McDonald’s fell in love with the foreign smell of money brewing when their switch to premium coffee helped boost their sagging top line. Although McDonald’s is still stinging from their McCafé failures in recent years, apparently they are ready to strike out again — testing out espresso production and other specialty coffee drinks at six test markets nationwide. One of the markets, as featured in a local TV news story, is Rochester, NY: McDonald’s tests specialty coffee waters – WROC TV NEWS 8 NOW ROCHESTER NEW YORK – Local Story.

With the likes of Starbucks dumbing down their espresso-making (and effectively dumbing down the quality of their product) to cope with relentless expansion, there is little reason to expect that McDonald’s espresso couldn’t rival Starbucks in quality. (We’re just inviting the hate mail, aren’t we here?) But as we all know, product quality alone does not constitute a successful business strategy. The question for McDonald’s is whether they can stop hemorrhaging fast food retail customers to the likes of Starbucks with comparable espresso drinks.

UPDATE: March 1, 2007
As with Sony and the Mini-Disc, some executives at large corporations refuse to let their pet ideas die the horrible death they deserve — no matter how many times they reanimate the corpse. Yes, McDonald’s is at it again, but this time trying to integrate their McCafé failure into their mainline franchise business: McDonald’s selling lattes and cappuccinos: WSJ | Reuters. This time for sure!