Report: McD specialty coffee sales slow so far

KANSAS CITY Mo. McDonald's specialty coffee sales have been slow in two trial markets, according to a published report that was disputed by at least one franchisee here.

Crain's Chicago Business reported on Monday that weekly sales of specialty coffee in Michigan and Kansas City have averaged only 300 drinks per store in the four weeks ended March 6. The business journal cited data from internal McDonald's documents.

The specialty coffee sells for around $3. McDonald’s has said that it expects the chain’s planned beverages, which include teas and smoothies as well as the specialty coffees, to generate $125,000 per store in annual sales. The figures in the Crain’s story suggest that test sites may have trouble hitting that forecast.

However, McDonald's franchisee John Jelinek told Nation's Restaurant News on Tuesday that operators of some 140 stores in his co-op in Kansas City are satisfied with initial sales of the specialty coffee.

"Sales are going very well," he said. "Customers love it. I have to smile at all the negative publicity Starbucks has been getting." The equipment needed to provide the drinks has been provided to Jelinek by McDonald's Corp., the chain's franchisor.

About 1,200 units were known to be testing the specialty coffees in early April. McDonald’s corporate office previously said it planned to have the new coffee drinks in all 14,000 U.S. restaurants by early next year, when it will begin adding other beverages, including smoothies and bottled soft drinks.

McDonald’s officials did not returned a phone call seeking comment by press time.