McDonald’s Launches New McCafe Concept

Introduces McBarista, complete with new espresso machines, treats and coffee flavors

OAK BROOK, Ill. -- In an effort to revitalize its McCafe brand, which launched eight years ago, McDonald’s is introducing McBarista.

The Oak Brook, Ill.-based fast-food chain plans to spend tens of millions of dollars in restaurant remodeling and millions more in marketing to roll out the new McCafe concept starting in the first quarter, according to Crain’s Chicago Business.

The nationwide update will include $12,000 espresso machines, sweets such as “muffin toppers” and coffeecakes, seasonal coffee flavors, and sustainably sourced beans.

The new espresso machines produce coffee that’s richer and deeper in flavor, as well as more consistent, franchisees who have tested the equipment told Crain’s. The machines can also make more types of drinks and are simple to operate, with touchscreens that walk workers through each step.

While the initial McCafe concept boosted sales at each McDonald’s location by $100,000 or more in its first year, sales stagnated after the company shifted its marketing budget to other products, Crain’s reported.

“[McCafe] does too well to just get rid of it, but it doesn’t do well enough to be very excited about it,” Nick Karavites, a Chicago-based franchisee who owns and operates 18 McDonald's restaurants, told the news source.

One of Karavites’ restaurants is among the first of the next-generation sites with McBarista. While not entirely attributable to the coffee program overhaul, sales at that location have outpaced his others since it was installed last fall, he said.

The new pastries, which are smaller, have fewer calories and cost less than McDonald’s current line of desserts, are also performing well. While still part of a test, pastry sales have helped boost the amount of the average check and serve as the perfect snack for afternoon customers looking for a cup of coffee and a treat, Karavites told Crain’s.

McBarista is part of McDonald's “experience of the future,” which includes top-to-bottom store overhauls and the installation of self-order kiosks and digital menu boards. The McBarista rollout could take much of 2017 to complete.

Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald’s has more than 14,000 restaurants in the United States. It generates $4 billion a year from McCafe, about 16% of total sales.

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