Armando Sepulveda orders the usual burgers and fries at McDonald's, but recently, he has been buying cappuccinos and mochas, too.
That's because Tampa Bay area McDonald's restaurants are transforming their menus, adding a line of specialty coffees like you'd find at Starbucks.
Called McCafe, the new addition features a trained "coffee specialist" who has studied the art of making made-to-order mochas, lattes and cappuccinos.
Last week, as his 4-year-old daughter ran around the play area at the West Meadows McDonald's, Sepulveda sipped a hot chocolate.
"I was surprised they started offering these drinks," he said. "It's pretty good."
Sepulveda, of Wesley Chapel, takes his daughter to McDonald's about twice a week to play and has found it convenient that he doesn't have to make an extra stop at a specialty coffee shop.
Nationally, 14,000 McDonald's stores will have specialty coffee bars fielding custom cappuccino orders, pouring frappes and even selling whole beans by the bag by the middle of 2009.
In the near future, all 188 restaurants in the Tampa Bay region will feature the McCafe, said McDonald's spokeswoman Stacy Howell.
Each McDonald's store will be outfitted with a $100,000 coffee bar.
One side will serve front-counter customers, and the other will supply drinks for the drive-through window.
The West Meadows McDonald's is the first one with a play area in the Tampa Bay area to feature the McCafe.
On its opening day, workers gave out samples and a blackboard announced: "Your barista today is Paola."
Sepulveda said he's a Starbucks fan at heart, but had no complaints about these new offerings.
"If I'm already here, I'll get my coffee from here," he said. "I'm not sure I'd come here specifically for coffee."
Dong-Phuong Nguyen can be reached at (813)909-4613 or [email protected]