Posted by: nickgerlich | October 3, 2007

McBucks

The world loves its coffee. “Out” are the beatnik coffee shops of the 1950s, and “in” is Starbucks the “third place” that many people flock to after home or work fails to satisfy their cravings. And with over 13,000 stores worldwide, it is a pretty safe bet that the world’s travel mugs are filled with their dark brew.

Or are they?

McDonald's CoffeeWhen McDonald’s announced they were entering the premium coffee business last year, no one paid them much attention. After all, how could a company known more for Happy Meals and greasy food make decent coffee? And what Starbucks devotee would dare be seen swigging from a styro cup with the Golden Arches proudly emblazoned?

Apparently we were all wrong, for Ronald McDonald is now planning to introduce a line of specialty coffee drinks by the end of 2008. They anticipate additional sales of $1 b-as-in-billion. We will now be able to get a latte or a cappuccino with those fries and burgers.

While this may seem like a collision course of sensibilities, think again. It won’t be like what I’ve experienced at the Amarillo Civic Center when a hockey game and the symphony ended at the same time, with furs and hockey jerseys rubbing shoulders. You know what they say about hockey: “I went to a fight, and a hockey game broke out.” Since we don’t own any furs or tuxes, we don’t attend the symphony.

But I digress. My point is, coffee snobs will continue to patronize their beloved SBUX, safe from the proletarian Mickey D’s and its denizens.

And the folks who either can’t or won’t buy java at the swank little shop packed with the local cognoscenti, eyes glued to their Mac Books, can instead feel free to wander in under those familiar arches to enjoy their own brand of caffeinated pleasure.

In other words, McDonald’s should be saluted for recognizing the unmet wants and needs of a market segment…a segment that wanted coffee, but for whom the culture (and cost) of Starbucks was more than they could swallow.

I’ve had McDonald’s coffee, and it isn’t bad. It costs less than a straight coffee at SBUX. But the culture is decidely different. The only apple wou will find there is in a small, fried turnover. And the uncomfortable seating, more often than not bolted to the floor, simply isn’t quite as inviting as a stuffed chair.

I just hope that McD’s remembers to remind their patrons that this stuff is hot. Never mind that it could leave a nasty stain on your hockey jersey.

Dr “A Shot of Hazelnut, Please” Gerlich

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