Walmart bets on consumers' thirst for coffee

Big-box retailer is introducing higher end coffee on shelf and through on-site espresso bars

With coffee consumers’ tastes and spending on the rise, Walmart is raising its coffee game in the U.S.

The company is launching a premium line of organic coffee and piloting an in-store espresso bar concept in some locations. A Walmart spokesperson told Canadian Grocer the launch and in-store coffee bar are not available in Canada.

The retail giant will begin selling Mash-Up coffee in more than 1,200 stores for US$7 a bag—roughly the same price it sells Starbucks coffee, according to a story from Bloomberg. Mash-Up is produced by Denver, Colorado-based Boyers Coffee, which prides itself on the quality of its beans and celebrates its artisanal commitment to traditional roasting methods.

“We use our classic Burn Thermalo roaster for most of our regular and decaffeinated blends,” Boyers explains on its website. “This classic roaster was manufactured in 1944, the same year that American forces liberated Western Europe… In other words, this beauty was built when the U.S. made things better than anyone else in the world.”

The introduction of higher end coffee not only reflects changing consumer tastes, but is likely another reaction to the ongoing battle for retail supremacy with Amazon, which has been expanding its high-end food offerings since taking over Whole Foods last year. And, according to the National Coffee Association, fully 59% of all coffee consumed every day is in the U.S. is considered “gourmet.” 

Meanwhile, Walmart also just launched its first two LiftOff in-store espresso bars in Texas, with six others planned for Supercenters in and around Dallas.

The coffee bars are made in recycled shipping containers, meaning they can be quickly and efficiently rolled out to other locations.

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