Namaste, Starbucks

Article excerpt

Byline: Sunit Arora

The coffee king has set its sights on India.

A decade after it started sourcing coffee from India, Starbucks, the world's largest coffee chain, has decided to serve up its concoctions to an Indian audience. It's been a while coming and long after most retail multinational brands--from McDonald's and KFC to Zara and Marks & Spencer--have trooped in to tap the Indian middle class, estimated at 300 million people. Starbucks's joint venture with Indian conglomerate Tata Group will set up 50 co-branded cafes in Indian cities over the next eight months.

Starbucks has its work cut out for it. India's cafe market is booming--with lots of competition, led by domestic chain Cafe Coffee Day. There are about 1,500 cafes nationwide, growing at a healthy 30 percent annually. Indians in the metros are also used to international chains like Gloria Jean's and The Coffee Bean. Being the latte-come-lately, can Starbucks crack India? And do Indians drink coffee anyway? …