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McDonald's McCafe in the Making
Photograph by Saverio Truglia
Photograph by Saverio Truglia
Danielle Paris
Senior Group Manager, Product Innovation and Development
Sofia Therios
Director of Marketing, Brand Content for McCafé
Oakbrook, Illinois

Danielle Paris, 45, right, and Sofia Therios, 49, are part of the team that spent years perfecting McDonald's entry into specialty Italian-espresso beverages to prepare for the drinks' national rollout this past spring. Analysts estimate McCafé could add $1 billion annually to the fast feeder's bottom line.

Therios: "In our category alone, beverages are a $60 billion business. We've been selling hot coffee at breakfast for 35 years, but we were able to identify a rest-of-the-day opportunity."

Paris: "We laid the foundation when we updated our blend in 2006. It helped us regain credibility in the coffee category. Consumers were then willing to follow us into other avenues. We started offering customization, where our crews would add milk and sugar, and we introduced premium iced-coffee drinks. We trained our restaurant managers about the different sensory aspects of coffee and about feeling confident with a different vocabulary. All of which led to McCafé."

Therios: "In early taste tests, we had some customers who weren't familiar with the drinks — what's a latte, for example — but it wasn't important that they knew a drink's name or a rule about how to order it. We've built a relationship with customers so they'll feel comfortable with something new."

A version of this article appeared in the October 2009 issue of Fast Company magazine.