At home and in cafes, China is waking up and smelling the coffee.
From the proliferating coffee shops in the big cities to the coffee machines slowly infiltrating households, the home of tea is rapidly giving way to java, mocha, latte and the like.
"Currently the average coffee consumption in China stands at a mere three cups per person per year, while that figure rises to 240 cups for the world's average," says Ji Ming, chief of the Beijing Coffee Industry Association. "Therefore, there's a lot of growth potential in China's coffee market."
Currently, Seattle-based Starbucks operates more than 650 stores across 51 Chinese cities and takes the lion's share in the market of specialty coffee shops - more than half in terms of revenue, according to a Euromonitor research report in 2011 - and it plans to increase the number to 1,500 stores, across more than 70 cities and triple the number of employees to 30,000 by 2015.
"We have an extremely ambitious development plan in China," says Belinda Wong, president of Starbucks China. "China has been designated as our second home market outside of the United States. We believe China will become our largest market outside of the US by 2014."