The Family-Owned Coffee Supplier McDonald's Uses For Its Brews

McDonald's has a pretty extensive coffee menu and some coffee drinkers even prefer McDonald's coffee to, say, Starbucks. Whether McDonald's is your go-to coffee spot or you're just curious about its business, you may have wondered where it gets its coffee supply.

Well, as it turns out, McDonald's may be a big corporation, but it relies on a family-owned coffee supplier for the majority of its brews. The supplier, Gaviña Gourmet Coffee, is a coffee plant located in Vernon, California (near Los Angeles) where founder Don Francisco Gaviña put down roots for the family business after immigrating to California from Cuba in 1963. In 1983, the coffee company began selling drip coffee to a few Southern California McDonald's locations. Then, in 2005, Gaviña partnered with the fast food chain to come up with a stronger drip coffee. The success of the premium brew led to McDonald's naming Gaviña one of three (alongside S&D Coffee, Inc. and Distant Lands Coffee) suppliers.

Today, Gaviña is a primary supplier of McDonald's. Per a quote on the McDonald's website, Pedro Gaviña, Don Francisco's son, said the family is dedicated to supplying "the best coffee in the world to McDonald's."

The history of Gaviña Gourmet Coffee

The history of Gaviña Gourmet Coffee actually dates back prior to Don Francisco Gaviña moving to Los Angeles. As it turns out, Gaviña was born on a family coffee estate called Hacienda Buenos Aires (which was run by his father in the 1800s) and grew up learning the ins and outs of the business. After Gaviña moved to the U.S. from Cuba in 1963, he founded Gaviña Gourmet Coffee in 1967.

The company has continued to be family-run, with Gaviña's children — Paco, Pedro, José, and Leonor — having taken over for their late father. On the company website, Gaviña's adult children write, "Along with our own children, we still personally select beans, cup samples as they arrive and oversee the specialty coffee roasting and production every day. We do all of this so that your customers and guests can be ensured a wonderful cup of coffee every time, from first sip to final drop."

Along with selling to McDonald's, Gaviña also sells to Costco and 7-Eleven, as well as various grocery stores. As of 2010, the company produced upward of 36 million pounds of coffee per year. Its coffee plant, located in Vernon, California (near where Don Francisco Gaviña first set up the business), is 240,000 square feet and is equipped to handle a whopping 60 million pounds of coffee.

Gaviña's coffee making process

Gaviña Gourmet Coffee brings in coffee from various regions of the world, including parts of South America, Asia, and Europe, starting with green coffee beans, which means the beans have been cleaned and separated from the fruit but not yet roasted. The beans go through a second cleaning process once they make it to Gaviña's coffee plant.

Gaviña's website explains that the coffee roasting process consists of two stages: First, the beans grow in size, then the beans brown in color. The website states, "No two bean varieties are exactly alike, so in order to deliver the greatest flavor, we work hard to find the perfect roast for each individual coffee." Because roasted beans will lose their essence from being exposed to air, Gaviña immediately packages the beans; its packaging is made to allow oxygen to exit the bag without any oxygen being let in to preserve freshness.

Gaviña also practices sustainability in impactful ways. For example, the company provides assistance to its farmers in the form of community infrastructure development, education, and healthcare programs. On the McDonald's website, Pedro Gaviña sums up the company's stance on the subject: "Coffee is the second-most traded commodity in the world, and the economy of over 50 countries depends on it. It is vital that we look after farmers and look after land, as without sustainability there is absolutely no future."