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Free coffee overfloweth as McD joins in

SEATTLE McDonald's is offering free espresso drinks in Starbucks’ home base of western Washington as the titans’ coffee war perks up.

Three weeks after Starbucks unveiled a new social networking website called, McDonald's has launched, a site that allows visitors to print a coupon for a free McCafe espresso drink at participating restaurants in the Western Washington area, which includes Starbucks' headquarters city, Seattle.

The website also features games that encourage viewers to kick the "snobby coffee" problem, an apparent reference to Starbucks. An online coffee-theme pinball game, for example, has such messages as, "Knock the Snobby Coffee talk. I speak English!" or "Keep your change. We don't accept tips."

McDonald's restaurants in the Seattle market also are offering free lattes on Friday mornings, according to a report Thursday in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The Free Latte Friday promotion will last four weeks, the report said.

McDonald's free espresso offerings come as Starbucks is also giving away cups of its new "everyday" brew, the Pike Place Roast. The coffeehouse giant launched the new roast on Tuesday by handing out free 8-ounce samples in select markets. The giveaway continues with inserts in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and USA Today that contain Brewed Coffee Cards good for a free 12-ounce cup of Pike Place Roast on Wednesdays through May 28.

Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald's has said that its espresso beverage platform could add up to $1 billion in incremental sales.

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