Something's brewing in China besides tea
June 7, 1997
Web posted at: 10:04 p.m. EDT (0204 GMT)
BEIJING (CNN) -- In tradition-bound China, tea has always
prevailed as the hot beverage of choice. But the Chinese are
rapidly acquiring a taste for coffee.
"Coffee is seen as a Western product," Ron Thompson, vice
president of Arabica Roasters, says. "It's associated with a
higher type of product," one with "more prestige" than tea.
But China's coffee bean crop is not yet up to international
standards. And that presents opportunity for Thompson. His
three-year-old Arabica Roasters imports coffee beans from 20
countries into China.
Coffee is the main attraction at Johnny's Coffee, the only
independent coffee shop in Beijing. It is a magnet for
China's burgeoning moneyed class, a mixed clientele including
many exposed to Western influences. The coffee houses are
particularly popular among young people.
And whereas the custom in the West is to drink coffee in the
morning to help start the day, Chinese coffee drinkers tend
to prefer it in the evening, after dinner.
"It wasn't so much that there was a market for coffee itself
as there was a need for a place to hang out," Johnny Odom of
Johnny's Coffee says. "There were always discos and bars, but
there was no middle place."
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