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Ronald's Retort: Free Coffee at McDonald's

Items on the breakfast menu are posted at a McDonald's restaurant, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012 in New York.Mark Lennihan / AP

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McDonald's is giving away free coffee as the fast food breakfast wars heat up.

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 Items on the breakfast menu are posted at a McDonald's restaurant, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012 in New York. Mark Lennihan / AP

Participating stores in the U.S. will have free small McCafe coffees March 31 to April 13 during breakfast hours, generally 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

The chain announced the promotion Friday, the day after rival Taco Bell launched its new breakfast menu with ads featuring 25 real-life guys named "Ronald McDonald" declaring their love for the Mexican chain's waffle tacos, breakfast burritos, and crunch wraps.

Spot prices for Arabica coffee beans, the bean used in a McCafe, have soared 75 percent this year, largely thanks to a drought in Brazil.

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