Korean Coffee Craze on the Rise, Thanks to Starbucks

Starbucks' plans to expand in Asia means coffee prices (and coffee shop numbers) are climbing

Coffee prices in South Korea are on the rise.

Imagine a time when a cup of coffee cost $0.50. That was a pre-Starbucks era, apparently.

Reuters reports that South Korea is having a coffee renaissance of sorts, with the number of coffee shops multiplying by 10 in five years to 12,381. Of course, since demand for good coffee has increased over time, prices are going up. This, in large part, has to do with Starbucks' pricey presence in the country.

"I am very grateful to Starbucks," coffeeshop owner Yeo Seon-koo told Reuters. "Koreans were previously used to spending 300 won [$0.27] for a cup of coffee, but Starbucks has made them willing to pay nearly 5,000 won [$4.42], whether they like it or not." Thanks, gigantic coffee corporations.

In fact, Starbucks, and coffee in general, will be even more prolific in the future; the company just announced their plans to launch 500 stores in Asia (half of those in China). South Korean adults drank 338 cups of coffee last year, while coffee imports grew to 130,000 tons in the past four years (a 44 percent increase). Yet while it may be easier to find a cup of Joe in South Korea nowadays, in some places a cup can cost more than a meal, Reuters says. Yikes.

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(Photo Starbucks Coffee Modified: Flickr/Jrwooley6/CC 4.0)