Starbucks coffee has cozy partnership bringing specialty coffee to India—Part 1

By Perry Luckett, CoffeeMan1

About a year ago, we said you would see a future blog post about Starbucks' coffee outreach to India and their cozy partnership with Indian coffee roaster Tata Global Beverages So, under the banner of better late than never . . . here we go.


In 2011 Starbucks signed an agreement to use Tata Global Beverages' 8,258 square foot roasting facility at Kushalnagar near Coorg as a way to produce global taste with truly local coffee. That led to the opening of the joint venture's first retail shop in Mumbai during October 2012. This store captured Starbucks' intention to adapt as much as possible to local culture while still producing their signature coffee taste. It has hand-carved wooden screens, tables of solid Indian teak, painted vintage trunks, and old leather-bound books, which reflect Mumbai’s mercantile past. Food items such as the Konkani Twist or Reshmi Kebab Roll are a nod to Indian taste. 

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Similarly, when Starbucks opened shop in Delhi’s Connaught Place in February 2013, the store's ropework design stood out as a local theme, along with food offerings such as Murg Kathi Wrap and Murg Tikka Panini. The Pune store honors the city's rich copper culture through copper artifacts and even has a traditional Indian swing for customers who want to oscillate between sips.

Starbucks continues to honor these traditions in the three stores in Kolkata--recent additions to the 120 stores they're now operating in larger Indian cities. They weave Starbucks' heritage and coffee passion into the regional handmade craftsmanship from Kolkata's vibrant, colorful culture.

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The company's flagship store inside the 108-year-old Park Mansions on Park Street celebrates their brand heritage with a large depiction of the Starbucks Siren, created with local tapestry, in the many colors found on the streets of Kolkata. At South City Mall, ceramic pieces highlight Starbucks' commitment to coffee farmers around the world, celebrating the first steps of the coffee journey. The Acropolis Mall store features art inspired by traditional Indian motifs that showcase barista craft.

Starbucks has outlets in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Pune, Chennai, and Hyderabad. According to chief executive officer Sumitro Ghosh, they're evaluating entry into tier-II markets and India's smaller cities (under 5 million population) and is identifying places where it can open more than one store to make the operation more efficient. Although countries like China have far bigger operations with 3,000 stores, India has the potential to become one of the largest markets,” he said.

Starbucks believes India could eventually rank among their top five markets in number of stores. They have the most outlets in the US, closely followed by China, which will probably rank first within the next two years. Canada, Japan and the United Kingdom (UK) fill out the top five. India has a long way to go to be among the top five markets for Starbucks considering that the company operates more than 900 outlets in the UK. Still, they're committed to a slower growth pattern in India and intend to time their expansion to take advantage of a projected market boom. India’s coffee retail chain market was estimated at $107 million in 2015 but is expected to reach $855 million by 2025, according to a report by San Francisco-headquartered consulting firm Grand Research Inc.

Soon, we'll add to your knowledge of Indian coffee culture by highlighting the biggest player in India: Café Coffee Day. And we'll do a separate blog on coffee production and roasting in India because that, after all, is the source of flavor in your cup. Have some information about Starbucks coffee in your Indian city? Please let us know in the Comments section below. 



Perry LuckettComment