Coffee and coffee drinks have become a key focus for several beverage companies, even McDonald’s. During a “30 Years of Waking up with McDonald's Virtual Breakfast Roundtable Webinar” on Nov. 27, Jan Fields, executive vice president and chief operating officer of McDonald’s USA, said McDonald’s Premium Roast Coffee sales have increased by 30 percent during the past 12 months.

One of the big reasons for McDonald’s breakfast and beverage growth is convenience. McDonald’s restaurants are opening earlier — 77 percent are open at 5 a.m. — and staying open later or not closing at all. Additionally, part of that convenience is the wireless connection that 9,000 of McDonald’s 13,700 U.S. restaurants now offer.

McDonald’s Premium Roast “coffee customization,” in which employees add sweeteners and cream to the customer’s specification, also has resonated well with clientele, especially its Drive-Thru customers, Fields said. McDonald’s serves 25 million U.S. customers a day, with two-thirds of the patrons going through the Drive-Thru.

McDonald’s convenience factor and new product offerings, including bottled sweet tea and specialty iced coffee drinks in some markets, are setting the company up for a major beverage expansion. The Associated Press reported that Don Thompson, president of McDonald’s USA, said in a recent meeting, “We want to move from beverages as an accompaniment to being a beverage destination.

As a “beverage destination,” McDonald’s will offer specialty lattes, mochas, cappuccinos and espressos. The AP reported the drinks will cost about 50 cents less than at Starbucks.

Still, the high-margin coffee drinks are not without their setbacks at McDonald’s. Franchisees are cringing at the estimated $100,000 price tag to cover renovations and new equipment, the AP reported. Next year’s sales definitely should be interesting with the addition of new bottled drinks, smoothies and other beverages to the restaurants.

Campari mix-off

Campari pitted a bevy of Bay Area bartenders against one another in the Campari Fancy Cocktail Mix-Off. San Francisco’s Restaurant Azie hosted 100 guests who watched as bartenders created custom cocktails. The first-place winner was Manny Hinojosa who created the Cielo Rosso cocktail. The winning drink mixed Campari, Skyy Orange, Michele Chiarlo Muscato and Cointreau. In addition, the Campari Angel, Devil and Fairy advertising icons were brought to life for photo opportunities.

Campaign for Dew

Pepsi Cola’s Mountain Dew brand launched DEWmocracy, a virtual world where consumers can create the next Mountain Dew beverage online. Consumers who visit will be able to virtually create a new soft drink flavor that could possibly turn into an online “candidate” that will “campaign” for development into the next Mountain Dew flavor. The site also includes a live-action short film narrated by actor Forest Whitaker, who helped develop features on the Web site.

Birthday shots

Rock ‘n roller Sammy Hagar celebrated his 60th birthday alongside the tequila brand he founded at the Cabo Wabo Cantina in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Hagar was joined by family and friends, including illusionist Criss Angel, Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and rocker Ted Nugent. The celebration was a finale to Hagar’s traditional two-week birthday extravaganza. Hagar then hit the road for his 60-date U.S. tour, which is sponsored by the tequila brand.


New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is the newest famous face advertising Glaceau’s Smartwater brand. Brady will work with Smartwater on projects such as charity tie-ins and advertising campaigns. The electrolyte-enhanced water brand began a nationwide campaign highlighting the NFL star’s healthy, active lifestyle as well as his “smart, strategic side” last month.

Bourbon-inspired couture

Basil Hayden’s Bourbon ended its Tastemaker Series with a finale event in Chicago. At the event, which also was sponsored by Out Magazine, “Project Runway 2” designer Nick Verreos created a couture evening gown inspired by Basil Hayden’s distinctive packaging. The gown was auctioned off for $2,700 to benefit Chicago’s Gay and Lesbian Center. The Tastemaker Series began during the summer and was geared toward the gay market. In total, Basil Hayden donated more than $15,000 to Chicago charities during the Tastemaker Series.

Eco-friendly hydration

Poland Spring not only helped hydrate runners during November’s ING New York City Marathon, it also helped lighten the event’s environmental impact. The brand, in partnership with the New York Road Runners, arranged to recycle 75,000 one-gallon Poland Spring water containers that helped hydrate athletes during the event. It also installed multiple recycling bins at the Poland Spring Marathon Kickoff Race in Central Park to recycle more than 13,500 water containers.