SHANGHAI, China – If there is a way Ecuadorian coffee can make a dent in the Chinese market, both in sales and in the imagination of consumers, it is through having its own identity – this is the logic behind Inkalab, a business model styled on Starbucks and set for launch in the Chinese market.
Similar to the U.S. multinational coffee chain, which buys coffee beans and does the roasting itself, making its own blends to obtain a specific taste, China’s Inkalab, which will open its first coffee shop in Shanghai this year, will import up to five varieties of green coffee from Ecuador and roast them in China.
Using just Ecuadorian coffee, Inkalab’s research and development team can experiment and prepare combinations to develop unique coffee varieties exclusively for the Chinese market, Diego Vera, commercial adviser for ProEcuador in Shanghai, told EFE.
Inkalab, in alliance with trade promotion agency ProEcuador, aims to become a Chinese coffee franchise specializing in Ecuadorian coffee, as well as acting as a distributor.
With its own team and five varieties of coffee – from Loja, Zamora, Imbabura, Vilcabamba and even the Galapagos Islands – Inkalab will have the means to develop unique blends, and also adapt them to the needs of its clients, such as hotels and restaurants.
“It is the perfect time to put down roots in this sector in China and develop these concepts with select coffee, exquisite and different from the usual,” Santiago Yañez, Ecuadorian trade consul in Shanghai, said.
In China, there are already importers buying green coffee from Brazil, Colombia and Africa, but they usually do so to create uniform mixtures to distribute in the country, keeping the cost low, Yañez said.
For Ecuador, selling green coffee directly to China is an opportunity “for Ecuadorian coffee to gain a better position in China,” Vera said.