Hot Coffee.

I have been watching the steady growth in coffee shops in this country over the past few years with some interest. I do like a good cup of Java and when I first came to these shores 20 years ago it was a hard thing to find. Even today you will be lucky to do better than a sachet of Nescafe Instant, a sachet of creamer and a small cup of tepid water. Why the dumb mongrels don’t put the coffee in to the cup before filling it with water beats me! At least then it would have a chance to blend properly but why am I expecting western standards of civilised behaviour from someone who has never been exposed to such?

The reality is that Filipino’s enjoy a decent cup of coffee too, although maybe more for the fact it sends a message of affluence to others rather than the taste of the brew. At P50-60 and up (my café latte grande is a P100 cup of coffee) not every Dong and Dai out there is rushing to Starbucks, although more than enough are and new stores open all the time.

As well as Starbucks, there are Bo’s Coffee Clubs, Figaro, Seattle’s Best, Moccha Blend, Gloria Jean’s, Coffee Beanery and maybe four or five other franchises to choose from if you want to go into the coffee shop business. They all follow a similar theme, started by Starbucks back in the early eighties and itself modelled on the espresso bars of Italy, relaxed, casual and expensive! I wonder if the first recorded coffee shop, “Kiva Han” in Turkey in 1421 offered a mocchalatte or a frappucino?

In upscale areas they are everywhere and growing. It really is a market niche oriented business, you need lots of A, B and C class Filipino’s willing to spend relatively big money on a drink they really don’t need to get through their day with. At least not the fancy version on offer. Of course most places actually sell more iced drinks than hot versions, although this it is so cute to see Filipino’s wearing coats and jackets and sitting in the (still steamy for me) evening sipping hot coffee and pretending it is cold this time of year.

A decent coffee shop franchise will set you back around P2 million and up. You could get away with less but more will usually be needed. The way things are going though, it looks like a way to print money only a McDonalds franchise could beat. Or a Jollibee!