Taco Bell has served breakfast for going on five years. Lots of fast food places do breakfast, but, as Forbes reports, most places that aren’t McDonald’s fail to thrive. Since Taco Bell entered the fray, the McD’s stranglehold on the fast food breakfast space has eroded slightly, and while it might not sound like a big deal, it is for Taco Bell. And they’ve succeeded in spite of the fact that, to paraphrase a company spokesperson, nobody gives one single fuck about their coffee.
The Bell’s breakfast menu launched March 27, 2014, supported by what Forbes describes as the chain’s largest-ever marketing campaign. Four-odd years later, the Grande Scrambler and Breakfast Crunchwrap have been joined by a value menu that includes nine $1 items. There have been Waffle Tacos and Chicken Biscuit Tacos and Naked Egg Tacos. There is also coffee, but according to Forbes, Melissa Friebe, a Taco Bell senior vice president of brand marketing and consumer insights, all the creative stuff makes up for the fact that people see coffee on the menu and say “uh no way am I drinking that Taco Bell coffee, where the hell is the nearest Dunkin’.”
Value may be a strength of Taco Bell’s, but—unlike McDonald’s McCafé juggernaut—coffee is not. There is coffee on the morning menu, as well as iced coffee, but Friebe admits Taco Bell is known for its food more than its beverages.
In the fast food space, Forbes notes, coffee “drives occasion and creates habit,” but Taco Bell has done just fine despite the who-gives-a-shit coffee. According to Friebe, even though people say they want comforting, predictable, coffee-adjacent stuff in the morning, they are secretly just dying to eat stuff that’s gimmicky or weird:
“What our consumers were saying is that they wanted routine, comfortable, familiar in the morning. But our creative products have done really well, so that has been a pleasant surprise for us… Based on what our consumers said they wanted, we’ve done better than expected.”
Perhaps there’ll be some weird Taco Bell coffee concoction in the future, though. Friebe didn’t give Forbes much dirt on the future of the Bell’s breakfast menu, but she did allude to more weird shit in the future: “We don’t get comfortable here. You can expect that we’re looking at how to bring even more creativity into the space… Breakfast is here to stay at Taco Bell.”