Dunkin’ is changing how they make—and serve—their lattes

“There’s no reason to go to Starbucks anymore."

Dunkin's new espresso drink cups
Dunkin's new espresso drink cups. –Dunkin'

Not content with just “coffee regular” drinkers, Dunkin’ wants to win over more customers with their espresso.

A month after officially shortening its name, the Canton-based coffee chain announced what it calls “one of the most significant product initiatives in the brand’s recent history.” In a press release Wednesday, the company said it plans to install new espresso machines in stores across the United States to improve the taste of its lattes and other espresso beverages.

The initiative also includes a new espresso recipe, extensive employee training, and new, distinct orange cups featuring an exclamation point for their hot espresso-based drinks. Dunkin’ says they’re hoping for the changes to be implemented at the “vast majority” of their 9,200 U.S. stores by the holiday season (some self-serve and non-traditional locations, like in hotels or sporting arenas, will not have espresso on the menu, the company told Boston.com in a statement).

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In case the subtext wasn’t clear, the new revamp is part of Dunkin’s ongoing strategy to poach Starbucks customers by convincing them their cheaper espresso drinks are “just as good,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

“There’s no reason to go to Starbucks anymore,” Tony Weisman, Dunkin’s chief marketing officer, told the paper.

A photo of one of Dunkin’s new espresso machines, which it plans to install at participating locations by the holiday season. —Courtesy of Dunkin'

In the company’s press release, it says the new machines should result in a stronger and more robust espresso flavor, particularly catered toward the tastes of “younger espresso drinkers.”

“Espresso is one of the fastest growing coffee categories, particularly among younger consumers, and with our coffee credentials we believe we have a tremendous opportunity to improve our awareness and credibility among espresso drinkers,” Weisman said in a statement Wednesday.

Over the last few years, Dunkin’ has expanded their espresso menu to include not just lattes and cappuccinos, but also macchiatos and Americanos. Following in the vein of Starbucks, the historically blue-collar company has also added dark roast and cold brew coffee and premium teas to its drink menu, while pairing down its food offerings. The changes, which even extend to the design of Dunkin’ stores, have been led by the company’s new CEO, David Hoffmann.

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The company is investing $100 million into U.S. restaurant upgrades, more than half of which is going into beverage equipment, including the new espresso overhaul announced Wednesday. Dunkin’ said Wednesday that its franchisees are also making a “substantial investment” in the initiative, though it did not disclose what amount.

“Relaunching espresso in our restaurants nationwide has been a tremendous undertaking, from installation of the new espresso machines, to the creation of the new, bolder taste profile, to the extensive employee training,” said Scott Murphy, the chief operating officer of Dunkin’s U.S. operations. “This is a transformative initiative, and it would never have happened without the total alignment and support of our franchisees.”

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