Starbucks matcha marches into the Via lineup with new, Japan-exclusive green tea drink mix

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RocketNews 24 (by Casey Baseel):

The powdered drink series isn’t just for coffee anymore.

While most people immediately think “coffee” when they hear “Starbucks,” the immensely popular chain of cafes also does a brisk business in teas at its Japanese locations. In 2001, the chain introduced the Matcha Cream Frappuccino, which predated the current matcha sweets boom by several years and paved the way for this year’s Chocolate Brownie Matcha, plus the matcha tea latte, which was added to the menu in 2006.

Now, Starbucks is bringing out the first Japan-exclusive item in its Via line of instant beverage mixes: Tea Essence Matcha.

▼ Tea Essence Matcha, hanging out with its coffee-based Via half-siblings

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The matcha Via contains the same domestically produced matcha tea powder as Starbucks uses for its barista-prepared beverages while offering the convenience and portability of Via’s powdered drink bases. Starbucks recommends mixing the contents of a pack with milk for a rich, relaxing cup of matcha latte.

Matcha Via goes on sale June 17 at Starbucks Japan branches and through the company’s online store, priced at 650 yen (US$5.90) for a pack of five.

Starbucks plans to make China its biggest market by 2019

Break time: customers at a Starbucks in central Beijing (Photo: REUTERS/Jason Lee)Break time: customers at a Starbucks in central Beijing

South China Morning Post:

Starbucks announced plans yesterday to make China its biggest market by 2019, with almost 1,400 new shops set to open by 2019.

The world’s largest coffee chain appears to be shrugging off the slowdown that has hit global retailers in the world’s second-largest economy, financial commentators have said.

Starbucks executives want to increase the number of stores in China from 2,000 to 3,400 by 2019. They will be creating 10,000 jobs every year until then, making China its the largest market outside the United States, said a company statement released on Tuesday.

The Seattle-born coffee chain claimed they have not experienced the slump in China plaguing American eateries such as KFC and Pizza Hut.

About 500 Starbucks shops plan to open in China this year alone.

John Culver, Starbucks president of the China and Asia-Pacific region, said the company remains positive about growth opportunities in the country.

We have no intention of slowing down and we remain very optimistic and bullish on the opportunities that Starbucks has in China, both in the short-term as well as in the long-term,” he told Bloomberg.

He went on to say the company was seeing growth in new customers in China, as well as more frequent visits from existing ones.

Starbucks hopes to make China its biggest market.

This tells us that we are becoming part of their daily ritual,” he told Bloomberg.

New Starbucks stores that opened in fiscal year 2015 have outperformed the average sales of those opened in the last seven years.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said this week that China had the potential to become the company’s largest market.

Over time, it’s conceivable that China could become our largest market and I am grateful to our 30,000 dedicated China partners and their supportive families for the significant contributions they are making to Starbucks success,” he said.

We are deeply humbled by the enthusiasm with which Chinese people have embraced Starbucks as part of their daily ritual over the past 17 years.”

The continued investments we are making, coupled with the culture of innovation we have established, are elevating Starbucks partner and customer experience beyond that of any other retailer in China.

The company hopes to attract new staff with the offer of a monthly housing allowance subsidy, covering 50 per cent of an employee’s monthly housing expenditures.

5 unique cafés to visit in Asia


Audrey Magazine (by Alyssa Park):

Cafés are popping up all over America, and they are quickly becoming part of a global culture as well. For instance, all across Asia you can find amazing cafés with different types of aesthetics such as rustic, modern, traditional and even themed. If you are traveling through Asia, then these five destinations are a must.

1. Hoho Myoll Café : (Seoul, South Korea)

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Korea is known to have some of the most beautiful cafés in the world. With a bit of a rustic aesthetic, Hoho Myoll Café is an enchanting little café tucked away in the heart of Seoul.

2. Wangye Teahouse : (Zigong, China)

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Inside of what was once a 100-year-old temple lies a very famous Sichuan Teahouse in Zigong, China. Next to the Fuxi River, visitors not only enjoy a traditional cup of tea, they can also become engrossed in a rich cultural history.

3. Shirohige’s Creampuff Shop: (Tokyo, Japan)

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Shirohige’s Creampuff Shop is one of many of Japan’s themed cafés. Not only are the creampuffs Totoro-shaped, the café itself is extremely sophisticated while maintaining a youthful charm.

4.Up Café: (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)

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Up Café is a mandatory destination in Saigon mostly for it’s novelty. With all of the furniture and windows hanging upside down from the ceilings, you can’t help but feel like you are in another dimension.

5. Audrey Café & Bistro: ( Bangkok, Thailand)

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Audrey Café & Bistro is one of the most popular destinations in Bangkok, Thailand because of its beauty. With decor that only reflects elegance and class, your experience here will be nothing short of luxurious.

Starbucks Japan to release frozen drink maker for homemade cool refreshments


RocketNews 24:

Who’s ready for the hot and humid summer? Japan is approaching the second half of spring, and Starbucks has your back. Later this month they’ll be releasing the “Starbucks Frozen Drink Maker” – a reusable mug that doubles as a super simple frozen coffee mixer. It’s easy, it’s cold and it’s delicious. Let’s take a look!

Starbucks Coffee Japan, will be releasing their “Starbucks Frozen Drink Maker” on May 13 in outlets across the country, so you’ll have plenty of time to practice before the blistering summer really hits full force.

Not that you’ll need a lot of practice though, as the cup makes it incredibly easy to make frozen coffee, which is good, because you might be making it before you’ve had your morning joe, obviously.

The cup is an original design by Starbucks’ kitchenware division and is quite a design indeed. It consists of an inner core and an outer shell. Your frozen drink takes a bit of foresight though, as you have to stick the inner core in the freezer overnight (or at least for a significant length of time) before you can use it.

After the core has been successfully chilled, however, all you have to do is pop it into the glass outer sleeve, pour in a packet of Starbucks VIA flavored instant coffee and 180 millilitres (6 US fluid ounces) of milk, then wait two minutes. Once there is a frozen crust, break it with the special spoon and gently stir it up for seven more minutes. The seven minutes of stirring may tire you out a bit, but it will be well worth it for the delightfully refreshing frozen coffee drink you will create.

▼ It will be so easy to make any flavor you want by using the instant coffee sticks.


The only problem we foresee with this system is that if you want to make more than one drink a day, you’ll either have to wait a long time between drinks, in order to allow the inner core to freeze again, or you’ll just need to have multiple cores chilling in the freezer at any given time. Good thing it comes in the three different “refreshing summer colors” of yellow, white, and light blue. You might as well get one of each. At 3,000 yen (US$25) a pop, however, perhaps it would be best just to stick to one frozen drink a day.


A daily dose of frozen coffee may not make you immune to the stickiness of summer, but it will at least give you an occasional refreshing respite and now you don’t even have to leave the comfortable air-conditioning of your home to get it. Thank you, Starbucks; summer suddenly seems a little less daunting.

Head Porter & Toriba Coffee (Japan) collaborate on a collection of coffee kits

Starbucks to release Almond Milk Latte and Frappuccino in Japan for a limited time


RocketNews 24: 

For years, fans of Starbucks have been petitioning the coffee chain for a non-dairy alternative to soy. While the company recently responded by adding coconut milk options to their U.S. menus, lovers of almond milk were left out in the cold due to concerns over nut allergens.

Now, for a limited time, Starbucks Japan will be taking the bold step out into nut allergen territory with the release of the Almond Milk Frappuccino with Honey Crunch and the Almond Milk Latte with Honey Crunch. If you’re in Japan from 18 March to 14 April, you’ll be one of the lucky few to introduce your tastebuds to a sweet treat others can only dream of!

The Frappuccino features a good blend of honey and almond milk, topped with honey-flavored whipped cream and sweet honey syrup. Providing the crunch are tiny nuggets of candy-coated almonds. While the tall size will retail for 520 yen (US$4.30), short sizes can also be provided on request. Although for such a rare menu item, we’ll be eyeing up the Venti at 600 yen ($4.96).

The latte promises to showcase the deliciously nutty flavor of the milk by pairing it with a mellow espresso and a light hit of honey. If you love the aroma of almond milk, this will be the drink for you. Prices start at 420 yen ($3.47) for the short size.

These limited-edition drinks will be available from most outlets around Japan and may sell out during daily business hours, depending on demand. Be sure to get in early so you don’t miss out!

Coffee Jelly: The Japanese treat that’s surprisingly easy to make

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RocketNews 24:

Although coffee and gelatin aren’t typically associated with Japanese cuisine, the popular dessert called “coffee jelly” was actually created in Japan during the Taisho period (That’s over 100 years ago!). As you might expect, the dessert consists of gelatin that has been flavored with black coffee and sugar.

Curious culinarians abroad are in luck! The dog/human chef duo over at YouTube channel Cooking with Dog show us just how easy it is to make this delicious Japanese treat at home.

First-time indulgers of coffee jelly may be surprised by the consistency of this dessert that tastes like a fresh cup of coffee. But don’t let that throw you off! Coffee jelly is a wonderful dessert, especially perfect for summer, but great any time of the year. All you’ll need is fresh coffee beans, sugar, gelatin powder, whipping cream, and some cocoa powder to sprinkle on top. We’ll let Francis the dog and his cooking partner take it from here:

YouTube commenters who have tried the recipe say it’s especially delightful with sweetened condensed milk and cinnamon or vanilla ice cream in place of whipped cream. You don’t even really need to dress it up at all; eating coffee jelly all by itself is just as good!


Coffee beats kimchi as Koreans’ favorite

Korea Times (by Rachel Lee):

Coffee has become so popular in Korea that many people now prefer a cup rather than having rice or kimchi. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, coffee is the most frequently consumed food item, at 12.2 times a week.

Kimchi, traditional fermented vegetables, was second (11.9 times), followed by sugar (9.7) and multigrain rice (9.7).

Thanks to coffee’s rising popularity, 65,000 tons of coffee was produced in the country in 2013, an increase of about 63 percent from 2009. Of the total production, instant coffee accounted for about 39.2 percent in 2013, a 54 percent increase over the past five years.

The instant coffee market has started to shrink, with a variety of takeaway flavors and instant brew coffee becoming increasingly popular,” the ministry spokesperson said.

The penchant for coffee is particularly apparent in Seoul, where many buildings have coffee shops on the first floor.

Coffee chains have grown sharply since Seattle-based Starbucks Coffee entered Korea in 1999, triggering a coffee chain boom in Asia’s fourth-biggest economy.

Other multinational brands such as The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf from California and Pascucci from Italy, jumped on the bandwagon as did local conglomerates such as Lotte Group and CJ Group.

In 2012, Korea ranked 30th in the world in terms of coffee consumption, according to the National Coffee Association of the United States.

Latte Motion: World’s first latte art stop-motion video


Audrey Magazine: 

In recent years, latte art has gotten more and more popular. These days, it’s nothing new to see your favorite manga or cartoon character on a cup of joe. In fact, we’ve even seen 3D latte art made from the foam. But one thing we’ve never seen is 1000 cups of coffee art in under 2 minutes. Well now all you caffeine-lovers can rejoice because that’s about to change. Japanese coffee maker, Maxim Stick, released one of the most impressive stop-motion videos we’ve ever seen.

Latte Motion” is described as the world’s first latte art animation. Using various items (such as nuts and macarons) to create the background, and an incredible combination of patience and determination, Maxim Stick shot 1000 cups of coffee to create the heart-warming video. As you can see in the behind-the-scenes video [below], this was no easy task. The team had to carefully cut each stencil to create smooth transitions between the cups.

All coffee cups were then gently covered with cocoa powder and placed in an exact position. The video has generated nearly 500,000 views and has received ongoing praise for it’s creativity and the hard work behind it. So even though it looked like a painfully tiring process, it was certainly worth it.

Behind the scenes:

Study shows that South Koreans consume more coffee than white rice

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 Audrey Magazine:

South Koreans now drink more coffee than they eat their staple food rice, according to a survey conducted by the Korea Centers for Disease Control of 3,805 adults, according to The Chosun Ilbo.

According to the 2013 survey, the average Korean drinks coffee 12.3 times per week, followed by eating kimchi 11.8 times, multigrain rice 9.5 times, and white rice seven times per week.

The proportion of rice in Koreans’ daily diet has steadily declined over the past decade whereas coffee-related calorie intake has quadrupled due to the amount of artificial sweeteners in coffee, reported The Korea Herald.

Over the past few years, coffee culture has been going strong in South Korea. Earlier this year, Seoul was named as the city with the most Starbucks locations, beating New York City and Los Angeles. In addition, it was reported last month that Starbucks in Korea costs twice as much as it does in the U.S.