The Real Reason Dunkin' Improved Its Espresso

It's no wonder that purveyors continue to improve their coffee game when you take into consideration that annually people in the United States consume around 146 billion cups of coffee (via Urban Bean Coffee). Nearly every fast food chain sells coffee (In-N-Out Burger, Taco Bell, Burger King, Chick-fil-A, and Wendy's, to name just a few), while others have also entered into the espresso market (McDonald's and its McCafé line being perhaps one of the most well known). In 2017, Bloomberg reported that the iconic fast-food chain relaunched its McCafé line in order to better compete with Starbucks and Dunkin' (the company officially dropped Donuts from its name in 2019, per Today).

"Donuts" may have been part of the company's name for decades, but it has sold coffee since the company was founded in 1948 by William Rosenberg, according to Dunkin's website. Originally sold for 10 cents per cup by Rosenberg, coffee has grown in variety and price on Dunkin' menu. Seasonal coffee beverages also have a place in Dunkin's business plan. For its summer 2022 special menu, Dunkin' introduced a Brown Sugar Cream Cold Brew, Cake Batter Signature Latte, Butter Pecan Iced Coffee, and Sunrise Batch Iced Coffee. There are also a number of secret menu items that fans of the brand enjoy.

While an iced seasonal latte beverage may have been introduced by Dunkin' for the summer, espresso-based beverages are a permanent part of its menu.

Young clients want espresso drinks

Just like how McDonald's revamped its McCafé brand in 2017, Dunkin' upped its espresso game in 2018 to better compete with brands like Starbucks, reported the Associated Press (AP). Espresso drinks have been on Dunkin's menu since 2003, but the additions added in 2017 were intended to lure in more young clients that the company found were drawn to businesses that sold espresso-based drinks. The new menu items were heralded as having bolder flavors that would appeal to a younger demographic. At the time, Dunkin' spent more than $50 million to buy espresso machines and to teach employees on how to use them, according to the AP.

Traditionally, handmade espresso drinks can take some time to make, which doesn't match with Dunkin's focus on quickness. However, Dunkin' Chief Marketing Officer Tony Weisman said that the machines would only need to wait a few minutes, per QSR Magazine. Weisman also said that customers could also expect to pay less than they would at other espresso beverage retailers. "There are a lot of competitors in this space and we think if we go after the best espresso, and we have the machines and training and the people to deliver against that, we think that's the best place we can be," David Hoffmann, Dunkin' Brands CEO, told QSR Magazine in 2018. 

Whether eaten with a donut or without, Dunkin' wants to be your go-to espresso drink seller.