Starbucks now serving a billion latte sippers in China

The iconic coffee company plans on opening 1,500 new outposts by 2015

Serving a billion latte sippers

Greg Baker/AP

It wasn’t long ago that Starbucks’ big plans to expand throughout China ran into an embarrassing hitch. The American coffee giant, which first entered the market in 1999, stepped into a scandal five years ago after a local TV personality complained that a store erected on the grounds of Beijing’s Forbidden City was eroding Chinese culture. A massive protest followed and the company retreated. Now Starbucks faces the opposite problem. With more than 570 coffee shops across the country, and plans to open another 1,500 by 2015, CEO Howard Schultz says the challenge is finding ways to prevent enthusiastic patrons from lingering for hours on end—sometimes without even buying drinks. “For a decade, the core business was expats and tourists,” Schultz recently told Reuters. “Without question, the core business today is Chinese nationals.” And they seemingly can’t get enough.