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Krispy Kreme Takes Aim at Dunkin' Donuts With New Focus on Coffee

A coffee-focused test store could inspire changes at other locations.

Krispy Kreme's test store in Clemmons, N.C.
Krispy Kreme's test store in Clemmons, N.C.
Krispy Kreme

It's safe to say Krispy Kreme has conquered the doughnut game — and now the North Carolina-based chain is trying to elevate its coffee to match. The company unveiled a brand-new store design in Octoberreports Business Insider, and it bears more resemblance to a Starbucks than your typical doughnut shop.

The new store layout has a warmer, modern feel as opposed to the stark white diner design of the classic Krispy Kreme stores. There's also free wifi with plenty of power outlets and lots of comfy seating, which the company hopes will encourage customers to linger. It's also hoping the laid-back vibe will bring in those elusive millennials.

The new one-of-a-kind shop is a trial; certain elements will be incorporated into store designs in 2016

"While you likely will never see another Krispy Kreme shop exactly like this one, you certainly will begin to see certain elements incorporated into existing shops and new shops that will open beginning later in 2016," Krispy Kreme's senior director of corporate communications Darryl Carr tells Eater.

While most Krispy Kreme stores have a plethora of sugary drink offerings like frozen mochas in addition to drip coffee, the test store in Clemmons is outfitted with espresso machines and baristas to offer "hand-crafted" coffee drinks such as Americanos. Carr explains that the test store also has a redesigned ordering system: Most Krispy Kreme stores currently have customers paying after they receive their order, making coffee more of an afterthought, but the new store "will be able to suggestive-sell coffee and other beverages up front where [customers] order and pay before receiving their order."

While competitor Dunkin' Donuts' coffee has a cult following, Krispy Kreme's beverage offerings haven't quite achieved that level of success; coffee currently only accounts for five percent of sales, and only ten percent of customers purchase coffee when visiting a store, something the company is hoping to change going forward.

But devoted fans of the warm, teeth-achingly sweet glazed doughnuts need not fret: The new store layout retains its focus on doughnuts, keeping the window where customers can gawk at the conveyor belt of fresh-made doughnuts being glazed.

Krispy Kreme isn't the only chain toying with stepped-up coffee offerings. Even reigning latte giant Starbucks has fancier one-off concept stores with coffee drinks that can cost up to $8. Meanwhile, doughnut competitor Dunkin' is on an expansion tear, with 1,000 new stores planned for California as well as big plans for Mexico and China.