Pudong Starbucks is Nice

My favorite place to meet in the last two months in Shanghai shte the Starbucks at the Pudong side of the Bund, or typically refered to as Binjiang Store.

Origional posted at Starbucks in A Day

It is a nice place for both people in Pudong and Puxi to meet. Typically, my meetings with IT related people are arranged around 8:00 PM in this Starbucks. Everytime friends from other cities comes, no matter he is VP of QQ, or journalists from Beijing, or CEO from websites, we simply drop a SMS to the friend circle of IT in Shanghai and say: come and visit. The same time, same place, and people have formed the idea that it will be this Binjing Starbucks, at 8:00 PM that night. :-) For example, I spent wonderful afternoon with Dave, President of eTang there this Sunday afternoon.

This Starbucks has the best view in Shanghai – not every Starbucks has wide view to the Huang Pu river. Watching big ships moving slowly along the river with old architects on the Bund is nice experience. The view also inspires people’s thinking a lot – when we see moving objects, espectially those very big one like ship, our thoughts are typically running faster.

I would recommend people to choose this Starbucks as the next gather place..

37 Comments

  1. I can’t help making a comment here: What is the big deal of Starbucks?

    Here in Canada (dont know if it’s the same in the States), Starbucks, the Second Cup, or any coffee shops are just a space to hang out with a friend or read newspaper or a chapter along with a cup of coffee. It’s never for business meetings or any group, social gatherings.

  2. In response to Jennifer’s comment, I think it may have to do with a difference of culture or perhaps because Starbucks is the new thing there. Here in the liberal area of California, people actually prefer to go to independent cafes to study and socialize rather than the “greedy corporate” Starbucks. It’s no surprise to see a petition here to protest the non-stop building of a new Starbucks in certain neighborhoods such as “little Osaka” Town in San Francisco.

    I personally don’t mind Starbucks too much… they have good drinks and they’re convenient.

  3. As a native Chinese living in Australia, I think I understand why so many Chinese people rave about Starbucks. “Starbucks” in China is not just a place to have coffee, it is also a concept of trend and fasion;It is a place to see and to be seen and even a place of success. These “odd” associations with Starbucks are all thanks to its being overpriced and occuping nice scenary spots.

    In Australia,local coffee shops are everywhere and they provide nice coffee and nice environment with reasonable prices. So people don’t have to go to Starbucks to have a coffee or have a meeting because they have lots of options. However, there are not many alternative coffee shops in China and there are not many proper places to have a meeting outside offices. Starbucks happens to be able to provide the proper environment for young and modern businesspeople to have a meeting. That’s why it is so popular in China.

    I personally prefer my local coffee shop to Starbucks.

  4. jianshuo,

    my first blog comment, feel how it feels.

    dave

  5. Could it be about the tangible international atmosphere? In most of the Starbucks cafe’s in Shanghai it’s more than likely that there are also non-Chinese customers. Even if there isn’t any at the moment, there are known to be them every now and then. That, although it’s not very expensive place for the Shanghai middle-class, helps increasing one’s clout (at least the perceivable clout, at least temporarily). Would it be about the remnants of the “affording to go to places like that”?

    Or maybe you feels the “must to go” there because your competitors also go there – the ones with whom you are competing about jobs, relationships, business, guanxi, or other; i.e. it’s the place to be if you want to belong to a certain group; in other words: it is in fashion.

    And why the foreigners go there? As with McD or KFC, they can be pretty sure they get the same taste these joints serve also in other countries, they know the routine, and in Starbucks the salespersons do speak English quite well. It’s clean. They have nice chairs and magazines and it’s good place to gather for chatting. It’s a cafe where you can be casual and relax – not a formal restaurant where a waitress peeks over every other second to change your plate or fill your glass.

    Imagine you are a businessman and really novice with the places you travel, and you don’t know anyone there. You get bored with the stuff in your hotel, so you start getting around a little bit, probing the alien world (Shanghai) from your little escape pod (Starbucks) and building some courage there to take the next step – to go to some Chinese restaurant accross the street the next day, for example.

    Plus of course, some have developed themselves a habit of really liking coffee, comparing different coffee drinks, etc. Never mind the clout. Many prefer going to Starbucks instead of the many local or regional versions, such as the SPR Coffee or DIO Coffee – which are similar to some extent, but also serve some chinese food and aren’t even close with the quality of coffee. If you drink coffee more than once a week, the taste really matters :-)

  6. As a Chinese, I understand the “new culture” described in Sabrina and Steve’s comments. What I DON’T understand is why it is that easy for foreign brands, like Starbuck or Ikea, to make Chinese mid-class’ money. I saw a Haggen-Dazs store at Wangfujing. In BJ airport, a 80g Haggen-Dazs ice cream is priced for $35! I feel “thankful” for being able to pay CDN 5 to enjoy a 500ml pack of such “high-end” ice cream in my cozy apartment. : )

  7. Starbucks is a novelty in China at present and that’s why people like to be seen there. It’s way overpriced, in my opinion, for what they are offering. I prefer the traditional tea houses – more character and a sense of zen and quietness.

  8. Ikea is not a high-end, but one colleague bought a glass bottle there which is more than 3 times expensive than Golden Five Star :), consuming rationally is good.

    我爱北京金五星

    我最近在马甸的IKEA买了一个玻璃罐子,天价29.00。之后跑到金五星,发现一模一样的罐子一只,老板开价10块,没费什么口舌就降到8块–还不到IKEA的三分之一。我满怀悲愤地kao这个伤天害理的宜家啊!

    我就说一句:谁在IKEA买东西,如果不是钱撑的,那就是脑子里有包包里有水–我认识的人里头,还没发现有谁让钱撑的五脊六兽的。

    虽然我们家亲戚和我的朋友没有任何人在金五星摆摊儿,但是我还是要说,金五星,如同dongdong所说,作为传说中asia-pacific region最大型的民间自由shopping mall,那商品真是,琳琅满目应有尽有品牌齐全质量过硬型号齐全价钱公道童叟无欺人间美味肥而不腻入口即化欺霜赛雪吹弹可破啊!(阅读上面一段话的时候,中气不足的朋友注意断句,一口气读不上来缓不过气导致寿终正寝的朋友,可别找我算账。)

    o. 金五星,今天你去了没有?

    o. 今年过年不买东西,买东西就去金五星。

    o. 记住这颗星,价廉物美有保证。

    o. 买东西必去金五星,金五星必有你想买的东西。

    o. 金五星购物,不走寻常路。

    o. 金五星恒久远,一颗永流传。

    o. The choice of a new generation.

    o. 金五星,给商品一个低廉的价钱。

    o. 当代亚太,商品交易市场第一名是金五星、第二名是金五星、第三名还是金五星。

    o. 吾生也有涯,金五星无涯。

    o. 人类失去金五星,世界将会怎样?

    o. Ask for more.

    o. Just buy it.

    o. 现在,我们买东西居然可以去金五星了,则普天之下的人民,其欣喜为何如?

    o. “我就一次买东西没去金五星,这个事儿让大家知道以后是不是我就活不了了,就已经是tmd身败名裂了?有这么狠吗?”

    o. “你说我除了金五星还有十个八个买东西的商场,在哪儿呢?有了金五星,我还去别的商场干嘛呀!我忙得过来么?我就是一天逛一个,我十天转一圈儿呢,才!”

  9. Overprized? Yes of course. When there is not much competition, and when the occupancy is good enough, there’s no need to compete with price. Why places like Häagen-Dazs are expensive in China? I think China has quite big import tax for dairy products: just go to Carrefour, for example, and check the prices of imported cheese and butter; some of them cost 2…6 times more than in wherever they were imported from.

  10. Häagen-Dazs sold in China were home-made in local factories…

  11. I think that Starbucks and similar multi national franchises that consider themselves to be `Up Market’ can charge what they want for products because of their market position, and the fact that so many people continue to go there.

    Starbucks is overpriced, there is no doubt. The food cost for the coffee itself is around US15 cents, the milk around 15 – 30 cents (depending on the type and size of the coffee) and the paper cost (cup, lid, holder) would come to about 35 cents (yes – the packaging costs more than the food!) – gives a total of say 80 cents tops, then they charge $3 or $4. Thats a good business.

    Although the price is high, obviously the price is not too high, because people keep going back there for coffee. Go to any Starbucks and see the number of people inside – that will show you that the price is not too high.

    The factor that does contribute to their high pricing is their high overheads. To deliver you a hot cup of coffee in the right location (convenient to you) means they pay a premium for the rent (to get the best loaction possible). Plus they have quality equipment, well trained staff (well, most of the time), a big head office etc etc – all the things you don’t have in a small cafe or tea house that increase the operating cost.

    As for China, as John said, there is not much competetion but a lot of people. With the new found wealth of a lot of people and a growing middle class, their is an increasing disposable income which allows people to do things they (and previous generations) may not have previously had the chance to do. Some of those things are to emulate what is seen from the west, and as many movies/TV shows show people meeting in and visiting Starbucks – that is adopted as part of the western culture.

    So I think that for many people in China and other parts of the world, Starbucks is a status symbol of a young, wealthy generation.

  12. Sometime overprized is tactic, and it’s worked!

    Marketing strategy like this can make you feel so proud to be new generation who have hi-society life style.

    But I get Mr. Wang’s point, it’s individual opinion from different point of view.

    The way you think show The way who you are.

    And I like that view.

  13. It is very common people are gradually going for material wealth and show off their socio-economic status in a “foreign” environment like Starbucks, esp. in a fast-changing city like Shanghai. The face of Shanghai has changed so much so that you feel you are way behind the times if you don’t go out and see things every few days. I have no problem with Wang’s preference with Starbucks. The thing is…. Most people in Shanghai need to think twice to go to Starbucks to have a cup of coffee. In Shanghai, these foreign food or coffee shops are considered very high-class or something. But you see the crowd, right? In his novel (THE BESIEGED weicheng) Qian Zhongshu said Fang Hongjian detested the urbanization of rural areas. And in some ways, Shanghai people give too much credit to the foreign brands and they got to pay more money. I have only been to a few countries in Southeast Asia. Take Singapore for example, they have these Kopitians or local coffee shops that are reasonably priced and the atmosphere makes you want to stay longer there. Are there many good and cheap coffee shops for ordinary working class people? No. You might argue that there are many tea-houses. But they are for lovebirds mainly and you go into any of them, you are like watching a live video of love-making…. You see we are still a long long way from building a healthy attitude towards daily consumption.

  14. Having said all that, I begin to look at the things I am using: (1)- IPOD, (2) IBM notebook (3) Sony DSCP150 digital camera, (4) JBL speakers, (5) Avance stereo system. Not that I don’t like to buy domestic products, it is just that domestic products often have terrible after-sale services and I am still not that sure of their quality…. So you see it is easy to point your finger at others and say this is wrong….

  15. I was wondering when any of you in the starbucks in shanghai last time if you saw any ‘cool’ gentlement/lady ocupies a best seat (by the window usually) and kind of thinking and working on the laptop computer, look very involved. and s/he usually sits there for hours or whole afternoon with a tiny sip every once a while of an already cold coffee. I saw people like that quite often. i bet those people are really, really think starbucks are a type of fashion, and being in starbucks brings him/her honour.

  16. I’ve seen those pictures. It’s miserable without saying. I admire the gentleman in the picture. But who can help?

  17. It’s over, US is taking over China…Starbucks, KFC, McD, what’s next? Sonics drive thru? Already Chinese women want to be white and marry foreigners, as many of the Asian Americans do in the US…I’m being sarcastic here, Starbucks is a trend, it’s popular in Japan as well, a huge tea drinking society..what people need is change, especially young people, hence Starbucks provided the branding, the atmosphere, etc. Personally, Coffee Bean tastes a lot better, and the best coffee is gotaa be Dunkin Donuts.

  18. Hi Jianshuo, this looks like the Starbucks which i saw from the night ferry i took on the HuangPu River last year! the sight (of a Starbucks by the river) was stunning to me too! :)

  19. separately, on the topic of coffee available in Singapore (although i’m not a fan of it :), mediaspin is correct to point out that there are many much cheaper alternatives here. For instance, a cup of plain kopi-o (local term for black coffee with no sugar/cream) in a coffeeshop or hawker centre is unlikely to cost you around S$0.60-0.80(?) whereas a cup of iced coffee at Starbucks, Coffee Bean, Spinelli (and etc) would cost at least S$4-5.

    i vaguely remember that when the concept of coffee houses such as Starbucks began in Singapore several years ago, the coffeeshops decided to create their own forms of coffee beverages which were available at such coffeehouses.

    anyway, the question remains- why does the price of a cup of coffee differ so much? could it be:

    1) the environment (e.g. air-conditioned seating areas)

    2) better quality coffee beans

    3) that you pay so much so that you can sit as long as you want

    4) ????

  20. Fei, that is right…. When I was doing my M.A. at NTU a cup of coffee on campus costs only $0.3 -1.2. I enjoy a cup of coffee in the afternoon ther in the cafeteria and the coffee tastes pretty good. I have friends who are going back to NTU this July. I want to go too but I got other plans too. I miss the cool clean running water on campus (I haven’t seen these water cooler systems here in China). And NTU has the best wireless learning hub (I have ever seen). I heard that Beijing University and Tsinghua University are going wireless too. Good news for the college kids.

  21. Nowadays, university kids have this and that all those high-end high tech stuff, and coffee and Starbuck is so fashionable. Nobody seems to care what’s going on in that poor remote miserable area. This is what so called life has to go on.

  22. Rachel Mitchell

    July 13, 2005 at 12:46 am

    I’m a chinese,born and grow up in China.My husband is american and we travelled alot and I have been to about 30 countries and we have been in Germany for four years.from my life experiences in both westen and oriential countries I think it’s not fair to judge others because we are born,educated and grow up in different cultures.from the same window you can see totally different things, it depends on which side of the window do you stand.

    I appreciate Jianshuo share his personal experiences and thoughts with us and give us all this opportunity to learn about other peoples thoughts about some interesting topics.

  23. I haven’t been back to China for more than 8 years. But I saw really nice tea houses in the Chinese DVDs. And I really want to visit some of them when I go back.

    If this website is to help foreigners to know Shanghai better, then few people outside China care anything about Starbucks coffee shops. Even though it may mean so much for some local middle class Xiaozi. Starbucks is to go coffee with paper containers. I guess it was designed for people to sip coffee while they are driving to work. A real coffee lover knows how important coffee mugs are.

    I bet Starbucks was honored to gain such a high class reputation in China with total surprise.

  24. I haven’t been back to China for more than 8 years. But I saw really nice tea houses in the Chinese DVDs. And I really want to visit some of them when I go back.

    If this website is to help foreigners to know Shanghai better, then few people outside China care anything about Starbucks coffee shops. Even though it may mean so much for some local middle class Xiaozi. Starbucks is to go coffee with paper containers. I guess it was designed for people to sip coffee while they are driving to work. A real coffee lover knows how important coffee mugs are.

    I bet Starbucks was honored to gain such a high class reputation in China with total surprise.

  25. If you would like to see some more information about the history of coffee in China – have a look here: http://madaboutshanghai.blogs.com/mad_about_shanghai/china_in_general/index.html

  26. It’s funny to see the many comments about Starbucks itself, the import of American products/culture etc. It’s not about that. You go there for the view. You pay 12 kuai for a “coffee of the day” and you see ships in all sizes sail by while you talk with friends. Look a bit further, just behind the ships, and you’ll see the Bund.

  27. its office space for rent by the cup

  28. David Johnston in Victoria said I should look at this. So I did.

  29. Starbucks should be a good place for meet-up as they are located at prime areas or landmark buildings in most of the cases. But I also find that many starbucks are often too crowded and very noisy that make me feel quite uncomfortable to spend even a short while there. There is however one starbucks at Jiang Lin Tian Xia of Pudong, where I think is pretty good for chit-chat. I will also recommend element fresh at portman hotel, and backyard cafe at 8th bridge. I hope in some days more competitors will come in Shanghai to give us more choices…

  30. Quite absurd for foreigners to come to Shanghai and congrgate at Starbucks.

    There should be a strong latent demand for traditional Chinese tea houses. Too few of those in Shanghai. :(

  31. The best thing about Starbucks in Shanghai, and any Starbucks around the world, is that even if it is completely full, you can bring a book, a laptop computer, or work you need to do, and sit for hours with out being hassled, as long as you buy a drink. There are few places in Shanghai where you can do that, and so when I was still living in China, Starbucks was a great place for me to do work outside of the office or to work on my graduate school applications. (Though the beautiful Old China Hand Reading Room on Shaoxing Road, is a pleasant exception.)

  32. hi all,

    is hot chocolate something that is popular in china? would you prefer to go to a starbucks or a Dio coffee for it?

    thanks.

  33. I am a young American businessman, and I work for a coffee house that competes with Starbucks in the US. The founders of the company are Chinese Americans, and they have been considering opening one of our café in Shanghai or Shenzhen. Our design and products have a distinct Chinese/Asian influence, with a definite American feel.

    As we try to evaluate coming to China, we want to know if people would come to our café. Do you think the Chinese market would embrace a coffee house with both Chinese and American roots? Please post any thoughts you have.

    Thanks!

    http://www.SweetwatersCafe.com

  34. starbucks sucks.coffee bean is way better.starbucks coffee is very expensive.taste like poo too.the service sucks too.coffee bean is magnificent.carsten-are you the same guy from wft?do danish speaks german?

  35. Hi Wang Jian Shuo,

    I NEVER drink coffee at Starbucks, they’re expensive and I hate their business practices. I’m currently a British-American living in Bangkok, Thailand. We have Starbucks EVERYWHERE – there are FOUR of them within less than a mile of my house!! And they’re packed with Thais (god knows, how they afford the coffee there as the average Thai salary is less than $150 a month!)

    I specifically won’t purchase anything at Starbucks though because of their business practices. In the US (and here in Thailand) they deliberately target areas where there are independently-owned coffee shops and then do everything they can to try to close them down. In Santa Monica, CA, where I used to live – Starbucks has recently bought out two smaller coffee companies and then closed down all their stores, to stop the competition.

    I’ll walk a mile in Bangkok heat before I’ll buy a latte at Starbucks. They’re a socially-irresponsible company as far as I’m concerned! They’re also expensive nd they rip-off local coffee growers. Liars, cheats and thieves, IMO.

  36. The ONLY reason I go to a Starbucks is because: 1) It’s just a damn fine cup of coffee. Every time.

  37. I always meet my friends at tea shop, it is very nice for us to talk, no so much noise, I like that. I dont drink coffee, oh, I remembered a FUNNY STORY when my frist time drink coffee, it happend on 2007 Chinese new year, I was on the airplane going to Philippines(philippines airlines), after lunch, an airline hostess asked me what I want to drink, I can’t spkeak english totally, but I know the english word “coffee”, then I say”cafei”, then she poured one cup for me and saying something, I don’t understand, I just say no…afterwards, I know, she was asking me if I want some sugar and milk, because the coffee is too bitter…when she come back, I stopped here and asked for some sugar, she was smiling, but my face turned red…

    Hope you can understand my english.

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