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In Korea, coffee shops just keep on multiplying

Aug 30,2010
Does a Starbucks or a Caffe Bene seem to spring up every time you leave your home? Get used to it: coffee chains will continue to multiply, according to industry sources.

Coffeehouses operated by 12 branded chains now exceed 2,000 locations recently, with 500 added since the end of last year. Starbucks opened 27 new locations from January to August to reach a total of 318 locations. Angel-in-Us Coffee follows closely with 311 branches, of which 103 opened in 2009 and 80 more this year. Most chains have goals to add 30 to 50 more locations by the end of 2010, and ambitious newcomer Caffe Bene - which has opened 270 locations since its launch in April 2008 - plans to open 100 more by the end of the year.

Industry representatives say such growth is possible because coffeehouses in Korea provide a space to be rather than just a cup of coffee. They cite the coining of a new word - “coffice,” which combines “coffee” with “office” - as how customers see their local coffee shop. It’s a place to work, study or socialize.

“Customers now seek out coffeehouses for various reasons: to meet friends or to work,” said a spokesperson for Angel-in-Us Coffee. “Though Seoul has many coffeehouses, the rest of the nation still has a wealth of untapped locations.”

By Lee Jung-yoon [joyce@joongang.co.kr]



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