In Specialty Coffee Retailer Magazine’s Ten Trends for 2010 this August, my comments on overseas expansion of the specialty coffee industry have ranked an impressive E-L-E-V-E-N. Rock on!

Coffee Trend #11 for 2010

“The majority of our company’s work has come from Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe in the past 2 years,” says coffee industry consultant Andrew Hetzel of Cafemakers.

“The rapid expansion of consumerism and a strong demand for Western-style cafe culture has spurred independent entrepreneurs and multinational corporations to invest heavily into specialty coffee in developing markets.”

“In Asia, particularly in the traditional tea drinking strongholds of China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Korea and Singapore, specialty coffee has become a symbol of success for the new upwardly mobile middle class. Like the BMWs and Mercedes that they drive or designer fashion labels they wear, coffee is more important for what it says about you, rather than what it does for you.”

“In the Middle East, the GCC or Gulf Cooperative Council Countries of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, U.A.E. and Sultanate of Oman are flush with international development projects, oil profits and a booming expatriate immigration, signaling the right time to diversify into new industries. Banking, followed by consumer goods and service companies (including tourism, hospitality, food & beverage) and the construction firms that build them have become the fastest growing in the region. Despite the worldwide economic downturn that has had a substantial impact on high flying Dubai, the GCC’s crown jewel of economic activity, coffee remains deeply rooted in Arabic culture and interest in Western preparation continues to build even while other markets, such as tourism stagnate. In 2009, a conference organization in Dubai will host the Gulf Region’s first specialty coffee exhibition that will also be the site of the UAE’s first World Barista Championship sanctioned competition — a clear leading indicator of good things to come.”

“In Eastern Europe and Russia, the land grab that began after the fall of the Iron Curtain created a new breed of born again capitalists with the drive and intensity to offset years of Communist government oppression. Bolstered by a strong currency and new global opportunities, these hyper-consumers in Russia and Eastern Europe now hunger for the luxury goods that were formerly available only to politically connected individuals, including coffee. Moscow today commands the highest average cost per cup of coffee in the world (nearly US$11) and yet demand continues to climb, sending major suppliers like Nestle, Kraft, Illycaffe and others scrambling to make billions of dollars of new investment in new infrastructure and marketing. What we see now is a new type of land grab in the former Soviet Union, the coffee BRAND grab.”‑ A. Hetzel