The fast food world is going gourmet: Chipotle will be GMO-free by the end of the year, Taco Bell has launched a fancy new fast-casual brand, and Chick-fil-A customers can now order fair-trade cold brew with their fried chicken and waffle fries. The chain announced yesterday that it has partnered with Thrive Farmers to become the first quick service restaurant to serve “specialty grade” coffee.

According to the press release, Thrive has created an exclusive blend for the Atlanta-based restaurant chain with “notes of caramel and cocoa with a light citrus finish.” The premium Java is available as regular coffee (from $1.59) and cold brew (from $2.29), with 2% milk and pure cane syrup, because high fructose corn syrup is for peasants.


Customers can also feel good about how they’re spending their money (provided they don’t think about the chickens), says the press release:

The sale of each cup of coffee provides direct revenue to THRIVE Farmers network of family farmers in Central America, allowing them to earn up to 10 times more than farmers earn in traditional revenue models.


A coffee farmer holds a cup of Chick-fil-A coffee

This foray into artisanal coffee is a canny move by the brand, which over the last ten years has surpassed KFC to become “the biggest player in the fast food chicken business,” reports the Wall Street Journal. Analysts predict that over the next ten years, it’s growth rate will eclipse even that of McDonald’s.

That success comes despite obstacles like being closed on Sundays to allow employees to worship, and a president that has made anti-gay marriage statements; Eater reports that the chain plans to add 103 new restaurants in 2014. Clearly Chick-fil-A understands the growing consumer demand for quality and customers’ expectation that even fast food should be fresh and well-sourced.

If Chick-fil-A’s competitors don’t start to position themselves as healthier and more artisanal, they’ll find their market share being gobbled up even further.

[via Eater]