location, said the store opened in 2019. He was not the original manager but said he knows a lot about Starbucks and what the store has to offer. Carroll said he knew it would do great on a campus like UK.

Starbucks originated in Seattle, and when it first opened in 1971, it was nothing like it is now. There were no espresso bars that served food and beverages. Instead, the store sold coffee beans, tea and spices, while also providing a selection of coffee makers, grinders and teapots. 

Although Starbucks has grown since then, it is still both a business and a place for social gatherings. People go in for meetings, outings with friends and Zoom classes, all while enjoying their cup of coffee or blended drink.

Starbucks is known for having somewhat pricey drinks. Their coffee and lattes start at $3.75, and their seasonal drinks are even more. However, that does not stop their customers from flooding in. 

Andrew Blakeman, a UK business major, said he prefers Starbucks because its menu changes regularly. 

“I will never switch up,” Blakeman said. “Starbucks always has something new to try, and I enjoy the different drinks around the holidays.”

Bad Ass Coffee originated in Hawaii and has expanded to 24 other states. It is known for its Hawaiian-themed coffee shops, blended drinks, teas, food and special coffee ice cubes. 

In 2019, Royal Aloha Coffee purchased the rights to Bad Ass Coffee. This resulted in a rebrand, with new packaging, logo, store design and products. They added surfboards and pictures of the ocean along the walls of their stores and began selling beach accessories like SunBum sunscreen, Hawaiian leis and lip balm.

Currently, Bad Ass offers a variety of flavored coffees, such as Kona Peaberry, Kona French Roast, Volcanic Roast, Coconut Rum, Karamel Kreme and Vanilla Bourbon. Bad Ass Coffee’s website says that they have a goal of sharing American-grown, premium Hawaiian coffee from Kauai, Oahu, Kona and other cities. 

BCTC student Hadley Turner said Bad Ass Coffee is now their new favorite because of the food choices they have to offer, even after years spent going to Starbucks.

 “Their breakfast sandwiches don’t even compare to Starbucks’,” Turner said. “They are fresh and don’t taste like they are straight out of the microwave.”

Bad Ass Coffee offers fresh egg sandwiches with a choice of meat, such as bacon or sausage.

Ava Gdovka, a freshman animal biology major, said she also prefers Bad Ass. 

“Starbucks always takes forever, and I sometimes get overwhelmed with all of the options,” she said.

Although many students prefer Bad Ass Coffee, there are still some loyal customers to the Seattle coffee giant. 

Carrington Valentine, a sophomore journalism major and UK football player, said, “I like Bad Ass Coffee, but Starbucks never fails to come up with a new and tasty drink, which is why they are my favorite.”