by Matt Gibson
Have you ever wondered, what kind of coffee does McDonald’s use, anyway? Coffee enthusiasts don’t usually think about fast food chains when they think of good places to get a good, gourmet cup of joe. The local, family owned coffee shops, coffee roasters, and fancy coffee spots are always the first places that seem to pop into people’s minds when someone mentions going out for coffee. That’s why it may come as a surprise to coffee lovers to learn that McDonald’s actually serves high-quality, gourmet coffee sourced from 100% arabica beans.
Mass-market brands like Folgers and Maxwell House produce pre-ground blends of robusta and arabica beans. Robusta beans are used because they are cheaper to grow and obtain, as they can grow in lower altitudes, and in more places around the world. Arabica beans are used to cover up the bitter, overpowering flavor and aroma of the robusta beans. Coffee lovers probably assume that fast food chains like McDonald’s brew big name brands like Folgers, or possibly even cheaper sources of coffee for their house blends. But the opposite is actually the case.
McDonald’s uses a coffee supplier by the name of Gavina, which produces gourmet coffee, made from 100% arabica beans, which they source from some of the best coffee producing regions of the world, including Columbia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Brazil. McDonald’s policy for all of their franchise locations is to brew a fresh pot of coffee every thirty minutes to ensure freshness and quality for their customers.
However, Gavina is not the only coffee source that McDonald’s has a relationship with. They are also partnered with Green Mountain Coffee, who is behind the production of the McCafe McDonald’s coffee line. McCafe sells their ground coffee blends at major retail outlets in the can, bag, and in K-cups. There are many different blends to choose from in the McCafe line, including premium blend, breakfast roast, decaf, French roast, Columbian, French vanilla, and a mocha collection that includes chocolate, cinnamon-chocolate, and caramel-chocolate varieties.
McDonalds is now not only a big name in fast-food, but they’ve put their footprint on the world of coffee now as well. However, in 2017, a question was asked in the forums on coffeedetective.com wondering whether or not McDonald’s has changed the recipe for the coffees they sell and serve in house.
There have been a ton of interesting responses to that question in the years since, even as late as 2021, which claim that like many other big names in coffee, McDonalds has also switched out the recipe in order to cut costs to keep prices down.
Though McDonalds has certainly kept quiet about any recipe changes, it wouldn’t come as a big surprise to learn that they no longer use 100% arabica beans, or that they no longer abide by free-trade, or sustainability guidelines. If you have noticed a significant change in the quality of McDonald’s coffee in the past few years, please chime in below!