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Aug 30 2011

Starbucks to add two more stores in Sweden, only tourists will care

Starbucks sign

Based on the success of Sweden’s ONLY Starbucks Coffee shop. which opened at Arlanda International Airport in Stockholm just last year, the US coffee giant has announced it will open shops in the Gothenburg and Malmö train stations.  I can’t really speak with any authority on how smart of a business decision this is for Gothenburg, but I won’t be surprised if the Malmö location struggles.

Now I know what some of you are thinking. Swedes are a serious coffee-drinking people, second only to Finland in per-capita consumption. How could Starbucks possibly fail in such a java-fueled country?  Well, let me add this little detail: Swedes are a serious GOOD COFFEE drinking people, and Starbucks…even if brewed for the Swedish palate, just isn’t all that tasty. (Full disclosure, I fall firmly in the camp that thinks Starbucks over-roasts their beans, producing a standard brew that invariably tastes “burnt” to me. Their espresso-based drinks are the exception to this rule.)

If native Swedish commuters don’t take to Starbucks, then the company will have to rely on tourists for the bulk of their business. Granted, Malmö’s Central Train Station is a busy place, but it doesn’t have nearly the tourist traffic they see at Arlanda or across the Öresund at Copenhagen International Airport, which has had a Starbucks for a couple of years now. Plus I can think of *at least* a half-dozen vendors in the train station that sell coffee, including TWO Espresso Houses (essentially Sweden’s own version of Starbucks).

On the other hand, if Starbucks brings anything resembling American-style speedy customer service to the train station, that could more than make up for the over-roasted coffee.

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12 comments

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  1. Mahya

    Starbucks? Sweden needs The Coffee Bean to take shop.

    1. Shazzer

      The Coffee Bean is not nearly as well-known as Starbucks here. Without name recognition right off the bat, I’m not sure how it would do.

  2. yeah_yeah

    I think you’re seriously underestimating Swedish people’s love for all things American… 🙂 Also, Malmö’s young immigrant population tends to be very inspired by US pop culture, and I can definitely see a lot of them grabbing a “real” Starbucks venti (as seen on TV!) on their way to work in Copenhagen.

    1. Shazzer

      You may be right, yeah_yeah. But even so, I’m not sure there are enough American-culture-crazy commuters passing thru Malmö C to generate the volume they will need. I think price will be a factor as well. A Starbucks Venti will need to be priced very close to an Espresso House large to keep Swedes coming back regularly. Thanks so much for commenting!

  3. Daniela

    Starbucks will kick EspressoHouse’s butt. I love Starbucks, nobody could be happier than me, now that I don’t have to go to Copenhagen airport for a Frappucino or just any regular coffee that I think tastes a lot better than what the other coffeehouses can offer.
    I think Starbucks will do just fine in Malmo. 🙂

    1. Shazzer

      I hope you are right, Daniela. I know a fellow American ex-pat will be working there (her first “real” job since moving to Sweden) so I’d like to see it succeed for that reason alone. I honestly think it will come down to pricing. Most of the Swedes I know are *very* price-conscious and won’t pay significantly more (on a regular basis, at least) for a coffee beverage just because it’s served in a Starbucks cup. ;^)

  4. ExpatJenn

    Hi There! An American expat living in Kiev. Traveling to Malmo with friends. Is the Starbucks open? 🙂

    Thanks!

    Jenn

    1. Shazzer

      It’s open now, Jenn! Here’s a link to my latest entry about it: http://shazzerspeak.com/2012/02/17/starbucks-invades-malmo-c/

      When will you be in Malmö?

      1. Jenn

        Hi again! And YAHOO!

        Thank you for the update! I’m visiting an expat friend in London, and we are taking a 3 night trip to Copenhagen-with a one day trip to Malmo. Not sure of the Malmo day, but we’ll be in Copenhagen April 13-16th.

        Thank you again! Moved to Kiev last year from Moscow. Lots of Starbucks in Moscow, but none in Kiev. I have to say, there are some good coffee cafe’s here in Kiev though! 🙂

        1. Shazzer

          Glad to help! You’ll be able to get a double fix if you’re coming here by way of the Danish capital, because there’s a Starbucks in the Copenhagen airport as well! If you end up in Malmö on one of the weekend days and fancy meeting a “local” expat, drop me a line. I’d be happy to meet you at Starbucks! Cheers! –Shazz

  5. Mary Ballard-Johansson

    As an American who lives near Gothenburg, I was thrilled when Starbucks opened! I take the train to get, to the city, and Starbucks is my first-and last-stop everytime. And I can attest, it is ALWAYS busy.

    1. Shazzer

      Sounds like they do a better business than the one in Malmö, Mary. It has it’s busy times of day, but more often than not there’s no queue to speak of.

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