Mon, Jan 07, 2013 - Page 14 News List

Vietnamese baristas unfazed by Starbucks expansion plan

AP, HANOI

However, Starbucks would risk alienating some of its potential clients if it did not include Vietnamese drip coffee on its menus in Vietnam, Emms said.

“Say you get a grandfather coming in with a younger relative — he might not want to drink a cafe macchiato or latte,” Emms said.

Starbucks’ announcement that it is moving into Vietnam has been received without much fanfare in local blogs and state-controlled media, although some speculate about how the company will compete with Trung Nguyen Coffee and Highlands Coffee, a homegrown brand that credits Starbucks as an inspiration.

Meanwhile, Nghiem Ngoc Thuy is still swooping across the worn tiled floors of her cafe, setting down steaming coffees just as fresh customers arrive to order more.

At 15,000 dong (US$0.75) per cup, she said on a recent weekday afternoon, as cigarette smoke curled toward the ceiling, 1,000 extra for condensed milk.

Thuy’s family has been in business since the late 1980s, and watched as this leafy neighborhood — called “cafe street” by some locals — has welcomed luxury cars, sushi restaurants and upscale clothing boutiques.

A regular customer, electronics salesman Do Thanh Tung, said he is eager to see if Starbucks coffee really is different from the Vietnamese blends he has been drinking since he was 10 years old.

“Vietnamese young people will welcome Starbucks, once they get used to it,” Tung, now 30, said as he hunched over a silver laptop.

However, he added that he does not expect to become a regular Starbucks patron because he drinks five or six cups of coffee a day, and a latte habit would get expensive.

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