Caribou takes on Starbucks with free decaf

MINNEAPOLIS Caribou Coffee Co. offered free cups of decaffeinated coffee Friday afternoon at its nearly 500 units in response to reports that its competitor Starbucks was cutting back on the decaf.

The Caribou Coffee locations gave out 12-ounce cups of decaf beginning at noon on Jan. 30. Seattle-based Starbucks, which announced Wednesday it would shutter 300 more locations and eliminate as many as 6,700 positions this year, also recently instructed its baristas to only brew decaffeinated coffee in the afternoon when customers request it. The company said the new policy would reduce waste and save money.

Free coffee promotions have been catching on in the battle for market share raging between coffeehouse and other quick-service operators. To introduce its new coffee blends, Panera Bread last week handed out free cups to its customers. The Richmond Heights, Mo.-based chain operates or franchises 1,230 bakery cafes under the Panera and St. Louis Bread Co. brands.

Minneapolis-based Caribou has outlets in 16 states.

Contact Dina Berta at [email protected] [3].