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.

12 Comments

  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

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