The Straits Times
www.straitstimes.com
Published on Jan 07, 2013
 

Starbucks enters entrenched Vietnam coffee market

 
 

HANOI (AP) - Ms Nghiem Ngoc Thuy has been slinging coffees to thirsty Vietnamese for 20 years in her colonial-style villa with peeling shutters, and she and her customers aren't too worried that the imminent arrival of US giant Starbucks will alter their time-tested coffee traditions.

Starbucks announced on Thursday that it will open its first cafe in Vietnam early next month in Ho Chi Minh City as part of its strategy to expand across Asia, and plans to add more shops throughout the country.

But compared with other Asian markets Starbucks has recently entered, the Seattle-based company faces a unique scenario in Vietnam, where French-inspired coffee culture reigns supreme, two homegrown chains have established presences and family-run sidewalk cafes are as ubiquitous as noodle shops.

"Our prices are affordable for average Vietnamese," Ms Thuy said, pausing for just a moment during an afternoon rush at her family-run cafe in Hanoi, the capital. "Expensive coffee is just for the children of government officials, or people who have lots of money."