Food & Drink

McDonald's Really, Really Wants to Be the Next Starbucks

Even though a healthy contingent of coffee drinkers is down with McDonald's coffee, the fast-food chain is known more for Big Macs and ball pits than java and ambiance. 

But Mickey D's is rebooting its prestige McCafe brand with sustainable beans and $12,000 espresso machines at an undisclosed number of locations, according to a Bloomberg report. For the uninitiated, McCafe is McDonald's coffee shop-style food and drink arm -- sometimes even appearing as standalone locations divorced from triple cheeseburgers and other delights.

McDonald's effort to step up its coffee game -- and in turn challenge your local coffee shop and Starbucks in the virtual office/place-to-hang-out arena -- comes off the heels of several initiatives to give the Arches a more refined feel. This includes table service at select locations, touchscreen services, and a bistro-esque Taste Crafted menu -- all designed to give guests an experience that goes beyond traditional fast-food trappings.

But will it be enough to get people to actually hang out at McCafe locations -- and treat them like legit coffee shops? That remains to be seen. Despite fancy new espresso machines, a revamped bean supplier, and intimate touches like avocado on chicken sandwiches, it's still McDonald's. And even though McGriddles are hedonistically delicious, it's probably going to take a while before coffee drinkers put the McCafe alongside Starbucks, Dunkin', or your local coffee house/go-to office.

But hey, it's a start. 

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Wil Fulton is a staff writer for Thrillist. He actually blames Gwyneth Paltrow for most of the world's problems. Follow him @wilfulton.