Dunkin' Coffee Cup

With more than 11,800 Dunkin’ restaurants around the world in 36 countries, it can be hard to keep up with what’s happening at Dunkin’. If you’re among the upwards of 3 million people who visit Dunkin’ every day, you probably have your order memorized and know which of the 50+ varieties of donuts are your favorite. But do you know what employees may think of you when you enter the restaurant — or pull up at the drive-thru? There’s a lot of information you may not know about ordering at Dunkin’ but don’t worry, we’re here to help — with the advice of what to do (and what not to do) from Dunkin’ employees.

From knowing the difference between flavor swirls and flavor shots and recognizing regulars to having specialized Munchkins cutters and the non-dairy choices offered for beverages, there are many things Dunkin’ employees wish you knew. Read on to see what you need to know from an employee perspective before your next Dunkin’ order.

Dunkin’ employees recognize regulars

Dunkin' employee greets customers

Walking up to the cashier to place your donut and coffee order, you may feel like you’re an anonymous person, just another customer at Dunkin’. However, if you’re a frequent Dunkin’ coffee drinker, you may be surprised to know that Dunkin’ employees recognize regulars, especially if you have a unique order. A twenty-something employee told Cosmopolitan that they can recognize multiple people during working hours. "In a normal shift, I’ll recognize, like, eight to 10 people whose orders I have memorized," she said. That’s a lot of memorized orders from people during a shift!

Also, if a Dunkin’ employee asks how you’re doing or how your day is going, it’s common courtesy to reply. In a tweet sent to @DunkinProbs, @instagrandma72 said they would definitely hate you if you don’t even bother to reply (via BuzzFeed). Then again, there are many, many things fast food employees hate about customers.

Dunkin’s sourdough bread actually uses a sourdough starter

Dunkin' Box

Sourdough may not sound unusual or unique especially in a bread or donut context, but a "true" sourdough starter is actually a big deal. Research and Development Manager Josh Gomes, a Certified Master Baker by the Retail Bakers of America, spent his time developing new recipes in the Dunkin’ Culinary Lab. One of those creations? Dunkin’s Sourdough Bread, which uses a "true" sourdough starter. "Dunkin’s Sourdough Bread is one of the only mass-produced sourdoughs that uses a ‘true" sourdough starter,’ Gomes said (via Dunkin’). "Many other companies that make sourdough bread on a large-scale use either a powdered substance as a base or use sourdough flavoring to flavor their bread. We used the sourdough starter I created as inspiration for the sourdough starter in Dunkin’s Sourdough Bread."

Many people make mistakes with sourdough, and it’s okay if you’re not familiar with sourdough starters. "Sourdough starters are a mixture of flour and water that naturally collect yeast and bacteria, which raises and flavors the bread," Gomes explained. "To keep it ‘alive’ you need to feed it flour, water, and left-over starter. Traditionally, you are supposed to name your sourdough starter–I named mine ‘Baby Bird’ because it truly needed to be fed like a baby bird." If you’re looking to make your own sourdough starter, Gomes said to be patient, and make sure you name it.

There are specialized cutters for shaping Munchkins Donut Hole Treats

Dunkin' Munchkins

If you’re a fan of Dunkin’, you’ve probably heard of Dunkin’s Munchkins Donut Hole Treats. Manager of Donut Excellence at Dunkin’ (yes, that’s a real job), Rick Golden says in the Dunkin’ Newsroom that Munchkins first appeared on Dunkin’ menus in the early 1970s. "They were created as a way to make use of the excess dough cut out of the centers of our donuts and quickly became a fan favorite." And really, we agree — that dough can’t go to waste.

But what about these Munchkins achieving their unique shape in Dunkin’ today? "After their innovative start, we developed cutters specifically for our Munchkins Donut Hole Treats, now cut in an automated format," added Golden. If you’re a fan of eating Munchkins (and who isn’t?) you’ve probably wondered how many Munchkins equal one donut. Golden has an answer to that as well.

"Based on raw weight, approximately 5 cake Munchkins Donut Hole Treats equate to one cake donut, and a little under 5 yeast Munchkins Donut Hole Treats equate to one yeast donut." If you’re a fan of these Munchkins, you’ll quickly realize you’re not alone. Dunkin’ sells about 1 billion of these little Munchkin’s annually! (via Dunkin’) That’s a lot of excess dough. If you keep an eye out, you may even see Munchkins in some milkshakes as well!

At Dunkin’, there’s a big difference between flavor swirls and flavor shots

making Dunkin' Beverages

Even if you’re a Dunkin’ expert, we won’t fault you for sometimes getting mixed up in your order with flavor swirls and flavor shots. According to Dunkin’, "Our flavor shots are unsweetened and sugar-free, while our flavor swirls are sweet, creamy and indulgent. Both flavor shots and flavor swirls are free from artificial sweeteners and artificial dyes."

If you’re conscious about calories, Dunkin’ says that "for medium-sized beverages, flavor shots add 5-10 calories, while flavor swirls add 150-160 calories." Flavor shots, also according to Dunkin’, are non-dairy, whereas on the opposite side, flavor swirls — the exception is Dunkin’s mocha flavor swirl — contain dairy (via Dunkin’). To add a bit more clarification to flavor swirls, the majority of Dunkin’s seasonal flavors are flavor swirls, including the holiday favorite Peppermint Mocha.

However, there are still some major differences in terms of flavor, according to the Dunkin’ website. "There are some different flavor options between flavor shots and flavor swirls. Our classic flavor shot options include vanilla, hazelnut, toasted almond, blueberry, raspberry and coconut, while our classic flavor swirl varieties include caramel, French vanilla, hazelnut and Mocha."

Leftovers are, for the most part, either brought home or thrown away

Dunkin' Donuts display

If you think working at Dunkin’ involves unlimited coffee and donuts, you may need to rethink that idea. A Dunkin’ employee told Cosmopolitan, "People take home what they want, but everything is pretty dried out by then. At the end of the night, when we close up, we normally throw everything away." Throwing away so many donuts? A tragedy!

And there’s a shocking amount they throw away. According to Newsweek, in a viral TikTok by user Kathleen Dias with more than one million views, about 30 trays of donuts and Munchkins are thrown away into a bin. Customers have tried to get around this though. If you think you’re beating the system by entering Dunkin’ and asking for free donuts right before closing, you may need to rethink that strategy. According to Spoon University, you’ll still need to pay for those donuts because you’ll be entering and ordering during working hours while the store is open.

Dunkin’ offers non-dairy choices, including coconut milk

Customer pouring creamer into coffee

If you’re into drinking milk that isn’t from cows in your coffee, then you’re in luck at Dunkin’. From the launch of almond milk in 2014 to including oat milk in 2020, now there’s a third musketeer: coconut milk. Associate Research & Development Technologist Olivia Vaughn told Dunkin’, "Beyond providing our guests with a variety of non-dairy choices to meet their lifestyle needs, all our non-dairy options offer distinct qualities and flavor profiles, each opening a new door for beverage innovation." And there sure are varieties. From the Dunkin’ Coconut Refreshers to the Coconut milk Iced Latte, there’s a lot that would appeal to non-dairy drinkers at Dunkin’.

This new addition to the non-dairy line-up took a while to come to fruition. "Months of evaluation went into making sure we selected the best coconut milk, ensuring the drinking experience was as close to dairy as possible for our guests," Associate Research & Development Technologist Kassi Lugo said.

If you’re getting a bit tired of your regular coffee order and want to spice up your drink, you don’t need to look any further. "Lattes are one of our favorite ways to spotlight coconut milk because they’re inherently crafted with a large amount of milk, which allows you to really get the full tropical, nutty flavor and creamy textural experience," Brand Marketing Manager Paige Gregory told Dunkin’. Which flavor would you like to try first?

Dunkin’ employees might judge you on your extravagant orders

Dunkin' employee preparing orders

It’s okay to order your coffee and donuts your way. But there’s a difference between having an interesting order versus ordering half the menu in your drink. The Dunkin’ employee told Cosmopolitan, "One guy gets an extra-large coffee, half cream, half coffee, one sugar. Another one — this lady comes in, multiple times a day, mind you — she gets a medium iced coffee with half a pump of mocha, 10 pumps of pumpkin, extra, extra cream, and then there ends up being only a dash of coffee in it. It’s gross what people get."

That being said, there are a few items on Dunkin’s secret menu which sound crazy that you have to try. Who would have thought that berries belong with iced coffee? Hey, it actually works. Some items on the secret menu that caught our eye include the Coco berry iced latte, chocolate-covered raspberry hot chocolate, and the English toffee hot chocolate.

Dunkin’ employees can’t wear acrylic nails to work

There are a lot of weird rules that Dunkin Donuts workers have to follow, and one of them is not being allowed to wear acrylic nails to work. You might think this is just a weird aesthetic rule that employees need to follow, but the real reason is actually for your safety.

According to the 2017 FDA Food Code, "Unless wearing intact gloves in good repair, a food employee may not wear fingernail polish or artificial fingernails when working with exposed food." The condition of your nails matters, too. The 2017 FDA Food Code also mentions that "food employees shall keep their fingernails trimmed, filed, and maintained so the edges and surfaces are cleanable and not rough." We’re not sure if anyone has ever inspected employees’ nails and ensured that the edges are "cleanable," but it’s good that the measure is in place. If you’ve ever wondered why there aren’t fun acrylics on the fingernails of Dunkin’ employees, now you know your answer.

In case you’re wondering why such a seemingly arbitrary rule is in place, the FDA Food Code is a way to keep public health in mind and make sure food is showcased in a truthful way. According to the FDA, "[The FDA Food Code] represents FDA’s best advice for a uniform system of provisions that address the safety and protection of food offered at retail and in food service." So there you go.

Dunkin’ employees aren’t hiding more donuts in the back

Dunkin' crowds

Let’s be real: no one likes rude people. And if you’re a customer about to order donuts and coffee at Dunkin’, being rude doesn’t make anyone’s day better. Do your local Dunkin employee a favor and don’t ask them if there are extra donuts in the back. According to Spoon University, stores run out of donuts pretty often as most stores no longer make their own. Rather than asking for employees to go looking for doughnuts in the back that aren’t there, show a little patience and check back later after a truck has dropped off a fresh order. Patience is a virtue, after all.

Here’s another pro tip: When you order Munchkins, do the employee a favor by asking in orders of five. According to Spoon University, orders of Munchkins in 7, 3, 9, etcetera annoys employees. Dunkin’ counts its popular Munchkins in 25 or 50 counts. And while customers are invited to mix flavors, it gets a bit confusing for employees when a customer wants a different number of every flavor. Make the job of the employee easier by ordering Munchkin flavors in fives or 10s.

Mistakes happen. Try to have sympathy for the Dunkin’ employee at the register

Dunkin' employee at register

We get it; it’s annoying when an order is wrong. But if a mistake is taken at the cash register, have a bit of sympathy toward the employees working at the register. They’re people too, you know. "The only time people really mess up that much is with the register," a Dunkin’ employee told Cosmopolitan. "They won’t type things in right, so whatever comes up on the register, the sandwich maker will make that. And they’ll give the person the sandwich that’s on the receipt, but the person really wanted something else. So the customer will flip out on the sandwich maker, which causes a whole problem because the sandwich maker gets mad at the front counter person for not typing it in right." When all else fails, treat others with kindness. You have no idea what kind of day they’re having, too.

Dunkin’ employees are supposed to pay for food using employee discount

Dunkin' employee holding donut

It might come as a shock, but yes, even Dunkin’ employees are supposed to pay for food using their employee discount. When working a regular shift, the employee via Cosmopolitan said, "I think technically coffee is free, so we do that. And we’re technically supposed to pay — we get an employee discount though — on sandwiches and bagels, I think, but we pretty much just eat them."

However, employees are supposed to pay for the food they take. "Once in a while they’ll crack down on it and put a sign in the back saying, ‘You can use your employee discount,’ and then list everything you can get using your discount. No one really pays for anything. We’re supposed to, but no one’s really on top of us about it," said the employee. But that doesn’t stop employees from sneaking a Munchkin or two throughout the day because they’re small and easy to take from the donut case. "They’re just easy to pop in your mouth," the employee said, "so that’s what everyone does."

The mornings are some of the busiest times to order coffee at Dunkin’

Dunkin' donuts box

We understand people need their morning cup of coffee. But if you’re craving an iced coffee and a donut from Dunkin’, you’ve probably waited in some long lines during the morning rush hour. According to former Dunkin’ employee Courtney Henderson-Adams, the mornings were very busy. "The mornings were stressful. You have a very small amount of time to get each order out and there’s usually a line out to the road," Henderson-Adams said to Mashed. However, during this time of the pandemic when many people in the U.S. are working remotely at home and aren’t using the morning to commute to the office, people are ordering coffee later on in the day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., according to Dunkin’s CFO Katherine Jaspon (via Business Insider). The afternoon is a great time to drink coffee for people who need a pick-me-up. At a conference hosted by JPMorgan, Jaspon said, "People are coming out a little later, maybe they need a break from their Zoom." Does this sound familiar? For us, We’ll drink coffee at any time of the day.