CosMc’s: McDonald’s New Beverage Hub Aims to Stir Coffeehouse Market

McDonald’s has introduced CosMc’s, a unique, beverage-focused concept to compete in the specialty coffee and beverage market. The fast-food giant revealed details about this intriguing new venture, positioned as a potential rival to industry giants like Starbucks.

CosMc’s, first teased over the summer, is named after a lesser-known McDonald’s character, an alien, and represents a significant departure from the chain’s traditional offerings. “CosMc’s is a small format concept with all the DNA of McDonald’s but its own unique personality,” CEO Chris Kempczinski described during an analyst call in July.

At a recent investor event, Kempczinski elaborated on this innovative concept. “There is one more thing. CosMc’s,” he said, posing a tantalizing question: “What would happen if a McDonald’s character from the 1980s that was part alien, part surfer, part robot — what would happen if this character were to open a restaurant in 2023?”

The answer lies in a bold new endeavor to carve a niche in the “attractive and fast-growing” specialty coffee business. McDonald’s vision for CosMc’s is to provide an alternative for customers seeking indulgent drinks like churro frappes, s’mores cold brew, and chai frappe burst during their afternoon slumps. The concept is a test to see if consumers would prefer a specialized location for such offerings, separate from the traditional McDonald’s menu.

It’s also been designed to provide a seamless digital and Drive Thru experience. This includes dynamic menu boards and cashless payment devices, designed to streamline the ordering and payment process.

A lineup of some of the beverages that CosMcs will offer.
A lineup of some of the beverages that CosMc’s will offer.

“Cold drinks make up the majority of Starbucks’ sales,” Kempczinski observed, acknowledging the inspiration drawn from Starbucks’ playbook. The focus is on cold, sweet beverages that can be modified to individual tastes, a strategy that has significantly contributed to Starbucks’ recent sales success.

On the food front, CosMc’s offers a limited but unique selection, diverging from McDonald’s classic fast-food items. The menu includes savory choices like the Spicy Queso Sandwich, Savory Hash Brown Bites, Pretzel Bites with dipping sauces, and on the sweeter side, a Blueberry Lemon Cookie Sundae and Caramel Fudge Brownies.

A lineup of some of the food that CosMcs will offer.
A lineup of some of the food that CosMc’s will offer.

Where will CosMc’s open?

CosMc’s, however, is still in its pilot phase, with the first location opening in Bolingbrook, Illinois, and nine more planned across Texas in the first half of the next year.

McDonald’s plans to open approximately 10 CosMc’s pilot locations by the end of 2024, primarily in the Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio metro areas.

Unique Angle: Environmental and Health Consciousness in CosMc’s Design

In response to growing environmental and health consciousness, sources indicate that CosMc’s will incorporate sustainable practices and healthier options. This includes eco-friendly packaging and health-oriented beverage choices like low-sugar and organic options, marking a shift in McDonald’s traditional approach to fast food.

This move reflects McDonald’s strategy to appeal to a wider demographic, including health-conscious consumers and those seeking environmentally responsible dining options. With CosMc’s, McDonald’s is expanding its menu and adapting to changing consumer preferences in the fast-food industry.

McCafe to be revamped as well

In conjunction with the launch of CosMc’s, McDonald’s is also looking to revamp its McCafe offerings. Jo Sempels, overseeing McDonald’s licensed brand markets, emphasized the untapped potential in their coffee business. “We still haven’t realized our full global potential,” Sempels said, outlining plans to establish McCafe as a core menu offering and the sole brand for McDonald’s coffee. This initiative includes streamlining equipment for consistent coffee taste and developing a comprehensive cold coffee plan, potentially mirroring Starbucks’ successful focus on cold beverages.


McDonald’s introduction of CosMc’s represents an innovative step in the fast-food sector, blending traditional quick-service efficiency with modern, customizable, and environmentally conscious dining experiences. The success of this pilot project and the potential revamp of McCafe offerings signify McDonald’s commitment to adapt and innovate in a rapidly evolving market.