Chick-fil-A Finally Enters the Fast-Food Coffee Battle

Watch out, Starbucks: Chick-fil-A is upping its breakfast game by putting a specialty-grade coffee on the menu.

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By Kate Taylor

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Is there room for a chicken chain in the coffee competition? Chick-fil-A is about to find out.

Chick-fil-A is partnering with Thrive Farmers Coffee to offer specialty-grade coffee created specifically for the chicken chain, the company announced on Tuesday. The chain will also be serving cold-brewed iced coffee for the first time.

"Specialty coffee" refers to coffee that meets the standards of the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA). The SCAA emphasizes quality throughout the process of creating a cup of coffee, from the farmer to the roaster to the barista. According to Chick-fil-A, only the top 10 percent of coffees consumed worldwide meets the definition of specialty coffee.

Chick-fil-A has said that the new blend is intended to both compliment the breakfast menu and stand alone as a go-to "premium cup of coffee" throughout the day.

Related: Survey: McDonald's Has the Worst Burger in America

"We reflected on feedback from our customers who expressed that they wanted a better cup of coffee, and we found a partner who brought the added expertise we needed," said Chick-fil-A's vice president of product strategy and development, David Farmer, in a statement. "The true magic of this relationship is that not only does the coffee taste great, we also found a partner who shares our belief that business can be bigger than the bottom line."

Thrive's farmer-direct platform provides direct revenue to a network of family farmers in Central America. The model stabilizes prices paid to farmers and can boost farmers' pay up to 10 times more than traditional revenue models.

With the coffee upgrade, Chick-fil-A hopes to establish itself as a competitor in the coffee sphere, a move that echoes McDonald's recent McCafe push. Earlier this year, the burger chain announced that it hoped to boost its "coffee-driven visits," which would bring in customers both for breakfast and around the clock for a cup of coffee.

While McDonald's plan that hasn't yielded much in way of profits for the chain, Chick-fil-A seems to be following the burger chain's example in emphasizing "specialty coffee." By bringing quality coffee to the menu, Chick-fil-A has the chance to bring in more customers for breakfast, as well as establish itself as a "third space:" a Starbucks-coined phrase to describe a living space beyond the home and the office.

With new grilled chicken and a 108-restaurant expansion plan, Chick-fil-A has been making big changes in 2014. So far, the chicken chain has been on a roll, recently becoming No. 1 market shares in the fast-food chicken category. To pull off a breakfast boost when McDonald's couldn't would establish Chick-fil-A as not only competition for other chicken chains, but also someone all fast-food and fast-casual restaurants need to watch out for.

Related: Chick-fil-A Tries to Appeal to New Yorkers By Updating Image

Kate Taylor


Kate Taylor is a reporter at Business Insider. She was previously a reporter at Entrepreneur. Get in touch with tips and feedback on Twitter at @Kate_H_Taylor. 

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