A McLatte Anyone?

McDonald’s has ventured into the coffee biz. It has 500 McCafes worldwide and has just opened its second cafe in the U.S. This newest one is the considered the real test of its coffee prowess because it is in a coffee crazed part of the country — California. We take out coffee very seriously here.

Conrad Freeman isn’t your stereotypical high-tech entrepreneur, but on Wednesday he plans to launch one of the nation’s most cutting-edge startups.

Freeman, who owns a popular McDonald’s hamburger franchise in Mountain View, a Silicon Valley suburb, will begin peddling delicacies such as skinny double mochas and roasted beef with balsamic vinegar on foccacia at the grand opening of the West Coast’s first “McCafe.” Instead of Egg McMuffins and Styrofoam cups of joe, he and a staff of 13 — including baristas who completed a 40-hour training course — will serve buttery brioche and cafe Americano in porcelain cups (or paper, if you order to go).
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Gourmet coffee — which can top $4 per cup for fancy blended drinks — has a greater profit margin than burgers and fries. More sophisticated morsels may also appeal to San Francisco Bay Area food snobs, who often disdain McDonald’s emphasis on kids and commuters.

The Mountain View McCafe, where sandwiches cost about $4.50 each, adjoins the standard McDonald’s restaurant and features plush love seats and mood lighting, as well as wireless Internet access to encourage patrons to linger longer — ideally with a second double espresso. SF Chronicle

The specially trained barristas are separate from McDonald’s regular counter workers. They dress differently and are trained to help educate the average cheeseburger guy who might be intimidated by ordering a cappuccino, which, by the way, will be decorated with a special “M” stenciled in cocoa powder.

And unlike Starbucks, where the medium is called grande and the tall is small, drinks at McCafe’s will be served in small, medium or large sizes. How refreshing.

“I was shocked at how much there was to learn about making an espresso drink. Technically, it’s really hard to do,” said Freeman, who along with his crew went through 40 hours of espresso training.

He learned that the expectations of the high-end coffee consumer is different from the average McDonald’s customer. “If I mess up your latte, you take it as a personal affront,” he said. Ain’t that the truth.

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