When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

Coffee Wars In China: Starbucks vs. Costa

Both the American and British coffee chains have big plans for expansion in China. Starbucks, which has opened 500 stores since it first arrived in China in 1999, is giving more autonomy to its Chinese managers to tailor shops to local tastes.

A Starbucks in Shanghai (Joris Leermakers)
A Starbucks in Shanghai (Joris Leermakers)
Wang Fang

BEIJING - In the capital's Blue Harbor International Business District, there is a Starbucks on one of the outer street corners, and a Costa in the central courtyard. While local Chinese coffee shops dread the opening of a Starbucks in their neighborhood, the British chain shop goes out of its way to try to be as close to as many Starbucks as possible.

The American coffee giant first came to China in 1999. Currently there are 500 branches, with the aim of 1500 more by 2015. Costa entered China in 2006, has just 100 shops now, but is hoping to reach its goal of 2500 stores by 2018.

Expansion, expansion, expansion: that's clearly the China policy for both coffee giants.

Starbucks has recently carried out a global restructuring. In order to strengthen its business in China, the company has focused on particular local requirements. "From selecting the location to the designing of the store, the Chinese regional office is authorized to make its own decisions," says Wang Jingying, the new president of Starbucks China.

The American company is counting on building up its chain in first-tier cities like Beijing and Shanghai, two to three times faster than before, Wang stated. It will also expand its rate of setting up shops in in the second and third-tier cities. Last year alone, Starbucks entered 13 new Chinese cities.

Costa's tactics are those of a boxer getting into the ring to spar with the champion. Almost all its shops are right beside a Starbucks. In terms of expansion, it's the No. 1 in China, with two to three stores opening each week. By the end of this year, it will own 170 stores. Its ambition is to have one-third share of the coffee chain market of China, according to a recent company announcement.

In June this year, Starbucks signed an agreement with Maxim Group, its long-term partner, to take over 100% of its ownership in certain provinces, hence it now has full control of more than half of its Chinese retail stores.

Meanwhile, Costa is taking a much different approach. It has signed a cooperation agreement with the Beijing Hualian Group, a leading Chinese retailer, betting on rapidly entering high-end business complexes through the retailer's 70 supermarkets and department stores as well as 10 shopping malls. To shorten the opening time of its new stores, Costa also gives its China office plenty of autonomy, just like its American rival.

The pace of expansion seems to be the first consideration of both chains. Whoever ends up conquering the most territory will be China's king of coffee.

Read the original article in Chinese

photo - Joris Leermakers

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.


Life On "Mars": With The Teams Simulating Space Missions Under A Dome

A niche research community plays out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another planet.

Photo of a person in a space suit walking toward the ​Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

At the Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

Sarah Scoles

In November 2022, Tara Sweeney’s plane landed on Thwaites Glacier, a 74,000-square-mile mass of frozen water in West Antarctica. She arrived with an international research team to study the glacier’s geology and ice fabric, and how its ice melt might contribute to sea level rise. But while near Earth’s southernmost point, Sweeney kept thinking about the moon.

“It felt every bit of what I think it will feel like being a space explorer,” said Sweeney, a former Air Force officer who’s now working on a doctorate in lunar geology at the University of Texas at El Paso. “You have all of these resources, and you get to be the one to go out and do the exploring and do the science. And that was really spectacular.”

That similarity is why space scientists study the physiology and psychology of people living in Antarctic and other remote outposts: For around 25 years, people have played out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another world. Polar explorers are, in a way, analogous to astronauts who land on alien planets. And while Sweeney wasn’t technically on an “analog astronaut” mission — her primary objective being the geological exploration of Earth — her days played out much the same as a space explorer’s might.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest