Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Burger King escalates fast-food coffee battle

If you're a fan of Burger King's coffee, get ready to say goodbye: The nation's no. 2 burger chain will begin ditching its "BK Joe" this summer in favor of the Starbucks-owned Seattle's Best line of java, in an attempt to fight back against sagging sales and boost the quality of its food - and, I'm assuming, its reputation. Says the Associated Press:

Under the effort, more than 7,000 Burger King restaurants will begin sell the coffee along with iced varieties that also come with a choice of plain, vanilla or mocha flavors and whipped toppings. While prices will be set by franchise owners — who operate 90 percent of the chain's locations — the brew's suggested prices range from $1 to $2.79. Drinks will be sold all day.
Far from an isolated move, the move puts BK squarely in the fray of fast food chains angling for a bigger share of the lucrative beverage, and breakfast, business. For the past two years, McDonald's has been aggressively rolling out and expanding its McCafe line of espresso-based drinks. Dunkin' Donuts has been growing locally. And Chick-fil-A has recently begun touting its 100 percent Colombian brews, too. (Of course, for the finest in quality, may I suggest the Observer's third-floor vending machine, and its 75-cent cups of watered-down...something? What? No takers? Moving on...)

Starbucks bought Seattle's Best in 2003 and has been using the brand to grow while avoiding further overexposure of its namesake products and stores. Locally, it's available at the cafes in Borders Bookstores. For Burger King, the new addition could help bolster how people perceive its food - something that looks to me to have taken a backseat amid weird-verging-on-creepy promotions featuring the "king" and his giant plastic head, "Baby Got Back" rapper Sir Mix-a-Lot and Spongebob Squarepants, and grease-soaked sandwiches with sub-McDonald's appeal. The AP story says that along with the new coffee, the chain is likely to debut improved breakfast products. We shall see.

3 comments:

Jeff Taylor said...

Thanks for the article Jen! You are doing a great job & I look forward to your retail posts.

Anonymous said...

Concord NC distributes (via chain restaurants & private labels) more coffee than Seattle. So why isn't it the coffee capital of the world?

J said...

This should be interesting. I have never been much of a Burger King fan. That whole "have it your way" stuff is bogus. They train the kids working in these stores how to make a standard sandwich, and when you order something different, they go into brain-lock and it takes forever to get your order. Just say "no mayonase" and it will take 10 minutes to get your sandwich (and you have to do that, because they usually put an entire jar on every sandwich).

So if they roll out better food choices with the new coffee, I might give them a shot.