Monday, January 26, 2009

Coffee Consumption Grows in China

Though tea in all its forms may be the traditional caffeine source of Chinese beverage drinkers, coffee is gaining an audience as China adopts western consumption trends.

Thank you, Starbucks

Starbucks has worked hard to entice Chinese consumers with the lure of coffee culture. In 10 years, the company has built 44 stores in Beijing alone. To celebrate their 10 year anniversary in china, Starbucks released a Yunnan province coffee blend available only in mainland China, Malaysia, and Singapore. From ShanghaiDail.com:
The world's biggest coffee chain announced the launch of Starbucks "South of the Clouds Blend," containing coffee beans from Yunnan, which is the company's first offering using coffee grown by farmers in China. The name has been chosen to honor its birthplace of Yunnan, which means "south of the clouds" in Chinese.

How does Chinese coffee compare?
Early today, I wondered aloud on
Twitter what Chinese coffee tastes like. Roast Magaine describes Yunnan coffee as "a light to medium body and a light to medium acidity, similar to a wet-processed South American coffee. Moreover, says Stuart Eunson, managing director of Arabica Coffee Roasters in Beijing, China, the coffee “More and more people are beginning to drink coffee, and in the major cities, people are learning about higher-quality fresh coffee from cafĂ© chains like Starbucks.” So again, we have the Starbucks marketing machine to thank for nurturing budding Chinese coffee connoisseurs.

Why grab coffee and run when you can sit on a moon cusion and nosh on something tasty?
A cultural trend that altered the typical GrabNGo Starbucks model among Chinese Starbucks is that, in China: coffee does not work without grub. This plays perfectly into (Starbucks CEO) Herr Howard Schultz's idea of the "
third place"--Starbucks as a home away from home. NPR reported last week that Starbucks sales are still "piping hot" despite an economy that is slowing.

Still, for those coffee drinkers who don't want to lounge in their local Starbucks, one of the convenient things about living in China is the relatively low cost of courier services, so Chinese residents can get coffee delivered to their own doors for practically nothing.

1 comment:

keith said...

While Starbucks is visible in main cities, in backpacker places in south-west China - Yangshao, Dali, Lijiang, Zhongdian - cafes run by locals and foreigners have been serving up decent coffee for decades.
There's more info about Yunnan coffee at www.travelpod.com/members/happysheep and samples of green and roasted coffee beans can be dispatched to anywhere in the world.
Yunnan coffee is mild, with a pleasant aroma and good body. It is slightly sweet, with a fruity floral taste and a hint of acidity. Arabica beans are also grown on Hainan island.