McDonald’s has beaten Starbucks and Canadian coffee brand Tim Hortons to a deal with WestJet airlines that will see the fast food company’s coffee served to customers at 35,000 feet for the first time.
The deal with Canadian airline WestJet will mean McCafé’s Premium Roast will be offered as complimentary beverages on-board, first introduced last week on its Toronto to Calgary route. The roll-out to the rest of the airline will start on 1 December, when all passengers will be offered a McCafé as one of their complimentary drinks.
The coffee has been specially brewed to adjust to higher altitudes which dull the senses, using a darker roast of beans used as well as a slightly hotter water temperature. Coffees which require steamed milk like cappuccino and lattes will not be available.
John Betts, president of McDonald’s Canada, said: “We’ve always believed that the sky is the limit for McCafé - and today this officially rings true.”
— WestJet (@WestJet) November 24, 2016
WestJet’s chief executive Gregg Saretsky told the Toronto Star that the airline serves 30,000 cups of coffee a day. It is not yet known if McDonald’s food will be served on the airline in the future, but Saretsky did not rule it out in an interview with the Star: “Possibly. We really want to make sure we get the coffee right first.”
McDonald’s has been pumping much of its marketing budget into propelling its coffee brand, diversifying beyond fast food. McCafé was the number four coffee brand in the UK when it signed Channel 4 last year to create real-time ads in between hit shows Gogglebox and The Island with Bear Grylls.
The ads, ‘McCafé moments’ took cues from Gogglebox by putting regular people in a cafe set to discuss what just happened in the show. As a result of the ads, McCafé leapt to become the number two coffee brand in the UK, with 10 million cups of coffee sold during the campaign.