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Thu, Jan 15, 2009 - Page 10 News List

Starbucks launches Chinese coffee

AP , BEIJING

Starbucks Corp launched a new brand of coffee grown by farmers in China and said it hoped to bring the blend to stores all over the world.

The Seattle-based company, which has been closing stores in the US to cut costs, said its new blend is made in China’s southwestern province of Yunnan, bordering Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar.

“Our intention is to work with the officials and the farmers in Yunnan Province to bring Chinese coffee not [only] to China, but Chinese coffee to the world,” Starbucks Coffee International president Martin Coles said.

“Ultimately I’d love to see our coffees from China feature on the shelves of every one of our stores in 49 countries around the world,” he said.

A launch date for foreign distribution hasn’t been announced and will depend on how soon farmers can grow enough beans to ensure local and overseas supply, he said.

The company has been working for three years with farmers and officials in the province before the launch, and the coffee will initially combine arabica beans from Latin America and the Asia-Pacific with local Yunnan beans.

However, Coles said the company hoped to develop a source of superpremium arabica coffee from the province, expanding it to new brand offerings in China, and then internationally.

The new blend will be called “South of the Clouds,” the meaning of Yunnan in Chinese.

Wang Jinlong (王金龍), president of Starbucks for Greater China, which includes Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau, said the company wanted to make its coffee from China as well known as good quality Chinese tea.

Starbucks opened its first store in China in 1999 and now has more than 350 stores in 26 cities. The company began shutting around 600 stores in the US and 61 in Australia last year as part of its nearly yearlong campaign to reverse slowing sales and falling profits.

Coles would not say how many stores the company planned to open in China this year, but said the growth rate could accelerate in the coming years. The company opened 40 stores last year in China.

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