English.news.cn, Song Dan, Xu Yanyan, 2014-05-29
MELBOURNE, May 29 (Xinhua) -- When the world-renowned coffee chain Starbucks set foot in Australia some 14 years ago, it might have thought that like in other parts of the world, it would be a successful business proposition.
But things didn't turn out as the U.S. coffee giant chain have planned.
After 14 years of struggling to make a foothold in Australia, Starbucks decided to pull out from the country's 1.8 billion U.S. dollar retail coffee market by selling its license to Withers Group, Australia's biggest convenience and independent petrol retailer that also owns 7-Eleven.
It seems Starbucks coffee just doesn't go along quite well with Australian coffee drinkers. "I tried one Cappuccino in Starbucks like years ago, it was watery and very airy, I never tried it again,"Mara Jones, a 26- year-old model, told Xinhua while sipping a paper cup of Mocha before going to an early morning session in a gym. "The Australians have a picky taste for coffee and if you don' t deliver, even Starbucks would fail,"she added. "And it's just not healthy, they added lots of syrup and full cream to blow your mind; it's artificial and it will give you extra weight,"another girl in bright gym suit said.
Besides the taste and artificial flavor, others think that Starbucks failed to blend into the local coffee culture.
"From where I sit, the genuine Australian coffee culture is that you take care of your own coffee, it's very personal, but Starbucks failed to tap into that, it reminds me of fast food like McDonald's,"Jeremy Benedict, 30, who works in a local bank, said while drinking his brew from a local coffee shop.
"Starbucks doesn't offer flat white -- a coffee beverage developed in Australia and New Zealand in the 1980s and prepared by pouring micro foam over a double shot of espresso -- and they call the long black the Americano, that's really funny,"Benedict said sarcastically.
Benedict said that he drinks black coffee as part of his morning routine before going to work. "A great day starts with a perfectly brewed cup of black coffee. This sounds like advertising but it's true for me. Coffee matters a great deal in my life, it enlightens the day, it gives me the drive to go on, it comforts and puts me into good mood when I'm exhausted,"Benedict said.
As to Starbucks'success in China, especially among the young generation, Benedict said the young Chinese coffee drinkers could have been carried by Starbucks' promotional campaign and the temptation to follow the celebrities was just too strong to resist.
"I've noticed from the lavender bear which sells like crazy after some Chinese celebrities tweeted pictures cuddling them on Weibo. I've been asked to find this Bobbie bear ever since then by a dozen of my Chinese friends, until it was banned to be imported to China," he said.
Benedict said celebrity charm doesn't work in Australia."A famous person holding a cup of Starbucks doesn't get that much attention here. Know your coffee and enjoy it. Others don't matter,"he said.
Thanks to the Italian immigrants and the coffee culture they brought to Australia, the local people have cultivated an exquisite taste for coffee. The Australians have been indulging themselves with the most delicate coffee taste for decades.
On Lygon Street in Melbourne, small to medium sized coffee stores run by the second or third generation of Italian immigrants can be seen almost at every corner. "The most important thing for a great cup of coffee is the smoothies and the flavor,"sai dAntonio, a coffee store owner. "It should be elegant, classy and exceptional,"Antonio said." My coffee makes my customers keep coming back, and not because of anything else."
No doubt Australian coffee-lovers will hold their high standard and demand the best quality from any outsiders that want to enter this market. "My grandma told me that life is just too short to drink bad coffee,"said an old customer sitting in the corner enjoying his steaming cup of strong Italian coffee.