China’s population drinks little coffee per capita in relation to the West. However, even that is enough to make China a formidable market, and it appears to be growing according to a new study.

Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and other first- and second-tier Chinese cities are seeing a sharp increase in coffee consumption. By the close of 2020, there were 108,000 coffeehouses in China and that number is projected to increase dramatically as these notoriously tea-drinking cities find an obsession with coffee.

Shanghai surprisingly operates the most coffee shops in the world. In the 1800s Shanghai was the first Chinese city to introduce coffee to the masses and today, there are around 6,000 coffeehouses (triple the amount of coffeehouses in New York).

One study shows that over 2,000 of these coffee shops have been operating for over 15 years which indicates a strong and steady increase in demand. The statistics also show the demographic of the Chinese coffee-drinker lies in the white-collar world between the ages of 20-40. Start-up employees, as well as workers routinely putting in overtime unsurprisingly, made up a majority of the poll. 

The last surprising statistic from this study was the departure of coffee drinkers from milk coffee to straight black coffee. In these Chinese cities, drinks like the caramel macchiato saw a 21% demand drop to 6% in 2017. Meanwhile, cold-brew and americanos saw an increase from 24% to 49% of the market share.

If you want confirmation of the importance of the Chinese market, just look to Starbucks who recently revealed that the Chinese market provided a financial hedge during the pandemic. The company now has over 4,800 stores in 200 cities, employing 58,000 partners.

We are likely to see coffee continue to gain popularity throughout China as it starts eating the market share away from tea.


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