It wouldn’t be a coffee house worth its beans if it didn’t have free WiFi.  But what chain provides the best WiFi with the zippiest bandwidth speed?  If you guessed Starbucks you’d be right in terms of fastest average effective throughput. But in terms of fastest download speed, the prize went to Dunkin Donuts. We’ll save the contest on who brews the strongest latte for another day.


In honor of International Coffee Day last month, a day that actually exists, the WiFi experts at wefi released a comprehensive study crunching data from more than 45 million hotspots.  The results were based on a 30 day average of Wi-Fi speeds at each location during the month of August, 2014.  In addition to Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts, Tullys and Panera also finished as WiFi leaders. Not surprisingly, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter drove the most data usage and Google Chrome was hands down the most popular application.   Here are a few more caffeinated factoids based on the wefi survey and further research from Time Warner Cable, the National Coffee Association and Broadcom:

  • Dunkin Donuts customers use twice as much WiFi as Starbucks customers
  • 80% of small businesses believe their customers expect free WiFi
  • 61% of Americans drink coffee every day
  • 34% drink gourmet coffee products on a daily basis
  • 39% of Americans would rather give up coffee over WiFi

wefi’s Results Compared to Some Hands On Results

In a completely unscientific study, this researcher circled a single block in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles, home to three major coffee chains and a local bagel shop. Using the mobile speed test on my smartphone that allowed me to email the results for later reference, I stopped at each location just once, mid-morning on a Tuesday.  Starbucks won the prize with an impressive download speed of 10mbps.  The Coffee Bean fell far behind with 2.31mbps and Peet’s didn’t even crack 1mbps. The local bagelry did not provide free WiFi but did offer free refills on coffee so that’s where where I ended up for breakfast.

Not all coffee shop WiFi is created equal.  So if bandwidth speed is more important than your iced blended mocha be sure to compare speeds on your mobile device before visiting your local barista.