According to history, coffee drinking first made its appearance in the middle of the 15th century in the Sufi shrines of Mocha, Yemen. Back then, coffee was usually consumed during religious ceremonies and it was here that coffee seeds were first brewed and roasted. As the beans travelled to the far reaches of the world, coffee drinking became a culture and coffee shops everywhere evolved into social hubs.

Today coffee is arguably the most sought after commodity after crude oil with a reported worth of $100 billion worldwide.

Coffee drinking these days is not just about what goes in the cup; it’s also about what goes on outside of it. Coffee shops have long been used as a locale or setting where ideas have been mooted, businesses have been clinched and in the case of the Boston Tea Party; a revolution was planned.

Perhaps there’s something about the ambience of a coffee shop that draws people.

Or is it in the beans?

In Asia, coffee consumption has experienced dynamic growth by an average of 4% annually since 1990. The International Coffee Organization report states that since 2000, the figure has even risen higher to 4.9%. If you take into consideration Asia’s population figures, those are impressive statistics. Coffee drinking has indeed swept across Asia.

In Singapore for example, there are apparently more coffee shops than bars and it’s not unusual to find them packed with customers even at midnight.

This trend can also be seen across the region from Malaysia to Thailand and China to India.

In China, where tea drinking dates as far back as the 3rd century and has since been the dominant beverage, the number of coffee houses has recently nearly doubled to over 31,000.

Though the numbers of tea houses are still more than that of coffee shops, they’ve only experienced a growth of a mere 4% in comparison. What’s really interesting is that China embraces and adores the coffee culture but not so much the taste of the coffee itself. This throws the beans hypothesis out of the window.

Indeed, hanging out at coffee shops or cafés these days is considered the norm in Asia which renders the business of coffee shop a serious business. In Singapore, the business is so competitive that smaller coffee shops have included local twists to their menu to snag a share of the market and keep up with the big boys.

A search and click on the internet will give you an idea as to the number of coffee shops and cafés present in Singapore. Blogs with enticing titles like “20 Cafés to visit in Singapore” and others, it’s not hard to fathom why café culture is big in Singapore.

The trend of hanging out at coffee shops especially amongst the youth of Asia is undoubtedly prevalent throughout the region. If you consider a United Nations ESCAP statement that the Asia-Pacific region constitutes 60% of the world’s youth population, that’s a healthy potential market opportunity for businesses.

Whether it’s the result of social or media influence (or even the coffee beans), coffee drinking and coffee culture is a thriving business in Asia. It’s not only about what goes into the cup but also other equally important factors such as the ambience and perhaps the most important of all, service. Achieving the right balance in your coffee shop business is akin to brewing the perfect blend. A perfect cuppa engages and ultimately can ensure healthy repeat patronage.

Now that’s a perfect cup for your business success.

Written for Consumer Strategist

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