China’s competitive coffee shop scene keeps owners on their toes

Jazz music emanates from a store with elegant wooden panelling and leather seats on Hunan Road in Shanghai’s French Concession. It’s easy to mistake this location for a bar. Rumors Coffee, a high-end coffee business, now occupies the space.

Rumors co-owner Keiichi Nakayama from Japan remarked, “When we initially opened shop 11 years ago, we were the only ones who specialised in hand-poured coffee.” “We eventually saw that other shops were charging the same price for their coffee as we were.”

According to his wife, Liu Yan, who also co-owns the business, other coffee shops seek to replicate more than just their price. “A few company owners brought in their own designers and began covertly measuring the bar counter. “Our menus were taken,” she explained. “Customers informed us that our name was being used by a coffee training school.”

Coffee shops are a competitive industry. During the COVID-19 epidemic, things grew much worse.

According to a research conducted by China’s Tsinghua University, over 19 percent of small and micro-sized enterprises closed their doors last year, compared to 6.6 percent in 2019.

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