Californian chain Blue Bottle Coffee has opened its first mainland China store in Shanghai on February 25th.
The Californian chain is a pioneer of the third-wave coffee culture, where the emphasis is placed on high-quality beans sourced from individual farmers, and lightly roasted to bring out distinct flavours.
Blue Bottle has an already strong presence in Asia, with locations in Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong. Its entrance into the Chinese mainland market is part of its expansion of presence in the region.
Located in a historical building near Suzhou Creek, the opening gathered a crowd of 200 to 300 people even before the doors open at 8 AM. according to Nikkei Asia, a woman in line had waited since 6:30 AM that day, just to buy a cappuccino and cafe latte.
Mainland China is a saturated market. Shanghai alone has 6,913 coffee shops based on a 2021 private-sector survey. Blue Bottle CEO Karl Strovink nevertheless stated that the country is a “strategic market for the company, and one where it sees a long future”.
While Blue Bottle has captured the hearts of coffee lovers in the US as well as some Asian countries, Chinese coffee consumers might not be too keen on the premium price of coffee that the chain offers, especially when there are numerous cheaper alternatives around from local competitors like Manner Coffee and Luckin, which has made a remarkable comeback from the brink of bankrupcy.