McCafe is McDonald's attempt to steal profits from Starbucks

McCafe is McDonald’s attempt to steal profits from Starbucks, Peet’s Coffee & Tea and other upscale chains, increasingly viewed as prime competitors of the Oak Brook, Ill.-based fast food giant.

Gourmet coffee ? which can top $4 per cup for fancy blended drinks ? has a greater profit margin than burgers and fries. More sophisticated morsels may also appeal to San Francisco Bay Area food snobs, who often disdain McDonald’s emphasis on kids and commuters.

The Mountain View McCafe, where sandwiches cost about $4.50 each, adjoins the standard McDonald’s restaurant and features plush love seats and mood lighting, as well as wireless Internet access to encourage patrons to linger longer ? ideally with a second double espresso.

Although the McCafe will serve chicken and feta on panini, Freeman hopes some of McDonald’s working-class ethic percolates through its more effete offshoot.

“Think back to the first time you ordered a latte, and you weren’t even sure whether ‘grande’ meant large,” Freeman said, referring to Starbucks oft-mocked sizes: tall, grande and venti. “We have small, medium and large. We’re approachable and a lot less intimidating.”