QSRweb asked McDonald’s executives for an update on the progress of the McCafe line rollout, McDonald’s USA spokeswoman Danya Proud answered QSR’s questions.
QSRweb: Do you know how same-store sales at units with the McCafe coffees are doing compared to those without?

Danya Proud: I don’t, but overall, you saw the earnings release that came out (earlier this month). Overall, our business continues to be strong, we’re continuing to gain positive momentum, and we’re very happy with how our restaurants are performing.
Q: How is the McCafe coffee boosting incremental sales?
DP: I don’t know specifically. Currently about half of the U.S. restaurants are serving them, and with these strong business results that we’re continuing to post, McCafe coffees are certainly playing a role in that business growth, as is our dollar menu. (Also,) we’re continuing to remodel many of our restaurants, and we continue to grow the number of restaurants that are operating extended hours, either opening early or closing late or open 24 hours. So all of those things are having a role in our continued sales growth.
We do know that the coffees are bringing in new customers. When you look at our business overall, business continues to grow. So we’re serving more customers today than we ever have. Certainly coffee is playing a role in that, whether it be existing customers visiting us more often for coffee or whether it be new customers that may have been going elsewhere that are now visiting McDonald’s for coffee.
Q: Have you speculated how the economy could be affecting that increase in business?
DP: Value is an attribute that has been a fundamental piece of our business since 1955 when we first opened our doors. That today more than ever certainly plays a role in why we believe many of our customers come to us because we know people still want luxuries, but they want affordable luxuries. And the coffees that we’re making available are in fact that — they’re great tasting, and they’re at a value that only McDonald’s can offer.
Q: Starbucks has been the main player in coffee for some time and in recent times has been struggling. Is McDonald’s capturing some of those Starbucks’ customers?
DP: For us, it’s about growing our business. The beverage industry is a $60 billion business, and we feel that we’re capturing our share of the business.
Q: When the McCafe line first started coming out, critics were saying that McDonald’s wouldn’t have the cachet of a Starbucks. Has McDonald’s addressed that criticism or done things in your marketing to address it?
DP: What we’re trying to do with the inception of our coffees is create an overall experience at McDonald’s, so it’s not just about the coffee, it’s about the experience and all the other things that McDonald’s offers, including convenience, breakfast, our rest of day.
We already know that we own the breakfast category, we know that our customers are visiting us for this, and at the end of the day, we truly believe that tasting is believing, and certainly sampling has played an integral role in the marketing for those markets that do currently offer the coffees because we know that once people try the product, we know from their feedback just how happy they are with what we’re offering and have said to us that they will be back to purchase from us.
McCafe Timeline
1993: First McCafe coffee bar opens in Australia
2003: U.S. stores start testing coffee bar concept
2006: Premium roast drip coffee upgrade
2007: Specialty coffee test begins, specialty beverage plan develops
2008: U.S. McCafe espresso-based beverage line begins rollout
2009: March, more than half of U.S. stores have completed the McCafe line rollout
2009: Mid-year, target for McCafe rollout completion and smoothie rollout launch