Is Chipotle planning to take on Dunkin' Donuts?

The burrito chain is testing coffee and breakfast, leading to speculation that it might roll out a morning menu.

By Aimee Picchi Sep 20, 2013 12:20PM

File photo of Chipotle Mexican Grill in Beverly Hills, Calif. (© GUS RUELAS/Newscom/RTR)In the battle for breakfast, Dunkin' Donuts' (DNKN) Munchkins may soon be facing a battle with some spicy chorizo. 

That's because Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) is testing coffee and breakfast foods at a location in Washington, D.C., leading some industry observers to speculate that the chain may add the morning's first meal to more locations, Nation's Restaurant News reports. 

Chipotle confirmed that it's testing breakfast at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, but a spokesman told the publication that at the moment it doesn't plan to roll out breakfast more widely. 

The airport location offers a breakfast menu with chorizo and vegetable frittatas, as well as coffee from roaster La Colombe, notes Philly Eater.

"We're currently working on a new coffee program with Chipotle at one of their D.C. stores," Todd Carmichael, the head of the coffee roaster, told the publication. "They, like us, believe in the value of direct sourcing, and killer coffee."

Chipotle would be tapping a growing trend among American consumers: stopping at fast-food chains for their morning coffee and breakfast. About half of consumers visited a fast-food chain for breakfast in 2011, up from one-third in 2009, according to QSR Magazine.

For restaurant chains, adding breakfast and coffee can help boost sales and the bottom line. 

Still, Chipotle isn't suffering at the moment. Second-quarter sales jumped 18%, while net income gained 7.6%. More recently, the chain has won kudos for its haunting ad that lauds organic farming over conventional. 

But given the entrenched position of Dunkin' Donuts, McDonald's (MCD) and Starbucks (SBUX) in consumers' morning routines, Chipotle's chances of breaking into the breakfast market may not amount to more than a hill of beans.

Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi.

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Sep 20, 2013 8:39PM
Breakfast burritos, huevos rancheros, chorizo con huevos e papas all served with refried beans and tortillas....YUMMY!    That is not competition with a donut shop, Denny's maybe, but not a donut shop.
Sep 20, 2013 12:53PM
"It's Billy Mays here, for Chipotle-Away."

One of the best South Park episodes ever.

Sep 21, 2013 9:53AM
Sep 20, 2013 5:19PM
I worked at a mission style burrito place that most of these chains modeled there stores after. we made a breakfast burrito that was very popular it was like a omelet in a tortilla eggs sausage green peppers onions cheese and fresh salsa it was pretty good I would eat them however I never like the Chipotle flavor so not likely theirs. but don't let my taste buds be the end all others seem to like the chipotle flavor just fine
Sep 21, 2013 12:13PM
Whoever wrote this that believes they couldn't compete for breakfast has obviously never waited in line or has saw the never ending line to get a bite of the tasties Chipoltle has brought us. I already eat whats left over from my bowl for breakfast, it's right up there with cold pizza.
Sep 20, 2013 5:30PM

Moves like this are risky, you need to really know who your clientele are and what they like.  With that said: breakfast at Chipotle will work, if their regular customers want it. 

Sep 20, 2013 2:43PM
I love Dunkin Donuts' donuts, just hate the fact they are rock hard 4 hours after you buy them.
Sep 23, 2013 4:50AM
See now I'm going to make scrambled eggs with fried home fries & crumbled bacon all mixed together. All rolled into a hot tortilla w/ salsa.
Sep 22, 2013 7:00AM



Sep 21, 2013 7:53PM
A nice hearty bean burrito or chimichanga with all the fixings makes the best everyday breakfast for those who work hard physically.  You can run almost all day on one even if you can't stop for lunch. Even a hearty hot cereal will leave you "bottoming-out" before noon.  
Continental breakfasts and cold cereal are beneath mention.  
Standard American, English, or Irish breakfasts are much too fatty to eat everyday.
Sep 23, 2013 10:39AM
Stick with what you are good with.  I feel this is when alot of companies get into trouble they try to cater to too many people/things.
Sep 23, 2013 12:52PM
Chipotle sucks. They run a smear campaign against agriculture. Maybe they should just serve tofu.  
Sep 21, 2013 6:32PM
Sep 22, 2013 8:43PM

I would love, love, love, a great cup o, not too sweet, authentic mexi-mocha or chocolate con quesa (I mean really, has the U.S. EVER been introduced to a melted cheese dome on Mexican hot chocolate) and a lightly sprinkled cinnamon tortilla filled with eggs, potatoes and salsa or fruit, from Chipotle! This of course would be made ever so much more doable if they would add a drive through to their establishments. Oh my goodness, I'm getting hungry as I write!

Sep 22, 2013 11:16PM
my mom makes breafast burritos that will kick any chains' version a$$
Sep 22, 2013 5:36PM
Why test a new product in an airport? So many people eating there (foreign travelers) aren't going to be return customers. All they will figure out is if starving travelers will eat there before leaving the country for ane extremely long time.
Sep 23, 2013 1:42PM
More Mexican't crap, wouldn't go their for anything to eat unless I wanted to be on the can all day.
Sep 22, 2013 10:49PM
I wonder if they'll offer their regular menu at breakfast as well?  Love their Barbacoa!
Sep 23, 2013 1:36PM
I wouldn't eat at either one. There are plenty of mom and pop pastry and Mexican places that serve breakfast and doughnuts much better than those 2 chains.
Sep 23, 2013 11:53AM
Chipotle currently serves breakfast at the D.C. airport because their lease agreement with the airport mandates that they be open for breakfast hours. My husband used to work for Chipotle. I've not heard of any plans to roll out a breakfast menu nationwide. From what I understand, the D.C. airport situation is an exception, not the beginning of a new business plan for the company.
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