Times are a’changing at Disney Parks. With the testing of FastPass+ and MagicBands, new ride overlays for Christmas, and expansion projects abound, guests are finding new ways to enjoy the theme parks. Coffee is one of those new additions. Now don’t get me wrong, coffee has regularly been served in the restaurants and food kiosks for decades, but a recent partnership between Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company brings new brews and java fixes for guests staying in Disney resorts and frolicking in the parks.
Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company is fairly new to me, but apparently is growing in popularity. It was first established in 1984 and imports coffees and teas from around the globe. Chris de Mezzo, Joffrey’s dedicated “roastmaster,” is responsible for selecting coffee beans and tea leaves to use in a variety of blends. The company boasts that it only used specialty grade Arabica beans which are a part of an “elite category with rigorous standards that can only be met by fewer than 10 percent of coffee beans worldwide.” That sounds pretty impressive to me and might just explain why the company distributes its products to gourmet shops and supermarkets, cruise lines, resorts, and restaurants worldwide.
With this being said, it still surprises me that this partnership has been born. It was just last year when Disney Parks announced that Starbucks would be replacing the Main Street Bakery in Florida’s Magic Kingdom. In fact, it opened only six months ago. Likewise, the Epcot location debuted in September, one already is popular in Disney California Adventure, and plans for additional locations are still on the table.
If Disney already had a strong partnership with Starbucks why did it decide to bring Joffrey’s in as well? One can only speculate that it had to do with cost (think Starbucks vs. Joffrey’s pricing). The announcement came back in February, but little has been said since then. The infamous Nescafe instant coffee (frequently referred to as “NesCrape” by members of the DIS Unplugged podcast and those on DISboards.com) was quietly replaced in all hotel rooms by Joffrey’s, which is now the official brand of the Walt Disney World and Disneyland resorts. I can almost understand what led to the partnership. Disney had to recognize the price difference between Starbucks and Joffrey’s when deciding what to furnish resort coffee makers with and it made sense to use two brands, but then this happened…
Wait, is that what I think it is? Why, yes it is! Just a few days ago a new Joffrey’s coffee kiosk popped up in Disney’s Hollywood Studios (DHS)! This has me totally baffled especially since Starbucks is set to open a location at DHS in the future. Rumors have been claiming Starring Rolls or The Writer’s Stop (does anyone remember when this was themed to Ellen Degeneres’ show?) as the next spot; how did Joffrey’s pop up in the parks now? Joffrey’s and its competitor could very well duke it out in the end once the latter’s kiosk is open, but I find it hard to believe that both will exist in the same park. One of them will have to go, and based on the contract and multi-year plan, I don’t think it will be Starbucks.
After digging a bit further, I discovered that Joffrey’s actually has had a contract with Disney Parks since 1995 and operates a few specialty coffee kiosks on property already, as well as provides the coffees served at fine dining restaurants. The branding is not as pronounced though, but is obviously becoming more so as plans are expanded upon. Still, the concept of it existing alongside Starbucks has me raising eyebrows. I’m not quite so sure how the two are going to co-exist, but I guess only time will tell.
For now though, Disney and Joffrey’s are starting to advertise the news of their happy marriage in the parks. In addition to the coffee found in resort rooms and the birth of the DHS kiosk, a line of signature blends themed to Disney restaurants is now available for purchase. de Mezzo and Disney chefs collaborated on special blends inspired by the menus of some of the most popular restaurants in both Walt Disney World and Disneyland. Ted Abrams, Joffrey’s CEO, said that he is looks forward to seeing new customers discover the brand while in the parks. “We are excited to extend our relationship with Disney by making these quality restaurant blends available at anytime to Disney guests as well as to our loyal customers,” he explained.
The coffee blends were previously only available at their matching restaurant, but now can be purchased online via Joffrey’s website. “We are thrilled to extend the Disney dining experience to our guests beyond their vacation,” said Mahmud Dhanani, vice president, Food & Beverage for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. Brews include Artist Point, Carthay Circle Restaurant, Flavors of Africa, Flying Fish Cafe Espresso, and more. “Joffrey’s has been able to capture the essence of our signature restaurants by creating high-quality, unique specialty coffees that you can enjoy in your own home,” added Dhanani. Prices vary from $12.95-$14.95 for a 16 oz. bag.
All in all, I think that offering new coffees in the Disney Parks is a good thing and truly needed. I like the fact that themed brews are available and think they would make a great gift for any Disney fan. Still, how Joffrey’s and Starbucks are going to co-exist has me wondering. What do you think? Are tensions “brewing” between the two or will a happy “java” medium be born? Share your thoughts below!