SCMP Friday, October 5, 2001

McDonald's wakes up to coffee culture


McDonald's is muscling in on coffee culture with the opening of its first Grab N Go outlet in Hong Kong.
The company yesterday entered the caffeine war with the opening of its new store in Hoi Wan Street, Quarry Bay, directly opposite two Pacific Coffee Company outlets and only three blocks away from the nearest Starbucks.
Prices at the golden arches are cheaper - $10 for a cup of freshly brewed coffee compared to $14 for the same size at Pacific Coffee Company.
A McDonald's staff member said the store was part of a trial which, if successful, would be introduced at other locations in Hong Kong.
"We have had a good response from customers today. This area was chosen for the trial because there are many office workers who like coffee," he said.
Staff were handing out free coffee vouchers in a bid to corner the market.
A statement from the company said the new concept would cater to Hong Kong's "cosmopolitan tastes and the expectations of different customers".
"It aims to offer more convenience to customers and provide more food variety. The concept is perfect for today's busy urban lifestyle and the extraordinary fast pace."
The statement also said the menu would be added to, with specialised "upmarket" sandwiches such as foccacia and ciabatta.
The outlet has separate counters for sandwiches, muffins and coffee.
Starbucks refused to comment yesterday and Pacific Coffee Company was not available to comment.
Pacific Coffee Company was the first to enter the Hong Kong market in 1993. It continued to dominate it with 19 outlets until last year, when Seattle-based Starbucks began to offer serious competition by forming a joint venture with local fast food chain Maxims Caterers. Starbucks now has 18 outlets. Both have Internet access and sell their own blends of beans.
A University of Hong Kong survey conducted last year found coffee and tea were the most popular drinks in the SAR after water.
The survey found a marked increase in the intake of coffee and tea, with 60 per cent drinking them every day, up from 48 per cent in 1998.
A growing number of the 596 people interviewed also said they were daily drinkers of coffee, tea, alcoholic drinks, milk, bottled water and tap water.