Popular Oz coffee shop opens first outlet in China — in GZ

Posted: 08/15/2011 9:03 am

The Coffee Club opens in Guangzhou

Who knew Australians were such coffee buffs?

The land of koala bears, beaches, and snow white boomers has another export to add to the list: specialty coffees. For those unaware, Australia seems to be one of the few regions of the world which has successfully rebelled against the spreading domination of Starbucks. In fact, back in 2008, Starbucks largely pulled out of the country by closing 61 stores with the exception of a few in major east coast cities. Of course, Starbucks contracted in the United States and Canada at that time, too, but coffee aficionados in Australia aren’t blaming Starbucks’ problems on economics, according to The Australian:

Bean Bar master franchiser Ron Basset yesterday said Starbucks failed because Australians did not take to American-style coffee. “Their coffee is more like a milkshake, we probably have three times the coffee in ours than they do,” Mr Basset said. “We don’t offer vanilla shots or caramel shots because we believe our coffee is good as it is.”

Australasian Specialty Coffee Association representative Brian Raslan, who is one of only two accredited world barista judges in Australia, said Starbucks excelled in making “gimmicky drinks”, but failed to make “proper” coffee. “I think here in Australia we have quite a mature coffee culture and a lot of discerning taste and people understand here what coffee is about,” Mr Raslan said. “Our coffee culture has been Europeanised for a number of years and in America some of the success is because they had all of the lounges and you could lounge around.”

There are a few local coffee chains in Australia, and one that takes credit for Starbucks’ woes, the Coffee Club, has now decided to take its self-proclaimed superior coffee to the world’s largest tea-drinking market: China.

The Coffee Club has just opened in Guangzhou (address details here) in what the company hopes is the first of many outlets in the country. The Coffee Club website has a feature on the Guangzhou opening, and why the company decided to show up on China’s shores:

John Lazarou, Director of The Coffee Club, said now is the perfect time for the business to enter China, with a strong coffee culture growing in the country despite most Chinese traditionally drinking tea.

“With over 1.3 billion people, a growing middle class and general elevation of living standards, many tea drinkers are starting to switch to coffee to feel more cultured,” Mr Lazarou said.

“Coffee drinking is seen by Chinese as a sign of western sophistication and therefore a luxurious commodity — with aspirant young professionals seeking it as part of a modern lifestyle.

The place offers the usual specialty coffees, sandwiches, salads, and western-style breakfasts. Check it out, and let us know what you think.


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