China is shaping up to be the next battleground in the big coffee chain wars. In the past week alone, two major developments—backed by some serious investments—have been announced as two brands are making big pushes to challenge Starbucks in the world’s most populated country.
The first brand is homegrown. As Crunchbase reports, Chinese startup Luckin Coffee has raised $200 million in investment capitol, putting their total valuation at a staggering $1 billion. From the article, Luckin is “working to provide an upscale experience at a reasonable price point… using a mass-store model to compete with Starbucks in China.” Starbucks currently has over 3,300 stores in China, its second biggest market outside of the United States.
The next competitor comes from North America—Canada to be specific—with Tim Horton’s announcing plans to open 1,500 stores in China. According to The Guardian, the stores are scheduled to open over the course of the next decade, adding to the Canadian coffee chain’s 4,700 locations.
With a population nearing 1.4 billion, China makes sense as the next big coffee brand frontier. These two brands alone may soon combine to eclipse the number of Starbucks stores in the country. The winner in this heavyweight battle—should there be a winner, and let’s be honest, there’s probably room for all three to thrive—remains to be seen. But for now we know that a lot of money and a LOT of coffee are coming to China.