McDonald’s launches CosMc’s, a new coffee chain to take on Starbucks


“Our universe is growing this week as McDonald’s starts testing CosMc’s, a new small-format, beverage-led concept that’s truly out of this world,” McDonald’s official announcement proclaimed, teasing its intriguing new venture.

The fast-food giant is venturing into a coffee-driven concept with a small-format brand that offers a range of new drinks, along with food inspired by its parent chain.

The menu at CosMc’s features unexpected flavor combinations, vibrant colors, and an energy boost. Customers can purchase concoctions like Churro-frappe, green tea with berries and mint, turmeric-spiced latte, blueberry and ginger drink, and even a “Chai Frappe Burst” topped with whipped cream and cinnamon sprinkles (or black pepper sprinkles).

Other options include the “Tropical Spiceade,” “Sour Tango Lemonade,” “Popping Pear Slush,” and more. Espresso lovers will also find their fix, with options for caramel or chocolate sprinkles, two syrups, and a vitamin C boost.

The pilot phase of CosMc’s has been launched in Bolingbrook, Illinois, with plans to expand to additional locations, including around 10 by the end of 2024, primarily in Texas.

Lines form outside McDonald’s new beverage-led, drive-thru only chain, CosMc’s, during the concept’s secret opening in Bolingbrook, US. December 7, 2023. (credit: REUTERS/ERIC COX)

McDonald’s plan to take on Starbucks

While the slow entry into the market raised questions in the US business world, McDonald’s is attempting a strategic move to capitalize on the booming popularity of coffee shops and customizable beverage stands, particularly those like Starbucks.

By introducing CosMc’s as a separate brand, McDonald’s aims to create a unique entertainment experience for customers, allowing them to try new products in a different environment while maintaining the authenticity of its main brand.

The decision also stems from the fact that beverages have become an economic anchor and profit magnet for food chains, with profit margins often exceeding 80%, surpassing those of traditional food items.

McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczynsk stated that the company is always on the lookout for new and growing niches to expand into. The beverage market presented itself as a strategic opportunity to capture the afternoon hours of customers who seek a “pick-me-up” between meals, making caffeine and sugar ideal tools.

Caffeine, sugar, business. The first branch of CosMc’s (credit: REUTERS)

However, for any potential introduction into Israel, McDonald’s faces a unique challenge: Pronunciation. CosMc is reminiscent of a fictional character from McDonald’s marketing campaigns in the 1980s, and its pronunciation in Hebrew isn’t very clear.

The CEO acknowledges the alien, surfer, and robot qualities of CosMc, which add to its allure. While the brand starts with a clean slate, the iconic golden arches of McDonald’s remain a part of the new chain, along with a selection of food options. The term “McDonald’s universe” will also feature prominently.

Although CosMc’s may seem like a small addition to McDonald’s vast empire, which aims to reach 50,000 branches worldwide by the end of 2027, it is a significant step for the company to conquer the ever-expanding beverage market and compete with coffee giants like Starbucks.