Guess what? Americans really like coffee. In a show of how true this is, Burger King (BKW) has upgraded its standard, rather uninspired brew with a new line from Seattle's Best Coffee, part of the Starbucks (SBUX) empire.
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That follows a similar effort by McDonald's (MCD) in 2007 to serve a better cup of joe. Two years later the company went all-in with its McCafé line of premium coffee drinks, for which the company credited a 25 percent jump in its 2009 coffee sales. In 2011, Wendy's (WEN) followed the coffee-upgrade trend with its Redhead Roasters brand. Burger King is clearly playing catch-up in the espresso battles, but recent history shows there are plenty of coffee guzzlers to go around.
All of this new, purportedly improved coffee at the fast-food chains was spurred, in part, by Americans' highly public love affair with Starbucks, Caribou, Peet's, Tim Hortons (THI), Tully's, Coffee Beanery, Stumptown, and thousands of other shops big and small across the land. If every corner once had a mailbox or pay phone, it now has a coffee retailer peddling caffeine.
And we love it. Each day, 65 percent of Americans drink at least one cup of coffee, well ahead of soft drinks, the National Coffee Association reported last year. Consumption of the gourmet stuff grew from 37 percent of all cups in 2011 to nearly half (46 percent) in 2012. Much of this coffee is being drunk at home: 293.7 millon cups per day, up from 280.5 million in 2009, according to Experian Marketing Service (EXPGY), a global marketing firm. (We're also more revved up--the amount of decaf has dropped in the past four years, Experian says.)
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