Starbucks Corp., the company that popularized the $4 cup of coffee, is testing a $1 cup and free refills of some of its offerings.
The Seattle coffee giant is experimenting with selling the $1 "short" brew in the Seattle area, spokeswoman Valerie O'Neil confirmed.
The eight-ounce short size isn't on Starbucks's menu but has long been ordered by in-the-know patrons. Typically, a short, brewed coffee would sell for around $1.50, although that can vary by several cents depending on the store. Starbucks is also testing the offer of free refills for traditional-brewed coffee in the Seattle area.
Ms. O'Neil wouldn't elaborate on the specifics of the tests or say how many stores are offering it. She said the tests aren't indicative of any new business strategy.
The $1 test undercuts even low-cost coffee purveyors, including McDonald's Corp. and Dunkin' Donuts, a unit of Dunkin' Brands Inc., whose coffees generally start in the low $1-plus range. Although most sit-down restaurants top off customers' coffee free of charge, specialty cafes have largely stayed away from the practice. Starbucks will face increasing competition this year from McDonald's, which plans to start adding a line of espresso drinks at its U.S. restaurants.
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