Poland: Starbuck’s American dream is here

from correspondent Elisabetta Wierzchowska *

The first Starbucks venue was inaugurated on one of Warsaw’s main streets on 8th April soon followed, on 17th April, by the second premises in Wroclaw, a city with 640,000 inhabitants situated in south-west Poland. Both coffee shops were crammed straight away, mainly by school students who associate Strabuck’s image to the fulfilment of their American dream.

The interviews clearly indicate that youths consider the Seattle based chain as a positive sign of globalization. Many of them crowd the venue because, as they declare, they have already experienced Starbuks during trips abroad to Spain and Great Britain. The image of these youngsters queuing in front of the premises brings back memories of communist days, when shops supplies run short, even primary goods. While nowadays young people patiently wait for their turn to get hold of a cup featuring the famous Starbucks logo.

Very interesting is the sensory assessment, given by the young customers, comparing Starbuck’s products to those of Coffee Heaven, number one Polish chain in the country, launched in 2000 and now boasting 86 venues located throughout Poland and other Central European countries.

The boys and girls that took part in the interview declared they prefer Starbucks rather than Coffee Heaven because it is "better, less adulterated, more genuine, and you can taste more coffee in the coffee". The young consumers also appreciate the fact that coffee is served in a china cup, and not in a paper one  as usual happens in many Coffee Heaven cafés, because it makes them feel more comfortable and at home.

A main feature to bear in mind to understand why youths prefer Starbucks involves their habit of drinking coffee with 30, or even 40, cl of milk.  At Starbuks’ you can choose your favourite milk from a selection: from skimmed to soya. Such a broad range is assessed very positively by young consumers as they like accompanying their favourite drink with milk as well as with syrup, mainly caramel.

And what about espresso? They declare they drink it only when it is essential to stay awake, just on special occasions…Much better a coffee with ice-cream or the big favourite, American coffee. In other words, young Polish generations enjoy their coffee with plenty of milk and syrup, the coffee type which was launched by Coffee Heaven over the last years and that could now be affected by Starbuck’s competition.

* Elisabetta Wierzchowska is a biologist fond of Italy and of its life style.  In 1996 she set up a venue with her husband. In 2006 she started to import and distribute Italian coffee, with the aim of divulging our country’s culture in Poland. She is also a taster for the International Institute of Coffee Tasters, an Espresso Italiano Specialist and a sensory analysis panel leader.

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