Starbucks comes calling in Johannesburg

Hundreds of people queue during the official opening of South Africa's first Starbucks store, also the US coffeehouse chain's first store in Sub-Saharan Africa, in Johannesburg on April 21, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / GIANLUIGI GUERCIA

Johannesburg / AFP

Hundreds of coffee lovers queued early Thursday in an upmarket Johannesburg shopping centre as international chain Starbucks opened its first cafe in sub-Saharan Africa.
The US-based global brand plans to open 12-15 more stores in South Africa over the next two years, with a long term plan of up to 150 outlets.
“The timing is right. We are going to offer coffee lovers a special experience,” said Carlo Gonzaga, chief executive of Taste Holdings, the local partner of Starbucks Coffee Company.
The cafe’s first customers formed a long line at Starbucks’ doors in the Rosebank shopping centre before the opening at 7:30 a.m.
“This is long overdue,” said Norma Cooper, a bank employee.
“Starbucks has been one of the things missing from the South African scene.”
A second branch will open later this month at another shopping mall, also in the financial capital Johannesburg, but Gonzaga said there were no plans of expanding to other countries in the region.
Starbucks, which operates more than 22,000 cafes worldwide, has a presence in only two other African countries — Egypt and Morocco.
Gonzaga told journalists the prices were tailor made for the South African market and not linked to the exchange rate, which has seen the South African currency fall against the US dollar.
A caffe latte in the stylishly
designed shop with copper artworks costs between 27 and 33 rand (US$1.89 — US$2.30).
In terms of wages, a bank teller’s hourly rate in South Africa starts from 19.28 rand while an administrative clerk starts from 17.94 rand, according to Payscale, a private salary survey firm.
Starbucks will compete with a host of well-established locally-owned brands and independent coffee shops.
“We also carefully considered South African customer tastes when we developed our menu and customers can expect local products like Rooibos tea,” said Gonzaga.
Some of the coffee beans are sourced from nine African countries, including Kenya and Burundi.
South Africa has the most developed economy on the continent, and several American food chains have opened doors here recently, including Burger King and Krispy Kreme Doughnut.
Starbucks Corporation is an American coffee company and coffeehouse chain. Starbucks was founded in
Seattle, Washington in 1971. Today it
operates 23,768 locations worldwide, including 13,107 (+170) in the United States, 2,204 (+86) in China, 1,418 (-12) in Canada, 1,160 (+2) in Japan and 872 in South Korea (bumping United Kingdom from 5th place) (Differences reflect growth since January 8, 2016).
Starbucks is considered the main representative of “second wave
coffee”, initially distinguishing itself from other coffee-serving venues in the US by taste, quality, and customer experience, while popularising darkly roasted coffee. Since the 2000s, third wave coffee makers have targeted quality-minded coffee drinkers with hand-made coffee based on lighter roasts, while Starbucks nowadays used automated espresso machines for efficiency and safety reasons.
Starbucks locations serve hot and cold drinks, whole-bean coffee, microground instant coffee known as VIA, espresso, caffe latte, full- and loose-leaf teas including Teavana tea products, Evolution Fresh juices, Frappuccino beverages, pastries, and snacks; some offerings (including their Pumpkin Spice Latte) are seasonal or specific to the locality of the store. Many stores sell pre-packaged food items, hot and cold sandwiches, and drinkware including mugs and tumblers; select “Starbucks Evenings” locations offer beverages and appetisers. Starbucks-brand coffee, ice cream and bottled cold coffee drinks are also sold at grocery stores.

Starbucks employees serve customers during the official opening of South Africa's first Starbucks store, also the US coffeehouse chain's first store in Sub-Saharan Africa, in Johannesburg on April 21, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / GIANLUIGI GUERCIA

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