In These Coffee Wars, Consumers Win - TheStreet

McDonald’s is working hard to lure coffee drinkers away from Starbucks, especially since consumers have been cutting back spending on little luxuries like lattes. That means this bean battle could definitely work to your benefit and save you money!

Hooking You In

McCafe coffees, including espresso drinks, are now available in 11,000 McDonald’s (Stock Quote: MCD) stores nationwide as of May, and many are giving away free, whipped-cream topped, chocolate-drizzled eight-ounce mochas or seven-ounce iced mochas every Monday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Plus, coupons for free mochas, lattes, hot chocolate and iced coffee drinks have appeared in newspapers in some areas as well, aiming to hook in consumers who are looking to spend less on their morning brew, but not necessarily by making it at home.

And as a jab to their higher-priced competitor, McDonald’s has even plastered some harsh ads on the sides of buses, suggesting that spending $4 for coffee is not so bright.

Recipe for Competition

Starbucks (Stock Quote: SBUX) coffee may have been voted Best Coffee in the Fast Food and Quick Refreshment according to the Zagat Survey of National Chain Restaurant and voted most popular among 28 chains including Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s, but if price is a major deciding factor, the coffee giant’s popularity may not hold up, at least among the budget-conscious.

“In order to ensure the highest quality for all of Starbucks coffee offerings, Starbucks coffee buyers taste more than 250,000 cups of coffee yearly, selecting only the world’s highest quality Arabica beans,” Starbucks said in a press release announcing its popularity contest win. But one might think that the money paid to workers to drink that much coffee might be better put toward saving customers money.

McDonald’s says it uses Arabica beans from Central and South America and Indonesia, and its drinks are made to order and can include including caramel, hazelnut, vanilla and sugar-free vanilla syrups, chocolate, steamed milk and whipped cream.

Rallying the Haters

Starbucks has caught some slack from Dunkin Donuts for its use of possibly pretentious-sounding words, so appealing to more down-to-earth consumers, McDonald’s has also opted for simpler sizes: small, medium and large.

Now they, and the competition, will have to see if java-lover’s spending stays small, or gets more grande.

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