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China-brand Coffee to Be Served in Starbucks

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Starbucks customers around the world will soon be offered a Chinese coffee from the southwest China's Yunnan Province.

The coffee giant Starbucks launched its Chinese brand coffee named "South of the Clouds" (the translation of Yunnnan) on Wednesday to mark its first 10 years in China.

The new Chinese coffee beans and a new blend combining beans from Latin America, Asia/Pacific and China are already available on the Chinese mainland, Singapore and Malaysia.

"Hopefully it will reach all Asian markets in 2010 and take another several years for other markets such as the US.," Martin Coles, president of Starbucks Coffee International, said.

The company had been working with farmers and suppliers in the Baoshan region of Yunnan for three years.

"We believe the growing conditions in Baoshan can be as good as anywhere else in the world, and we are excited to take coffee from China to share with people all around the world," said Dub Hay, senior vice president of Starbucks Coffee and Tea.

The Seattle-based company, which is closing stores in the United States and Australia to cut costs amid the economic downturn, said its business in China was still very strong.

"China is a growth today and will continue to be a growth tomorrow. Now the Chinese market is among our top five, and it will possibly become the second largest or even the first surpassing the US," said Coles.

Starbucks, which opened its first store on the Chinese mainland in 1999, has more than 350 stores in 26 cities. It opened 40 stores in China last year.

The company also announced Wednesday a donation of 5 million yuan (US$730,000) to support 1,600 teachers and more than 420,000 students in the quake-hit Sichuan Province in five years.

Wang Jinlong, president of Starbucks for greater China, said the launch was more also a commitment to stimulating the Chinese coffee industry.

"We hope someday Chinese coffee will be as famous as Chinese tea," said Wang.

(Xinhua News Agency January 15, 2009)

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