BEIJING -- China, a traditionally tea-drinking nation, is embracing coffee in the metropolis of Shanghai as the country stands to become the largest market for Starbucks.
The 30,000 square-foot flagship Starbucks Reserve shop opens Wednesday in the heart of West Nanjing Road, a famous upscale shopping street in Shanghai. The store has more than 400 employees and can serve up to 550 people at a time, according to the Seattle-based company.
The U.S.-based coffee chain has seen China as a key market, where sales grew seven percent versus a three percent growth in the rest of the world in the past year, according to a company statement. Starbucks currently runs 3,000 stores in China, where it claims to be opening “a store every 15 hours." The company said it plans to open 5,000 stores in the country by 2021.
Despite a long, proud history of tea drinking and the fact that a tall latte costs as much as $4.69 in China, people have taken to coffee and culture of Starbucks with its specialty drinks and free Wi-Fi and bathrooms. They even take Starbucks selfies.
Ma said, for himself, "I don’t like coffee, but I like Starbucks.”
The Shanghai flagship store will offer a range of Chinese teas at a "tea experience bar," as well.