Illy: China To Become One Of Top Five Coffee-Drinking Countries

Italian Roaster Opening Pop-Up In Beijing This Month

Galleria illy Beijing will launch on October 26

Though annual per capita consumption sits at less than five cups, coffee is becoming a daily addiction rather than an occasional splurge for a growing slice of the Chinese population. With coffee consumption in China rising at an estimated 30-40 percent annually, over the global average of 2-3 percent, major coffee chains like Starbucks — which currently has over 570 stores in 48 Chinese cities — aren’t the only ones bullish about the market. This week, Andrea Illy, chairman and CEO of Italian coffee group illycaffe, said his company expects rising demand to propel China into the top five coffee-consuming countries within a few years. Though not entirely surprising, considering the size of the population, Illy told Reuters that “the rapid emergence of mega cities in China would create business opportunities for groups like illycaffe to boost coffee drinking, typically in Italian style, in the form of cappuccino or espresso.”

Considering coffee consumption in China — with a population of over 1.3 billion — is just over that of Portugal (population: 10.6 million), it’s not a leap to expect big things from the market in the years ahead. Despite the fact that China has traditionally been — and will always remain — a primarily tea-drinking nation, Andrea Illy said this week that “Coffee consumption will most likely grow proportionately to the increase in disposable incomes.”

Recognizing that consumption will mainly center around cafes and coffeeshops, while slowly filtering into the home, Illy is set to debut the first mainland Chinese Galleria illy — a sort of cafe pop-up on steroids that hosts exhibitions, talks and performances by some of the world’s leading artists, writers and cultural curators — in Beijing on October 26. Launching at Beijing’s Parkview Green mall (芳草地购物中心), which will also host the inaugural mainland China location of H&M’s Collection of Style (COS) this fall, Galleria illy Beijing is the nearly 80-year-old coffee roaster’s latest overture to the Chinese market. Looking to combat the growing dominance of American rival Starbucks, illy has spent the last several years in China building its brand via a savvy expansion scheme, which prioritized five-star hotels and upscale restaurants over massive cafe construction or mid-range product lines. Galleria illy Beijing, which will run for nearly six weeks, is its latest attempt to position itself as a high-end, sophisticated competitor to the more mass-market Starbucks.

Chandelier up at Parkview Green in advance of Galleria illy launch in October (Image: Fashion Trend Digest)

As with other Galleria illy locations around the world, the Parkview Green iteration will center around the signature coffee mug chandelier, a two-ton, eight-meter tall assemblage of large-scale cups featuring designs by some of the world’s leading contemporary artists. According to Chinese-language media reports, the construction of the chandelier now hanging at Parkview Green in advance of the opening took 45 days. Partners for the Beijing gallery include Italian furniture brand Moroso, arts publishing house Charta, and Le Meridien. (Itself no stranger to art collaborations in China.)

illy’s decision to open its first Chinese Galleria illy in Beijing is no coincidence, as the city remains the country’s leading arts and culture hub. To localize the venue for the Chinese capital, illy has confirmed the participation of young Chinese artist Liu Wei (刘韡) and celebrated Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado. Beijing will also feature heavily in the new issue of the coffee roaster’s arts and culture publication, illywords, with work by young artists from Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) to be highlighted. In addition, illy will offer free classes and tastings via its Università del Caffè during the month-and-a-half run of Galleria illy Beijing.

Galleria illy Beijing
From October 26-December 2, 2012
Parkview Green Mall
9 Dongdaqiao Lu, Chaoyang District, Beijing
芳草地购物中心
地址:北京市朝阳区东大桥路9号 芳草地
Hours: 10:00am-10:00pm daily

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