S. Koreans show lukewarm reaction to U.S. specialty coffee brand Blue Bottle

Park Sae-jin Reporter Posted : 2018-11-07 15:11 Updated : 2018-11-07 15:39
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[Courtesy of Blue Bottle]

SEOUL -- South Korean consumers showed a lukewarm attitude at a foray by American specialty coffee brand Blue Bottle into the saturated domestic market where competition is fierce among tens of thousands of coffee shops.

Blue Bottle will open its first store in the second quarter of 2019 in the Seongsu district, a rising hipster spot in eastern Seoul, which has gained popularity among young people for unique coffee shops and hand-made shoes.

The Oakland-based coffee roaster and retailer, which has 56 coffee shops in the United States and 10 in Japan, has built its reputation as the "Apple of coffee industry" among young South Koreans for its unique coffee menu and the minimalistic design of products and shops.

The reaction of South Koreans who live in a country with an estimate of 58,000 coffee shops nationwide, was not so enthusiastic, although some welcomed it.

"The Blue Bottle store in Seoul will attract a lot of curious coffee fans," Cha Ho-seon, a 35-year-old importer, told Aju News. However, she said she is not sure whether the American coffee brand will be successful because some coffee menus have strong bitterness and sourness.
"I think Blue Bottle will turn out to be the same with other foreign franchises," Gani, a user from South Korea's online community Clien, wrote, adding that coffee fans are certain to try Blue Bottle coffees but they would soon lose interest within a few months.

Another user named Bindoongi expressed anticipation: "I would love to visit the store. It would be a great Instagram spot."