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July 21, 2021

Who will you pick in Coffee War 2009?

By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance

Back in April, we wondered if a McDonald’s free coffee campaign could do anything to put a dent in the iPod-esque java market share held by Tim Hortons and Starbucks.

Based on reader comments, the response was an overwhelming ‘No,’ but maybe this thing isn’t over just yet.

According to numerous sources, the battle for coffee sales is still brewing across North America as McDonald’s continues its push and Starbucks retools its image. even contends that no marketing tool has given McDonald’s the edge over its rivals better than the recession has.

With penny-pinching decidedly in style, Mickey D’s has been able to slice a chunk off Starbucks’ Gourmet Coffee Crowd by offering their new McCafe drinks for a fraction of the price.

Adding to the misery for Starbucks is the new McDonald’s ad campaign, which takes a swipe at the Seattle-based chain’s high prices. The dig is pretty reminiscent of the anti-Apple commercials (the ones where they give people cash if they can find a laptop for under $1,000) out now, don’t you think?

Starbucks, meanwhile, doesn’t appear to know which direction it’s headed. Razzed by big losses when the economy tanked, the coffee giant is re-doing some of its U.S. stores in a bid to shed the corporate image and make them more local. reports the first new location will open this week in Seattle with the moniker, “Fifteenth Avenue Coffee and Tea, Inspired by Starbucks.” Aside from its usual fare, customers will be able to find beer, wine and live entertainment at the refurbished spots.

However the move shapes up, you have to think all this competition will be good for coffee prices in the long-term. Mainstreet suggests a coffee war means only peace for consumers, and we tend to agree.

Does anyone who’s actually tried McDonald’s coffee/McCafes think it’s got a legitimate shot of scamming some of Starbucks’ market share, or is this just a fruitless ploy by the seeker of ultimate fast food monopoly?

Or is it just better to bring a can of whipped cream into Tim Hortons, pretend you’re sipping a latte and call it a day?



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...