F. Gavi & #324;a & Sons can thank McDonald's for waking up and smelling the coffee.

The Vernon-based roaster, whose coffee has supplied McDonald's Corp.'s restaurants in California, Utah, Nevada and parts of New Mexico for 20 years, has developed a proprietary blend of coffee for the fast-food giant.

The new blend is being offered to 900 McDonald's restaurants, about a third more than Gavi & #324;a had previously supplied. If it's a success, there's a chance the roaster might become a national supplier for McDonald's 10,300 domestic restaurants.

"Something like that would take a long time, but you can hope," said Leonor Gavi & #324;a-Valls, vice president of Gavi & #324;a. "The McDonald's business is very important for us. They're the biggest quick service restaurant in the world."

One of a handful of regional commercial roasters, Gavi & #324;a is profiting from a change in tastes that has seen more Americans get their coffee from premium coffee shops such as Starbucks and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

While those specialty retailers still make up only a fraction of restaurant coffee sales, they are having a disproportionate effect on the market, prompting fast-food chains to improve their own brew in an effort to protect their valuable breakfast revenues.

"Over the last couple of years, we've been getting inquiries at our restaurants, by customers asking for a more sophisticated blend of coffee. Their taste in coffee has changed, and we have to change with them," said Clay Paschen, Jr., president of the McDonald's Operator Association of California.

* The full version of this story is available in the May 2 edition of the Los Angeles Business Journal.

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