Starbucks Coffee has received a lot of press lately for its flagging stock price, with articles citing how it has oversaturated American markets (to the stereotypical point where there are three Starbucks within 750 ft. of each other in a Colorado strip mall). So it’s no wonder why they have looked overseas for growth — as all the fast food chains have done before them — in places with growing affluent middle classes such as China or India. This even includes Cairo, Egypt, where Starbucks opened its first shop in Africa: Rival coffee cultures in Cairo: Food-Travels.
In Egypt, coffee shops are traditionally known as ahwas. Historically, they have served an important role in social fabric of Egyptian life, providing a gathering place for conversation, backgammon, cheap coffee or mint tea, and the occasional shisha (or hookah — a smoking pipe filled with flavored tobacco). A modern coffee shop chain (and Egyptian Starbucks’ competitor) named Cilantro has taken root around Cairo — growing to some twenty shops there in the past six years. (Cilantro serves Illycaffè.)
And while the article states that “some fear the company will become the McDonald’s of coffee,” it’s far too late. Starbucks has been that for years now.
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