McDonalds plans to add baristas and espresso machines at all their locations to compete with Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, et al. Oh the smell of freshly ground Arabica coffee beans and hot vegetable oil. Mmmm. Well, I do enjoy the former, but not the latter and definitely not as a mixture of scents.

McDonalds has automated the filling of sodas and plans to do the same with its espresso drinks. It will only offer three different flavorings. I have went through Starbucks drive thru and it takes a few minutes to make your espresso drink order. It’s not as quick as microwaving a precooked hamburger and throwing it in a sack. The people behind me in line will be upset that they have to wait on my mocha before they can get their Big Mac.

Of the people going to Starbucks, probably 95% are there for an espresso drink. This means the drinks are made and delivered assembly line fashion and since the drink making is constant, the milk is always frothy and hot. This will not be the case with McDonalds. If their drinks taste anything like the cappuccinos you get at a gas station ‘espresso’ dispenser, they will not be successful.

Quality takes time and it takes trained personnel. McDonalds is in the commodity business where high staff turnover is prevalent. Starbucks can be a bit like Cheers, where everybody knows your name, or least your drink preference.

McDonalds will offer bottled drinks as well and this is an offering that though they are late to the party with, will be successful for them. Most everyone except kids are getting tired of the same old soda, which in part accounts for the success of Starbucks. McDonalds long ago decided to cater to children and force their parents in to their stores through the voting of their children. Starbucks and Barnes & Noble cafes have ambiance, something it will take a while for McDonalds to understand.