Korean coffee brands shift focus to overseas markets amid intense domestic competition

By Kim Joo-heon Posted : April 4, 2024, 16:04 Updated : April 10, 2024, 10:58
Getty Images Bank
[Getty Images Bank]

SEOUL, April 04 (AJU PRESS) - South Korean coffee brands are setting their sights on overseas markets as competition intensifies at home. This comes as foreign coffee chains like Canadian giant Tim Hortons, which opened its first Seoul store in December 2023 and plans 150 by 2028, and U.S.-based Intelligentsia Coffee, launched in February 2024, enter the South Korean market.

The domestic market is indeed saturated. According to market research firm Euromonitor, South Korea's annual per capita coffee consumption in 2023 was 405 cups, more than double the global average of 152. Data from the National Tax Service shows the number of coffee shops in South Korea reached a staggering 96,386 in August 2023, a 20.3 percent increase from 2021. However, around 12,000 shops closed their doors in 2023.

In response, South Korean coffee brands are brewing international expansion plans. Hollys Coffee, a major player domestically, announced its first overseas store opening in Osaka, Japan, in the first half of 2024. The coffee chain targets Japan, the world's fourth-largest coffee consumer, capitalizing on the rising popularity of Korean-style cafes and desserts among young people, fueled by the global Hallyu phenomenon.

Ediya, another major brand, launched its first overseas franchise in Guam in December 2023 and aims for further expansion in the U.S. and Southeast Asia. Compose Coffee joined the movement with a store opening in Singapore in September 2023.

South Korea's burgeoning coffee culture is further highlighted by Busan's hosting of the prestigious World Barista Championship from May 1 to 4, 2024. Sixty baristas will compete, creating espresso and milk-based drinks for a global judging panel. With its unique coffee shop scene, Busan aspires to become a global coffee hub.
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