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When Starbucks was expanding on the East Coast, they learned that coffee drinkers on that side of the continent mostly preferred lighter roast coffees. Mild, buttery light roasts were being poured at popular chains like Dunkin Donuts and that is what consumers were familiar with. As Dunkin Donuts starts their westward push towards the Pacific, they are also finding that they need to change their coffee options to bring in a new group of customers. Dunkin Donuts launched their first hot dark roast coffee – the first in the brand’s 64 year history – last week at a store in Modesto, California and will be rolling it out nationwide this month.
“The company says its food scientists spent several years trying to develop a dark roast that would be bold but lack the bitterness often associated with dark roasts. ‘It provides an alternative choice for our current users as well as new users who wanted a bolder flavor than Dunkin’ original,’ [said] John Costello, Dunkin’ Brands’ president of global marketing and innovation.”
I tend to prefer dark roast coffees, especially when the mass-produced light roasts lack a lot of the depth that you get from premium light roast coffees, and this change would probably prompt me to get a cup of coffee at Dunkin (if and when one opens in my neighborhood) if I’m there, but only time will tell if consumers will respond by switching from McDonalds, Starbucks or their other coffee brand-of-choices to the new Dunkin’ roast.