With everyone from McDonald's to Chick-fil-A trying to be get in on the coffee market, Dunkin' Donuts has decided that it is time to step up its game with a dark roast.
The coffee and doughnut chain debuted its new dark-roast coffee on Thursday, with plans to sell it nationwide starting September 22, reports The Wall Street Journal. Dunkin' Donuts has never before in its 64-year history sold dark-roast coffee. So why start now? Competition, of course.
Dunkin' Donuts has the reputation of being the light-roast ying to Starbucks' dark-roast yang in the traditional coffee wars. While Starbucks maintains a slightly more boutique image, with darker roasts being seen as more complex and intense, Dunkin' Donut's lighter roasts traditionally have been seen as having more of a more mass appeal.
However, in 2012, Starbucks introduced a lighter-roast "blonde" to give customers a "spectrum of options." Plus, today Starbucks is far from Dunkin's only mainstream competition. McDonald's is pushing hard for its McCafe line to catch on and become a major moneymaker. Earlier in August, Chick-fil-A decided to try to go gourmet with a new specialty-grade coffee.
Even worse for Dunkin' Donuts, is there's more competition invading from the north. Tim Hortons, often coined the Canadian Dunkin' Donuts, announced plans to merge with Burger King earlier this week. The coffee and doughnut chain said it hopes that the acquisition will help accelerate Tim Hortons's expansion in the U.S. While it will probably be a few years before Tim Hortons can be even close to a major competitor to Dunkin' in the states, in some ways, the two chains are on similar schedules: Tim Hortons just premiered its first-ever dark roast coffee in the chain's 50-year history this past June.