Quick! Which is better: Camino or Starbucks?

Getting to the bottom of the unending Wake Forest debate


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Students order at Camino Bakery, located in ZSR Library.

Abby Komiske, Staff Writer

You may not care and could think that they are both equally good coffee shops that sell caffeinated drinks and baked goods. If this is true, we are not the same, so just stop reading now. But if you think I’m about to present a very valid and important argument for which is superior, stay put. 

First — to think about this logically — let’s start at the foundation. Although Camino and Starbucks are both coffee shops, they sell very different things. Camino bagels and other baked goods are arguably the stars of the show, while Starbucks is a tried and true option that gives you what you need whenever you need it. Since they provide different products, they invariably have different purposes. 

Personally, I go to Camino to purchase a cinnamon scone and green peace iced tea before I sit down and do schoolwork for hours. I don’t socialize with my scone and tea — I get to work and use an Old Gold to keep me going. I go to Starbucks typically when I’m exhausted or just submitted a big assignment. If I need to be revived, I buy a bacon gouda sandwich and a cold brew with oat milk and caramel. If I need to relieve stress, I get an iced chai latte and call it a day.

Now that you know my strategy, I think it’s fair to say that I prefer Starbucks. This is not necessarily because I think the quality of the ingredients or type of items are better – I actually like Camino more because it’s a smaller business with fresher products – but because Starbucks is a reward compared to Camino, which I save for the grind.

However, I will not stop there — I’m not the only one who has a preference. I don’t know many people who have identical Camino and Starbucks orders or anyone who goes to each for the same reason. Using my Statistics 111 skills, I interviewed some of my friends to verify what I believe is a universal truth for Wake Forest’s student population — that you have to pick one to be your reward and one to retain your sanity (possibly while doing work). Just keep in mind some people’s answers depend on where they live on campus, how much they like to do work at the library, and how much they need coffee.  

Alex Guernsey, sophomore, my first subject, buys a green peace iced tea and an everything croissant – she emphasized an obsession with the Camino croissants, take that as you will – and at Starbucks, an iced vanilla latte and chocolate croissant. 

“Camino has really good Old Gold options, which makes my tea and croissant an easy choice, but Starbucks is pretty limited so I just get my typical order at any coffee shop,” Guernsey said. In her mind, Camino is the true winner. 

Amy Taliaferro, junior, orders a “magical” latte and blueberry muffin from Camino but a cold brew and pumpkin scone from Starbucks. These are two very different orders, with no true winner. Her choices simply rest in the seasonal options of the coffee shops. Starbucks does take the fall season to its maximum, though, which is something to consider. 

Sophomore Alexandra Ensrud’s go-to at Camino is an iced coffee with oat milk and an everything swiss croissant but a mocha iced coffee with sweet cream and a bacon gouda sandwich at Starbucks. Starbucks’ sweet cream is unbeatable in her mind, as is the breakfast sandwich, while Camino is always good for a run-of-the-mill oat milk coffee, also tying other coffee shops in her mind. She does, however, live near Starbucks, which often makes it an easier option. 

My fourth subject, Emma Chang, doesn’t frequent Camino —or the library — but orders a passion tango iced tea – or a passion tango iced lemonade if she’s feeling risky – with the egg white feta wraps. 

“Camino’s  is a bit overrated and often too crowded to make the wait worth it, and Starbucks just offers things I like more,” Chang said while we discussed pros and cons. 

Her reasoning holds some common truth among students, as my other interviews also mentioned that the wait time, as well as Starbucks’ greater variety, affects which they are willing to go to. 

Sophomore Mckenzie Murphy’s Camino order is an iced coffee with whole milk and vanilla, as well as a fruit danish, but just a vanilla sweet cream cold brew with two shots of caramel at Starbucks. She didn’t have a real reason for why her orders differ, other than that the sweet cream at Starbucks elevates her coffee choice, while the bakery selection at Camino is always a safe bet as long as they don’t run out. 

While discussing each subject’s reasoning, I found some other common denominators. The blueberry muffin at Camino is far superior to Starbucks, but the tea is better at Starbucks. Further, an egg-based breakfast sandwich from Starbucks hits the spot where a bagel often doesn’t, especially if Camino is out of cream cheese. 

“The bacon gouda sandwich at Starbucks can single handedly save the rest of my day,” Ensrud said, and I certainly agree. Lastly, Camino is better to grab if you’re in the middle of working in the library for hours on end, but Starbucks is better for taking to go — especially on the weekends when you have more time. 

Everyone can have their opinion on the best coffee spot on campus. You may even prefer the Pit’s coffee – just kidding. But it is at least fair to say that you have to pick one way or another at some point, unless you can drive to Dunkin’, which is another story entirely.