Although food options still drive breakfast decision-making as a primary factor, Technomic, Inc., Chicago, IL, has seen some growth in coffee’s influence over consumers’ breakfast choices. According to Kelly Weikel, Technomic’s consumer research manager, about one-third of consumers considers themselves loyal to a coffee brand and one-fifth says it determines their decision of where to go for breakfast.

“I think it’s because there are more places that now offer breakfast,” she said. “You have coffee shops like Starbucks and Caribou with more options around food, so consumers can get their preferred coffee and a sandwich while there.”

McDonald’s witnessed coffee’s influence and introduced McCafé espresso drinks in May 2009.

“Traditionally we saw people coming for a sausage and egg McMuffin or McGriddle and then maybe going somewhere else for their coffee or making their coffee at home and going through the drive through, getting their breakfast sandwich and leaving,” said Danya Proud, spokesperson for McDonald’s USA, Oakbrook, IL. “What we’ve seen [since 2009] is customers pairing their McCafé beverages with their favorite menu items for breakfast.”

Ms. Proud said McDonald’s has noticed this trend continue since the company introduced its oatmeal in January 2011. Oatmeal and coffee have proven to be a well-matched couple on the breakfast menu.