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Seattle’s Best Coffee in Burger Kings; $1 Menu Update

Seattle’s Best will replace BK JOE’s coffee program in Burger Kings by September 2010.

I’m sure this is a good financial deal for Seattle’s Best (owned by Starbucks) and will help BK increase its perceived coffee quality, but in the long run I believe this will hurt Seattle’s Best perceived brand quality.  Why?  Because BK is unable to enforce quality standards in its stores.

Most people have an above average perception of Seattle’s Best Coffee, a somewhat premium coffee brand akin to Caribou Coffee or Gloria Jean’s.  On the other hand, Burger King quality image is quite poor, with people citing dirty stores, low quality meals and lazy employees.  Quality issues are due almost entirely to unmotivated employees and lack of leadership from the absentee franchisees.  It’s clear as soon as you step into a BK that there is little company pride or culture.  And when your employees don’t give a crap, your coffee standards (brewing methods, time in the pot, keeping coffee at ideal temperatures, etc.) will be ignored, to the eventual detriment to Seattle’s Best.

On a side note, Burger King is wisely taking a page from McDonald’s by dropping a slice of cheese from it’s $1 double cheeseburger.  The article mentions that BK is signaling removal of the $1 double cheeseburger from the dollar menu in the spring, and it’s testing higher prices for its $1 Whopper Jr.   Was the $1 double cheeseburger really worth all the fighting with franchisees?

About Ryan Knoll

Attorney and advisor with an interest in franchising. Feel free to email me comments and questions on the "Contact Us" page.

One comment

  1. I think the Pundit is spot on. BK is really suffering in terms of quality and the “I could care less” attitude permeates the chain. I never have seen the allure of meat that is that tastes like it was wiped with kerosene in the first place. Combine that with lazy employees, dilapidated buildings, in bad locations and you have a real no thanks…really.

    There are many things that disturb me about Burger King. I think they are on the wrong side of demographics where McDonalds is on the correct side, and for that matter, and to a lesser extent, so is Wendy’s. However, if you look at it, in many ways they have a captive audience. So short term there is comfort there.

    And as a road warrior the last place I expect to find either cleanliness or quality is at a Burger King. Most of them are not even fit to step into to use the rest room much less eat in. I can not think of a single client I have ever been out and about with when they suggested we pull into a Burger King.

    And now there are going tot try and draw in the coffee crowd? Great idea but this is not a chain known for its execution. I think Bain Capital has chunk, so the stock may be a far better way to play this. It is worth tracking


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