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Published: Wednesday, 2/17/2010

Burger King brews plan to add Starbucks coffee

ASSOCIATED PRESS

CHICAGO - Burger King plans to introduce a premium coffee line as it tries to overhaul its breakfast menu and boost its slumping business.

The nation's No. 2 burger chain will add Starbucks Corp.'s Seattle's Best Coffee to all its U.S. restaurants in a phased rollout that begins this summer, executives said yesterday.

The move takes a page from rival McDonald's Corp.'s success with its McCafe line of coffee drinks, which have been credited with boosting the restaurant chain's performance. The deal also adds a new wrinkle to the coffee wars, because McDonald's coffee campaign has been seen as taking aim at Starbucks.

"We'll be delivering a better cup of coffee," said John Schaufelberger, senior vice president of Burger King's global product marketing and innovation, who said improving the company's breakfast business is among the chain's "top strategic priorities."

Under the effort, more than 7,000 Burger King restaurants will begin selling the coffee along with iced varieties that also come with plain, vanilla, or mocha flavors and whipped toppings.

Although prices will be set by franchise owners - who operate 90 percent of the chain's locations - the brew's suggested prices range from $1 to $2.79. Drinks will be sold all day.

Terms of the agreement weren't disclosed.

Most fast-food restaurants, which spent recent years expanding their early morning business, have seen a decline in breakfast as unemployment climbs and fewer people stop in on their way to work. In 2009, total visits to fast-food locations across the country slipped 3 percent, according to research from NPD Group.



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