June 2, 2011

Golden Arches; Golden Espresso?

McDonald's is big business. And more and more, it's becoming big coffee business as well. The fast food giant boasts "premium roast" coffee (an ambiguous term, at best), and espresso beverages (prepared with the push of a button). But it's not about the quality; it's about the price, and the ubiquity.

That's the assumption, at least. 

But Australia's McDonald's branch, despite doing good business, is promising to step up its game. There are the usual lines about better beans, a better blend, and renewed focus on the details. It's the sort of corporate speak you expect to hear, except for one line:

"McDonald’s will launch a richer, darker coffee blend and a national training program to train employees to be dedicated baristas."
It's the last part that took me by surprise. McDonald's did pioneer the assembly line method of restaurant cooking, and so it makes sense that if you have a fry guy, a cashier, etc., you might also have a coffee guy. 

I would really, really like to go on a tangent about how this is a disgrace to the job title, or something to that effect. But I have to confess that I don't know for sure what the job will entail. Will the Australian machines be the same, one button, one drink, affairs that American stores have? If not, will the "barista" position ever reach the States? 

For now, we'll have to wait and see.

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