Burger King is adding new coffee beverages, including a smoother Seattle's Best Coffee blend and several iced coffees.
(Photo: Burger King)
The Home of the Whopper is about to become the home of the latte.
And nine other premium coffee beverages.
On Tuesday, Burger King will announce plans for a massive upgrade of its coffee platform -- doubling the number of coffee beverages it sells to 10 in partnership with Seattle's Best Coffee. The move -- reminiscent of what McDonald's did years ago by launching McCafes to compete with Starbucks -- comes at a time the number of U.S. specialty coffee servings (such as latte and cappuccino) jumped a robust 6% last year, three times that of regular coffee, reports research firm NPD Group.
"People want to one-stop shop," says restaurant industry researcher and consultant Malcolm Knapp. That is, they want to snare good joe and good grub at the same fast-food restaurant without having to make two stops. This is particularly true at breakfast, which Burger King says it's targeting.
"A great line of coffee is the foundation of a great breakfast," says Eric Hirschhorn, vice president of innovation at Burger King. The chain spent nearly a year developing the new line with partner Seattle's Best, which is owned by Starbucks. Every time a consumer purchases a cup of coffee at Burger King, Starbucks makes a profit.
There's enormous profit in sales of soft drinks and coffee beverages. "They're a lot more profitable than cheeseburgers or fries," Knapp says. With soft-drink sales on a steady decline, restaurants increasingly are relying on coffee product sales for profits.
Which may be one reason why BK is about to roll out a bunch. Beginning this week, BK is replacing its current brewed coffee with a smoother Seattle's Best blend. It also will have a new decaf and a new hot chocolate.
BK also will roll out four new $1.49 iced coffees: plain, vanilla, mocha and caramel. And it will roll out four lattes -- $2.29 for small and $3.49 for large -- in those same four flavors. The latte rollout begins in March.
But the latte machines that BK is installing in all of its U.S. stores might not just be for lattes. The company also is considering selling cappuccinos down the road, Hirschhorn says.
What some caffeine competitors are doing:
• Dunkin' Donuts. Earlier this month Dunkin' introduced a limited-time lineup of dark chocolate mocha beverages, including coffee and latte.
• McDonald's. This summer, McCafe will roll out Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothies, spokeswoman Danya Proud says. In late 2012, McCafe introduced its new French vanilla latte, replacing its previous vanilla flavor. This has nearly doubled the sales of its latte line, Proud says.
• Starbucks. The coffee kingpin recently launched Vanilla Spice latte, spokeswoman Lisa Passe says. New offerings are planned for the spring.
Bruce Horovitz, USA TODAY