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Next up: McLattes?

In a development that’s sure to hyper-caffeinate the coffee wars, McDonald’s announced this week that it was planning to brew a better cup of java, in an effort to snare more of the high-margin upscale beverage business. USA Today reported that the burger giant will roll out a “premium coffee” in its 13,000 outlets by the end of this year or early next. Specialty coffee is now an $8.9 billion market, and the number of adults drinking the stuff has nearly doubled in the past four years.

While there were few details on what form that brew may take — just better beans, or the full gamut of specialty concoctions that Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts currently offer — is still uncertain. But the roll-out is sure to complicate the battle for coffee supremacy, especially for the Dunkin’ crew. As we recently reported, their strategy is built less on a Starbucksian ‘experience’ model than on speed and price. And that’s exactly where McDonald’s, with better real estate and marketing power, is likely to bite them in the bean.