There's a good chance that the java you drank this morning was not quite all-American. Korean coffee chains have been ramping up their efforts to expand in the U.S. market, threatening to give the coffee industry a bit more than a morning jolt.
Korean coffee heavyweights such as Caffe Bene and Paris Baguette first started setting up shop in the U.S. almost decade ago, but they are just now beginning truly to take hold of the American market—and American taste buds.
In the U.S., Caffe Bene and Paris Baguette currently operate 50 and 37 cafes, respectively, mainly on the East and West coasts near major cities like New York and Los Angeles. Tous les Jours, a French-Asian bakery, has a respectable 31 stores across the country, including four across Georgia. Another major Korean chain, Tom N Toms Coffee has just 10 stores, all in Southern California.
That's well over 100 Korean coffee shops across the country—an impressive number considering that other foreign imports, such as Israel's Aroma Espresso Bar haven't fared as well. What appears to be making these Korean coffee shops so successful, for starters, is that they're not all that Asian.
"The brand proposition that they're offering has a very American feel to it, which makes it very easy for the American consumer to accept," said Andrew Hetzel, coffee industry specialist and owner of Cafemakers, a coffee consulting firm.