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Beijing cafes booming not because of coffee, but space

[ 2009-11-04 10:43]     字号 [] [] []  
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While it is no surprise that many Beijingers have taken to coffee since foreign companies arrived on the scene nearly 10 years ago, customers are hanging out at cafes not for the coffee - but the environment.

Ren Yue, 31, is the face of the Chinese coffee drinking generation. As a successful banking consultant, drinking a cup of Joe became part of her daily routine more than six years ago. Her doctor even recommended she started drinking coffee to aid digestion.

While she is a coffee lover, most of her friends are not - but that has not stopped them from being part of Beijing's emerging cafe culture.

A decade ago, Starbucks opened its first store on the Chinese mainland, looking to shake up the long-standing tea drinking culture with a jolt of caffeine. A few years later, Yue had her first sip of coffee and she was soon hooked.

Starbucks now runs about 700 outlets on the mainland. Martin Coles, president of Starbucks Coffee International Inc, told Bloomberg news agency in July that "China clearly is a huge opportunity for us, today and into the foreseeable future".

Starbucks is not the only foreign coffee chain doing business in China. Popular United Kingdom company Costa Coffee started serving Chinese customers in Shanghai in 2006 with the opening of their first Chinese store, and has opened 33 stores in China since.

However, its President Paul Smith says the business model is different from that in the UK because it is not about the product people are buying, but the place that it is offered in.

"It's not just coffee that you're selling in China, it's 20 minutes' of personal space, in a country of 1.3 billion people and you only have to sit and watch the seats that fill up first to really understand how important that factor is," Smith said.


1. How long has Ren Yue been drinking coffee daily?

2. When did Starbucks open its first store in mainland China?

3. How many stores has Costa Coffee opened since 2006?


1. 6 years.

2. 10 years ago.

3. 33.

(英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Beijing cafes booming not because of coffee, but space

About the broadcaster:

Beijing cafes booming not because of coffee, but space

Chantal Anderson is a multimedia journalist at the China Daily Web site. Originally from Seattle, Washington she has found her way around the world doing photo essays in Greece, Mexico and Thailand. She is currently completing a double degree in Journalism and International Studies from the University of Washington.