Recently more and more coffee shops in Korea are starting to put premium quality coffee on the menu, in order to stand out from the increasingly large crowd of other coffee shops in the nation.
The strategy behind it is distinction, attracting coffee maniacs with luxurious interior décor and top-notch coffee, to move them away from the ever-spawning petty coffee shops that sell coffee with low-grade beans.
According to an industry source on April 23, the second and third Café Kona Queens will open soon. Kona beans, originating from Hawaii, are noted as one of the top three coffee beans in the world. The coffee shop is selling hand-dripped coffee made from 100 percent Kona beans. This premium coffee is being sold for 11,000 won per cup, double or even triple the price of most cups of coffee in Korea. In return, Café Kona Queens offers customers a luxurious interior and a guarantee of the best taste.
Foreign branded coffee shops are no exception to this competitive market. IN March, Starbucks introduced single origin premium coffee Starbucks Reserve in five of its shops in Korea. Starbucks Reserve coffee is made from high-quality “reserve” beans and a clover coffee extraction system. The Starbucks Reserve is only available to select countries including the US, UK, and Japan.
Starbucks’ premium bean coffees introduced to Korea are “Finca Nuevo Mexico” and “Sun Dried Ethiopia Yirgacheffe,” a tall size priced at 6,000 won for the former and 7,000 won for the latter, both of which are more than twice the price of the “Pick of the Day."
Café Italia, famous for having captured the taste of 100-year-old Italian espresso, launched its business in Korea last month as well. Café Italia is a premium coffee brand, the beans of which are used by world-famous barista Emiliano and blended directly in Italy.
With its ambition to introduce the best-quality coffee from Italy, Café Italia launched its operation in Korea, promoting its slogan “My Home Barista." The Italian brand plans to sell not only coffee machines and capsule coffee, but also coffee bags and manual coffee brewers, to provide its unique services any time and place for coffee maniacs.
Juan Valdez, a premium coffee brand from Colombia, also opened its first café in Dongdaemum Design Plaza in Seoul last month. Juan Valdez is a premium coffee brand which was created by the Colombia Coffee Growers Federation (Federacion de Cafeteros, FNC) consisting of about 500,000 coffee farmers. The Financial Times chose the brand as the “Best Consumer Brand of 21st Century.”
Tom N Toms also opened “Calypso," a specialty café targeted at coffee maniacs, in May 2013, and started to sell its premium “Single Origin Coffee.” Droptop, a franchise coffee shop, just began to sell a premium desert menu this month with Fauchon, a 130-year old French bakery known as one of the top food brands.