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Whataburger seeks to become a ‘go-to coffee shop’ in the US

The 24-hour fast-food chain has positioned itself as a new contender in the US branded coffee shop market after adding a revamped hot and iced coffee menu across its 1,014 stores in a bid to attract younger consumers

The launch is designed to ‘eliminate the coffee desert that exists after midnight in most cities’ | Photo credit: Whataburger


US fast-food chain Whataburger has positioned itself as a new ‘go-to coffee shop’ after introducing an upgraded iced and hot coffee beverages menu.  

The Texas-based company began trialling iced coffee in its San Antonio stores in November 2023 before permanently introducing the range across its 1,014 US restaurants on 7 May 2024.  

Whataburger, which is open 24 hours a day, said the launch is designed to ‘eliminate the coffee desert that exists after midnight in most cities’, with its vanilla, caramel and mocha-flavoured coffee beverages pivoted towards younger consumers.  

In a further indication of the burger chain’s aspirations in the US premium coffee shop market, Whataburger’s promotes its new value-focused beverage range as a 100% arabica blend sourced from Colombia, Honduras and Nicaragua. 

Hot coffee is priced between $1.69-$2.59, while iced drinks retail for $3.69-$3.99 – although prices will vary across the 15 states the chain operates in.  

“Our customers wanted iced coffee, so we took the opportunity to elevate our entire coffee lineup. Our research shows that cold drinks are especially popular with younger consumers, particularly Gen Z. With iced coffee, we can cater to the tastes of a new demographic while also delivering the delicious hot coffee our long-time fans crave,” said Scott Hudler, Chief Marketing Officer, Whataburger. 

The move comes six months after US fast-food giant McDonald’s began trialling a new indulgence-focused café concept, CosMc’s, in Illinois. CosMc’s, which has a menu primarily focused on blended and iced coffee beverages, was launched to boost McDonald’s day-part sales and ‘solve the 3pm slump’. 


Read related news: Are US consumers giving hot coffee the cold shoulder? 

Cold coffee sales are booming in the US, driven by rising demand among younger consumers. World Coffee Portal’s Project Café USA 2024 report found that 24% of US consumers surveyed consume iced coffee on a daily basis, with iced coffee second only to filter coffee in terms of last coffee shop order frequency. 

Additionally, half of US industry leaders surveyed by World Coffee Portal highlighted iced coffee’s popularity as the most important consumer trend affecting their country’s branded coffee shop market, ahead of the growth of specialty coffee (32%) and drive-thrus (29%). 

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