Home » OPINION: America might run on Dunkin’, but Bloomington should run on local cafes

OPINION: America might run on Dunkin’, but Bloomington should run on local cafes

Since the new Dunkin’ opened, Bloomington has had an even larger variety of coffee to choose from. IU students and Bloomington residents have taken a liking to the new Dunkin’ and have kept the workers busy after it opened in December, 2020.

Bloomington residents’ coffee habits have no doubt changed once Dunkins’ new location began serving customers.

With so many people now going to Dunkin’, local coffee shops and other chains face new competition in Bloomington. After the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, local coffee shops such as Crumble Coffee & Bakery, Soma Coffee House and Hopscotch have almost certainly seen a dip in business and may have struggled to stay open.

Bloomington’s Pourhouse Cafe, which first opened in 2008, closed due to financial struggles stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic in October, 2020.  

You would think adding another big coffee chain to Bloomington would only make this worse, but an Inkwell Cafe employee said the move has not affected local cafes as much as some might think. 

“I would say that the Inkwell has not really seen a change in business since the new Dunkin’ opened up,” Inkwell employee Ashley Horner said. “I don’t think Dunkin’ has made a difference in local shops but rather is more competitive with Starbucks.”

Even with a new large coffee chain, Bloomington residents must remember that buying local is an important aspect of our city’s economy. You might even find your new favorite coffee drink or a new favorite study area. Buying from both chains and local cafes can create a good balance.

When bigger chains such as Dunkin’ or Starbucks are able to stay open later in the day than local coffee shops — which is another reason why they see more business — they can outsize locally owned businesses. Bloomington’s many local shops offer customers a unique and better experience, however.

Local Bloomington coffee shops are staying alive because many people love the environment the cafes offer. 

“I feel like a local coffee shop is more like an art than just fast coffee,” Horner said.

Local cafes and chain coffee shops differ in the sizes of their drinks, the complexity of their drinks and the atmosphere inside the store. For example, Soma features specialties such as the caramel and coconut “Lewinsky” drink and the “Peanut Butter Cup O’ Joe” with dark chocolate.

Horner said because corporations have more recognizable menus some people struggle to order coffee at the Inkwell because it’s drinks are more traditional than a large chain’s. But learning and experiencing new drinks is part of what local shops can offer their customers — unlike Dunkin’.

Not everyone has decided to switch to drinking Dunkin’, and many people are sticking with Starbucks or choosing to stay local. 

It’s no surprise Dunkin’ became so popular when it moved to Bloomington, but we must remember to not let this happen at local businesses’ expense. Despite many people still going to Starbucks and local coffee shops, Dunkin’ has definitely grabbed the attention and service of plenty of Bloomington residents.

When seeking your daily coffee, don’t forget to consider a local cafe such as Crumble or Hopscotch. Large chains are convenient and often good, but Bloomington’s own businesses can offer something more.

Olivia Franklin (she/her) is a sophomore studying journalism with a minor in political science. She is currently a member of the swim club at IU.