For Dunkin’s new espresso program, announced late last week, the company aims to remove two of the pain points found at a typical coffee shop — the high costs of beverages and the slow speed of service.
Dunkin’ has been emphasizing its drink offerings for some time, and this isn’t the first foray into espresso drinks for the Canton, Mass.-based company.
“This is a really big relaunch, and I use that word specifically because we've had some espresso beverages on our menus for the last 10 or 15 years,” said Scott Murphy, Dunkin’s chief operating officer.
It hadn’t been a big focus in the past, he said, but that’s changing.
“We noticed that there was a huge opportunity after talking to our consumers to change the profile and the blend of our espresso drinks. What we realized over the last couple of years is that as millennials are getting into the space, as the consumer palate is getting more sophisticated, they want a darker more robust espresso profile.”
The Dunkin’ team looked at 12 different pieces of equipment before finding one that could make the line of espresso drinks “at the speed of Dunkin’,” Murphy said. The machine also had to deliver that richer, darker espresso consumers are seeking.
Next, they worked on training staff. Every employee must undergo training before they can make or serve these espresso drinks, Murphy said. The menu consists of hot and cold lattes, cappuccinos, Americanos and macchiatos.
"My entire field team is out there in all 9,200 restaurants, making sure every crew member knows how to use the equipment and build the espresso drinks in hot and ice, and every restaurant manager is certified with a pin after completing the training," said Murphy.
To accommodate customers who are looking to spend less, but keep the classic barista banter, part of the certification includes knowing how to talk about the drinks, describe how they differ and the ability to engage the guest on the topic.
Dunkin’ first tested the espresso menu in Baltimore locations.
“The first week was a little tough as people sort of figured it out, but by about, I'd say, day 7, 8, 9, we got back to our service standards.,” Murphy said. It's amazing what happens when you simplify things, you focus on it, and then you've got the muscle memory and the routine. So the more they made these drinks the faster they got and more efficient they got at producing the beverages for the guests.”
Murphy’s team monitored the speed of service closely, tweaking little things like moving the cups closer to the machines. Those cups will be bright orange with an exclamation point, mimicking the new simplified branding the company has been embracing, including shortening its name to just Dunkin’.
The full menu will be rolled out to most Dunkin’ locations for the holidays. The suggested retail price for a medium latte is $3.39.
“It’s a value offering relative to a lot of the competition out there,” Murphy said.
And competition out there is fierce. As Dunkin’ CEO David Hoffmann said in the company’s third-quarter earnings call on Thursday, “We know in this competitive environment no one wakes up wondering where they can get a latte.”
Starbucks business model is centered around espresso drinks. McDonald’s has its own line of espresso beverages and recently introduced a line of frozen coffee drinks for a limited time as part of a revamp of its McCafé line. And JAB Holding Co., whose portfolio includes Caribou Coffee, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Stumptown Coffee Roasters and Intelligentsia Coffee, has been positioning itself to better compete in the coffee space through both acquisitions and retail initiatives.
“Really the proposition for us and for the consumers is incredibly great tasting espresso, handcrafted in our store at a great value,” said Murphy. “The quality, the value and the speed, when they come together the right way and the restaurant sings, it's an unbelievable proposition for the consumer.”
Update, Nov. 2, 2018: This article has been edited with an updated statement from Scott Murphy to clarify that all employees are trained to serve drinks but only restaurant managers are certified with a pin after training.
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