Everything I learned when I visited Dunkin' Donuts' headquarters
It’s International Coffee Day, the day we all pay homage to the heavenly concoction that makes our mornings survivable. And if we’re going to honor coffee, we may as well honor Dunkin’ Donuts, the OG provider of drive-thru coffee, a thing of beauty that made all of our lives that much more gleefully caffeinated.
As luck would have it, I had the opportunity to tour Dunkin’ Donuts headquarters, located just outside of Boston, Massachusetts, and I left knowing more about coffee and donuts than I ever thought I’d absorb. In short, it was mind-blowing. Here, I’ve arranged some of my revelations from the day in a handy list format, so that I seem calm and not like the crazy coffee-and-donut monster I feel I am in my heart.
1. Dunkin’ Donuts HQ is really filled with coffee and donuts
You’d expect that, sure. But know how your office has like, a few vending machines in the kitchen, and maybe every once and a while lunch is catered? DD HQ is not like that. You walk in and it’s just DONUTS. And COFFEE. All the donuts and coffee you could ever want to eat at work, plus ice cream — because Baskin-Robbins is part of the Dunkin’ Brands.
I was reassured many times that there’s also a gym in the building, because there is nothing wrong with eating a donut and then working out.
2. Their walls are decorated with giant pictures of the best food
White walls? Boring. How about giant pictures of donuts? Or ice cream? Or a latte! Or breakfast sandwiches!! If only these images were available as real wallpaper options.
3. Dunkin’ is constantly looking to the future
It’s no easy task thinking up a brand new donut, let alone a dozen. Most items go through anywhere from nine months to two years of prep time before they ever hit stores. During this time, the chefs will try out different combinations to make both their coffee and foods, meaning that there’s going to be a lot of taste testing going on.
Often, they’ll develop a few things at once and only launch two or three new products, saving the others for later. Which means that Dunkin’ has a ton of ideas stored up for a rainy day.
4. In the end, the taste ratios have to be perfect
Did you try out an Oreo iced coffee this past summer? If not, there’s still time, and you probably should. The chefs in the Dunkin’ kitchen spent months trying to nail the perfect ratio of cookie to Oreo filling to recreate the flavor for a coffee drink. Once they created a good ratio, they did internal taste testing on it, before moving into small-area testing. They rely on customer feedback to know if they’ve created a brand new coffee flavor, or if they’ve got to keep experimenting .
5. There’s a job title at Dunkin’ that’s every coffee lover’s dream
It’s one thing to be a chef. It’s another thing to be the person in charge of donut product innovation. How’d you like to have “coffee excellence manager” on your resume? Want a job where your sole purpose is to figure out the best consistency for an orange-mango smoothie? These are all things you can do working for Dunkin’ Donuts. You could also wind up as a cake decorator, thinking up amazing Baskin-Robbins ice cream cakes all day long.
6. One day, Dunkin’ wants to make it easier to get coffee
Do you have the Dunkin’ Donuts mobile app? Are you a member of their loyalty program, DD Perks? Get on both of those things right now. In the future, Dunkin’ wants to make curbside coffee delivery a THING. In places where there isn’t a drive thru, and you know exactly what you want ahead of time, they want to give customers options to order ahead of time. Then, all you’ve got to do is show up outside a Dunkin’ and your food will be brought right to you.
If this is the future, it sounds GREAT. Dunkin’ is still working out the kinks of this idea, so it’s not available yet. But when it is available, it’ll be exclusively for customers using the mobile app and DD Perks.
7. Coffee is all about cupping
How does Dunkin’ get its coffee perfect? Hours and hours of “cupping.” With groundup coffee beans, master coffee tasters will then pour boiling hot water over grinds in a small cup. Then, the coffee’s got to brew, before it can be first smelled, and then sipped. But it’s not just any sip you’re supposed to take, you’ve gotta slurp the coffee to get the full taste of it gurgled to the back of your tongue. Only then can it be determined if the coffee’s good enough to wind up in stores.
Coffee also comes from all over the world, each bean has a different taste. Master coffee experts spend hours trying out different brew combinations before any one of them can be poured into our cups.
8. Ready for more frozen drinks?
We’ve got iced coffee, coolattas, and smoothies. Now how about we add Dunkin’ Donuts shakes to that list? Just like a shake you’d find at your favorite old school diner, Dunkin’ is in the process of recreating that drink in three different flavors: vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. It’s a frozen blended beverage that does not include ice cream, even though it tastes like it does. Did we mention the shakes will have SPRINKLES mixed right in? Yeah, so there’s that.
9. Bacon is the future
If you’re a bacon lover, you want to eat bacon all the time, no matter what. Dunkin’ gets that. They’re going to start rolling out a few more bacon sandwiches in the coming months and — brace yourselves — a bacon maple donut. It’s going to start being tested in a few areas this Fall, and if all goes well, soon, you’ll be able to grab a BMD anywhere.
10. These are giant donut rolling pins
Because OF COURSE these are giant donut rolling pins! How did you think they cut all the donuts?? The rolling pins come in a variety of shapes and sizes, including hearts, stars, flowers, and ghosts for Halloween. On average, a Dunkin’ donut takes about three hours to make — and is best when eaten hot and fresh, of course.
11. Donuts are different around the world
Here in the U.S. of A, we stick to our vanilla and chocolate frosting. But that’s not what’s most popular in other countries. The strangest donut I saw at the Dunkin’ HQ, had vanilla and chocolate frosting on it… and Parmesan cheese. (It’s a hit in Indonesia.) I tried it, because I felt like it was my destiny, and I can report back that while it was a little odd at first, it wasn’t that bad!
12. And don’t forget about ice cream!
Maybe you’re lucky enough to have a combined Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins near you, so it’s one stop for both donuts and ice cream. Well, how about a Dunkin’ Donuts flavored ice cream with actual donut pieces mixed into it? It’s only something Baskin-Robins could dream up, and we’re so glad they did.
Also, major shout-out to the Banana Split ice cream, too. It’s amazing.
13. Bottom line: everything is delicious
And I know first hand that everything is delicious, because Dunkin’ let me try literally everything.
In the end, for someone who runs off of Dunkin’ coffee every single day of the week, getting the chance to visit their HQ was a wonderful experience. The people who work there love what they do. That’s awesome for us, because we love what they’re cooking up.
Bonus: This picture. . .
(Images via author, featured image via Dunkin’ Donuts)