Where Does McDonald’s Coffee Come From?

in Buying Coffee

Question: “How does McDonalds make such good coffee? All they would tell me is that its from special high altitude beans grown in Brazil. An employee even gave me a bag of it and I made it at home but it did not taste as good. I’m going to try something other than paper filters. Whats their secret?” – Ed F.

Answer: Thank you for the email.  It’s an interesting question, something similar was asked last year about the coffee chain Tim Horton’s and where their coffee comes from.

Read: Where Does Tim Horton’s Coffee Come From?

We can only go by what information the company chooses to share with us, and I’m actually surprised you were given some of their whole bean coffee to take home.

McDonald’s shares some information on their website.  Their Premium Roast Coffee is advertised as “a blend of Arabica beans grown in Brazil and the mountains of Colombia, Guatemala and Costa Rica,” brewed no more than 30 minutes before you buy it.  By comparison, Tim Horton’s limits it to 20 minutes.

As a sidenote, McDonald’s even tries to introduce their own Juan Valdez in “Pedro Gaviña”, who apparently has been roasting coffee for McDonald’s for the last 25 years.  If that’s true, then their brewing or stocking practices have improved incredibly because their coffee today does not taste like it did even 20 years ago.  You can read his story here.

I hope that helps, it’s as much information as is released publically.  I say if you enjoy it, keep enjoying it.  It’s priced right compared to a Starbucks coffee which I consider to be slightly more flavorful, but much more expensive.  Their coffee maker may be coming closer to optimal brewing temperature than your home machine.  And, I do recommend a mesh reusable filter as it allows more coffee solids into the cup although it seems to me I see McDonald’s employees dumping ground coffee into paper filters in their restaurants.


  1. In fact I followed your advice and instructions for cleaning my coffeemaker and my next pot tasted great, even with a paper filter. The cheap paper filters allow more solids to go thru than the expensive ones. Anyway, thats for getting me on the right track. By the way, the coffee sample they gave me is already ground, the only whole beans they use are for their cap machine. They keep their coffee bags refrigerated until opened, then of course used all at once.

    Comment by Ed F — November 18, 2011 @ 11:08 pm

  2. I asked the same question and contacted Gavina directly. They recommended their Breakfast Blend as being fairly close to McDonald’s. Unfortunately, it does not come in decaf.

    Comment by George Siems — August 9, 2012 @ 10:25 am

  3. Good research, George! That’s the first I’ve heard of a roaster offering a comparison like that. I’ll be posting an article soon with some information on McDonald’s coffee and how best to replicate it at home, since they don’t sell it at their locations. Stay tuned! Or, click here for a blog search on “McDonald”.

    Comment by Marc Wortman — August 24, 2012 @ 12:33 am

  4. McDonald’s will be selling bags of coffee starting next week in Canada.

    Comment by Alex — November 2, 2012 @ 5:37 pm

  5. I saw that news, Alex. If the emails I get are any indication, it will do very well for them. People really seem to be enjoying McD’s coffee as a quick-service option.

    Comment by Marc Wortman — November 5, 2012 @ 9:58 pm

  6. Just as an aside – when you’re buying coffee, try to get Arabica coffee (versus Robusta) – it’s shade grown which is more environmentally friendly as the coffee can grow in the under story (no clear cuts involved) and the harvesters picks the berries in the shade. A few varieties like Columbian can be grown in either condition. It looks like McDonald’s sells Arabica coffee which is great!

    Comment by Kim — December 1, 2012 @ 12:29 pm

  7. Great point, Kim. Most of the chains are sure to point out these days that their coffee is 100% arabica, including McDonald’s. It’s reassuring to know that people are educated enough to know the difference between arabica and cheaper robusta.

    Comment by Marc Wortman — December 1, 2012 @ 6:16 pm

  8. Good work George, I was wondering about McDonalds products where they come from, not only coffee all other sandwiches. Glad to see this information about coffee beans.

    Comment by Bolas — August 28, 2013 @ 2:22 am

  9. McDonalds coffee is made at S&D Coffee in North Carolina

    Comment by dale wade — April 1, 2014 @ 5:09 am

  10. Mcdonalds coffee has changed recently’ I have been discussing this with MsD’s personel with no results. I am forced to drink something else. Hortons is not too bad after the recent McDs.

    Comment by Bert — July 11, 2014 @ 7:42 am

  11. As someone who worked for McDonald’s and brewed coffee to be used as iced coffee every morning, I can tell you how it’s brewed. Unfortunately, the coffee comes in nondescript silver packets so I can’t tell you the type of bean or its origin. For brewing, we would take two of the packets to one pot of coffee. There is no magic in the brewing as it was done in a standard coffee pot with a thick paper filter. The key is to double the amount of coffee you would normally use. The bags themselves were not refrigerated and in fact simply kept in a standard store room and brought up when needed. After each pot was brewed, it was poured into the container it would be served from and then ice was added to help cool it down. This was done two or three times until the container was filled. From this container it was simply poured into a cup filled with ice and your flavored or non flavored syrups or liquid sugar. Also, McDonald’s uses real cream, not milk. I was told it was some type of Arabica bean. Try brewing your coffee double strength to see if you notice a difference. This is how we did it every day in a corporate McDonald’s location. I’m not a coffee drinker per say, but every morning I would have a large iced coffee with liquid sugar and cream. I have tried other chains and various roasts and I’ve got to say that McDonald’s iced coffee is the one I always prefer. I hope this helps in some way.

    Comment by Leon — November 27, 2014 @ 5:05 am

  12. Another thin you may want to do. Make sure you don’t use tap water; too many chemicals. Filtered or spring is best. I roaST my own and brew ONLY with filtered or spring water. It helps the taste a great deal.

    Comment by Bryan — December 8, 2014 @ 12:25 am

  13. A lot has to do with the bunk coffee pot McDonald’s uses! It brews at 200 degrees. It makes a HUGE difference. We just bought one today at Sam’s club for$230 and also got fresh beans and ground them at Sam’s. We got home and tasted old pot to New pot using Maxwell house and the temp of coffee was serious different and
    Way better. Then tested new fresh ground coffee in both old pot and new industrial bunk machine. It was well worth the money!!!! We will pay for bunk machine after 4 months of not buying one McDonald’s coffee a day!

    Comment by jennifer — February 28, 2015 @ 4:54 pm

  14. Bunn machine sorry spell check apparently automaticly did bunk

    Comment by jennifer — February 28, 2015 @ 4:56 pm

  15. McDonald’s coffee is made right here in Houston. Formerly Maximus Coffee on Harrisburg. It is now called American Coffee Solutions. The best coffee ever. I can not start my day without it.

    Comment by Carol — March 3, 2015 @ 2:39 pm

  16. Jennifer, an excellent experiment and thank you for sharing. That’s cool that you could make that kind of investment and notice the difference in taste.

    Comment by Marc Wortman — March 10, 2015 @ 6:41 pm

  17. I did not know that, Carol. Thank you for the information.

    Comment by Marc Wortman — March 10, 2015 @ 6:41 pm

  18. Has Macdonalds in Australia changed their coffee beans just recently. The last coffee we had was 6 days ago now on this trip we have found two outlets 300 Ks apart where we always stopped before have different flavoured coffee, it is now more bitter. If this is the case this will be the last coffees we buy at Macdonalds.

    Comment by Glenn — April 19, 2015 @ 10:35 pm

  19. Hi Glenn, I’m not sure of the answer. I also don’t know if McDonalds uses the same coffee globally, although I suspect they don’t.

    With the big McCafe push in North America, I believe that McDonalds would formally announce a change in recipe with their coffee, as they did with their chicken nuggets about five years ago. I know it seems like a strange comparison, but this is a fast food restaurant with a consistent offering after all so there is usually an announcement if any of their products are undergoing a change.

    Comment by Marc Wortman — April 21, 2015 @ 6:36 pm

  20. Mc Donald’s Coffee is 100% arabica Cafe Collections House Blend which Is made by Kraft Foods. Krafts portfolio includes: Yuban, Maxwell House, Gevalia, Cafe Collections, Sanka and General Foods International Coffee.

    Comment by Bob — July 30, 2015 @ 11:32 pm

  21. Thanks, Bob. That should tell you what you need to know about the coffee.

    Comment by Marc Wortman — July 31, 2015 @ 11:25 am

  22. The more my McCafe cooled off, they juicier it became. Shocked and amazed, I poured another fresh, hot cup, not convinced it could hold up to cream. But again, it surprised me!

    Comment by Juan Miguel — April 25, 2016 @ 2:28 pm

  23. Hi Juan, I’m not surprised, since coffee develops flavor as it cools. Professional cuppers, after evaluating a number of coffees, will return to the start and re-evaluate them since they’ve had a chance to cool, and new flavors to develop.

    Comment by Marc Wortman — April 25, 2016 @ 4:26 pm

  24. I might be able to offer an answer to all the confusion. I was a McDonalds coffee addict! I love the flavor so much that I buy the McDonalds grounds from my local grocery store, use a regular run of the mill coffee pot and add half and half then pour it over ice and that is my ice coffee. But I also noticed the home version was not NEARLY as good. I also love Tim Horton’s so I did the same thing. To me, the two tasted similar but a little different in the home versions. Then one day, I ended up taking 4 packets of Mcdonalds coffee cream thinking they hadn’t added any but they had. So rather than throwing them away, I took them home. A couple days later, I added the cream to my Tim Horton’s coffee and BAM!!! It was McDonald’s coffee!!! It’s the CREAM!!!! TRY IT!!!! Seriously, go get some little cups of McDonalds Cream and you won’t believe the flavor craze is MOSTLY from the cream!!! Now, you still have to use good quality coffee such as McDonalds or Tim Horton’s but the magic is in the cream. So now, can anybody tell me where to buy McDonald’s brand cream?

    Comment by Missy — May 4, 2016 @ 8:05 pm

  25. Hi Missy, I used to always wonder why the Tim Horton’s coffee I bought at the grocery store didn’t taste the same when I made it at home. I concluded they must have such better equipment at their retail outlets, that made the difference. Since then, there are a couple things I’m guessing. That the coffee they serve in their stores was roasted more recently, and therefore tastes fresher and more flavorful, than the coffee sitting on the shelf at the grocery store. And second, that you are right about the cream. When I put cream in my coffee, I would buy half and half rather than 18% cream which is what I believe both TH’s and McD’s put in their coffee to give it more flavor (from fat). I don’t think they would admit to either of my points, but that’s still my best guess. Thanks for sharing your story. I think we’re on to something.

    Comment by Marc Wortman — May 5, 2016 @ 12:05 am

  26. Please tell me the brand of cream McDonald’s use’s.

    Comment by Diane — September 23, 2016 @ 2:22 pm

  27. They don’t give out that information, as far as I know. Sorry I couldn’t help.

    Comment by Marc Wortman — September 27, 2016 @ 1:30 am

  28. The bags of your coffee are glued so well I have to cut them open to get the coffee
    Is there a tip for opening them easily?

    Comment by Donna — January 15, 2017 @ 10:28 am

  29. Hi Donna! Every bag is heat-sealed to ensure that air does not take away from the coffee’s freshness, and it keeps its flavor longer. I recommend using scissors to initially open it, then to keep it in an airtight opaque container. Each bag is provided with a clip for you to reseal the bag between uses in case you don’t have such a container. I hope that helps! And I hope you enjoy the coffee.

    Comment by Marc Wortman — January 17, 2017 @ 2:10 pm

  30. Mcdonalds coffee is the best dont know where it comes from but keep it up I drink two cups everymorning.

    Comment by Lora cobb — September 24, 2017 @ 11:29 am

  31. I used to drink McCafes back when they just weren’t that good. It’s been a good few years since I’ve had a cup from McDonald’s. I’m not convinced they deserve my coffee sensitive tastebuds again but it wouldn’t hurt to give it another go.

    Comment by Margaret — November 9, 2017 @ 12:09 am

  32. We just returned from Guatemala and after spending 2 days at a coffee plantation, learned that Guatemala provides coffee beans to McDonalds. They are not sun dried so would be a 4 star (instead of 5) but that explains why it’s so damn good.

    Comment by Terra — March 12, 2018 @ 1:04 pm

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