Sweet Apple vs Dutch Monkey Doughnuts

Every Friday Roots in Alpharetta features an article on food and dining in a series called Foodie Friday.

It was bound to happen eventually. Cumming’s own Dutch Monkey Doughnuts has an enormous following. They’ve even attracted national attention.

Well now they have a competitor. Sweet Apple Donut & Coffee opened a few weeks ago on McGinnis Ferry Road. Are they a worthy adversary? We’ll let the doughnut duo square off face-to-face! This blogger has tried them both multiple times over the last few weeks. After this column I’m taking a fried dough hiatus!

Sweet Apple displays their product much like Dutch Monkey. They’ve got an L-shaped counter with doughnuts perched high on little pedestals. All that separates you from these treats is a sheet of glass to protect them from sneezes or perhaps little fingers.

Their menu differs a bit from Dutch Monkey with the addition of pigs in a blanket. They are small cheese-filled hot dogs wrapped in a baked yeast roll. Chances are you’ll get a freebie sample on your first visit.

Dutch Monkey differentiates itself with over-the-top creations. There is culinary talent here and it’s on display every morning. You’ll see unmatched attention to detail in products like the lemon meringue doughnut. Like everything here, the meringue is made from scratch. It’s very sweet yet with no gritty texture from the sugar. It’s sticky and delicately browned on top.

You’re not likely to find detail like this at Sweet Apple. But that’s not entirely bad. Their doughnut is more of a utility product. It’s got a higher yeast content that leads to a fluffy texture. On one busy Saturday morning I managed to score a plain doughnut shortly after it was plucked from the fryer. It was as close to a “hot now” as you’re gonna get without going to Krispy Kreme in the middle of the night. You’re not likely to experience this at Dutch Monkey.

Unfortunately most of the toppings at Sweet Apple are uninspiring. But their sour cream cake doughnuts have promise.  They are cooked a little longer yielding a crunchy texture on the outside. Their apple fritters can be the same way.

Dueling Strawberry Bars - Sweet Apple on left, Dutch Monkey on right

Strawberry bars are a big hit at Sweet Apple. These are like doughnut sandwiches with fresh strawberry slices and cream inside. Outside there is almost too much powdered sugar and chocolate. It distracts from the fruit.

I tried the same product at Dutch Monkey the next morning. Their strawberry bars feature bigger berries and are held together with more cream. They have a thin drizzle of dark chocolate which is about the right amount. The strawberries also appeared to be macerated which creates just a touch of sweet strawberry sauce. It complements the cream beautifully.

Yet while DMD will win any side-by-side comparison, they’re gonna get killed on price. That delicious strawberry bar will lighten your wallet by a staggering $3.75. That’s nearly two and a half times what Sweet Apple is currently charging. While Dutch Monkey’s basic doughnut only costs $1.25, their more popular doughnuts will set you back around three bucks. Sweet Apple’s current prices are considerably cheaper, ranging from $1.45 to $1.65. But you get what you pay for.

Both places have friendly staff. Sweet Apple hasn’t yet figured out social media. By contrast Dutch Monkey arguably has the best social media presence of any local business, food industry or otherwise. Their restaurant is also bigger. And the little windows into the kitchen continue to be popular with the kids.

So overall Dutch Monkey is likely to remain king of fried dough in this area. But there’s certainly room for Sweet Apple in this market, especially for your basic, run-of-the-mill doughnut.

Sweet Apple Donut & Coffee on Urbanspoon

Sweet Apple Donut & Coffee is located at 5430 McGinnis Ferry Road in the former Legend’s Deli location. Dutch Monkey Doughnuts is located at 3075 Ronald Reagan Parkway near the Avenue Forsyth.

12 Responses to “Sweet Apple vs Dutch Monkey Doughnuts”

  1. Lee February 1, 2013 at 7:48 am #

    I should say that this terrible picture doesn’t do either doughnut justice. The lighting was bad at DMD the day I was there.

    And after eating doughnuts for three consecutive mornings this week, I’m done!

  2. Sandy February 1, 2013 at 9:04 am #

    Thank you for your sacrifice, Lee!

  3. A February 1, 2013 at 9:31 am #

    Still wish we had a doughnut shop in the heart of Alpharetta/Milton, say along Highway 9 or Windward. They’d do fantastic business. I am not inclined to drive to Forsyth or even McGinnis Ferry to get a doughnut fix.

  4. Mike H February 1, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Lee,

    If you ever make your way up a little further north, there is also Donut Depot at 440 Canton Road – Suite B, Cumming, GA (Not too far above Cumming square on 20 behind the Slope’s BBQ).

    They have really good donuts at reasonable prices. I used to frequent them at least once a week, before my wife and I started to “diet” for our New Years resolution… Let’s just say that I regret that donuts weren’t exempted from the resolution every time I pass them!

  5. Michael February 1, 2013 at 2:18 pm #

    If I still lived in Alpharetta, I would still be going to DMD every week, even at $3 a doughnut :)

    Did you happen to evaluate the coffee, by any chance? I think one of DMD’s somewhat overlooked strengths is really great coffee. Coffee and doughnuts go hand-in-hand; DMD’s awesome coffee is a perfect compliment to their top-notch doughnuts.

  6. Mike February 1, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

    I’m now a frequent visitor to Sweet Apple although DMD I know as well. I give high marks to Sweet Apple for top quality donuts that are far superior than the typical Dunkin Donuts. My favorite at sweet apple is a chocolate twist and plain cake donuts. DMD is good too but some of the flavor combinations are more daring and less traditional than the classic donut flavors.

    I hope Sweet Apple can leverage their great location that should dominate the morning traffic crowd on McGinnis Ferry in the mornings. How about some big signs on the road highlighting the only place to get fresh, made from scratch donuts and quality coffee in the area. There is no Starbucks anywhere nearby so they should boldly promote that fact. Also, if they periodically put up a half price donut sign, I’m sure they’d be busier as its been fairly quiet the 5 times I’ve visited.

    Overall, I like Sweet Apple better and the prices are more reasonable.

  7. Brent H. February 3, 2013 at 10:43 am #

    On a completely unrelated note… heard any rumblings about the Bassano’s in John’s Creek closing? We’ve driven by a couple of times this weekend during business hours and they’ve been shuttered. Tried to get them on the phone about pizza for the Super Bowl and nobody has answered.

  8. Lee February 3, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

    @A – I agree, a good doughnut shop in Alpharetta would do well. Surprised no one is doing one.

    @Brent – Thanks for the tip. They have been closed for a few weeks. From what I’ve been told they sold the store to someone else who plans to reopen it. They will keep the same name. At least that’s what the Loganville store told me today.

  9. Travis Allen February 17, 2013 at 1:00 pm #

    We finally checked out Sweet Apple yesterday afternoon and we purchased over a dozen different donuts. I liked the yeast donuts the best, especially the maple, bacon, cheese bar. Everything else was enjoyable as well, but apparently I don’t like strawberries as much as I thought I did. I’m sure some find the strawberry bar and strawberry donuts great, but they aren’t my cup of tea.

    I tried the custard filled eclair, as that was all they had, so I’ll be back for a second round next weekend to try anything I might have missed.

  10. Rhyne Armstrong March 14, 2013 at 10:46 am #

    We must be in the minority, but my family and I prefer Sweet Apple over DMD. We out of the 6 in my household, 3 ‘liked’ DMD, 2 ‘loved’ DMD, and 1 ‘really diskiled’ DMD. At Sweet Apple, everyone is happy, and everyone has found their favorite already.

    The coffee at both places are equally good, in my opinion.

  11. Sharon Banks December 3, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

    Lee,

    I think you should re-evaluate Sweet Apple Donut. The shop just opened in late January, and you wrote the review Feb 1. I’ve been to the shop 2-3 times a month since January. My family no longer goes to Dutch Monkey Doughnuts. I agree with Rhyne. Everybody in my family of 5 is completely satisfied when visiting Sweet Apple Donut. I think Sweet Apple Donut’s customer service and coffee is better than Dutch Monkey Doughnuts.

  12. S Lee Guy December 3, 2013 at 3:18 pm #

    @Sharon, I also go to Sweet Apple on a regular basis, mainly because it is pretty close to where I live. DMD is out of the way for my commute.

    But I stand by my original review. Sweet Apple’s sour cream doughnut is my favorite. Nothing else on the menu really jumps out at me. They also use a commercial mix for their product, something DMD eschews. Everything at DMD is made from scratch, right down to the jellies. But you pay for that attention to detail.

    Try DiVinci’s in Alpharetta once they open. They’ll also use a commercial mix but will have a larger variety of toppings.

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