Honolulu Coffee Co. expands into Asia
Exporting coffee to Asia
Photo: David Croxford
Four years after buying Honolulu Coffee Co., former investment banker Ed Schultz is looking to Asia for expansion. The company, which already operates six high-end cafes and brew bars in Hawaii, along with its own roasting plant, patisserie and wholesale coffee business, now has its eyes set on the burgeoning coffee culture in places such as Taiwan, the Philippines and China.
“One of the drivers with buying the brand,” Schultz says, “was to bring high-quality Kona and Maui coffee to Asia.” He thinks there are several reasons now is the time.
“There’s a tremendously fast-growing middle class in Asia,” he says. “Also, you have a tea-drinking society that’s converting to drinking coffee. And then there’s the tremendous love of Hawaii – not just in Japan, but in Korea, Taiwan and China.”
But Schultz has expanded methodically. “First, we opened two stores in Guam,” he says, taking advantage of a Japanese and Korean clientele much like Hawaii’s. “We also have one store in Manila, and, in November, we open our first store in Taipei.”
Taiwan is especially attractive to Schultz. “Taipei has one of the most advanced high-end coffee markets in Asia,” he says. “There are already quite a few independent roasters there.” He also points out that, while Tokyo has over 500 Starbucks, Taipei, with a population of more than 8 million, only has about 50. Just as important, he says, Taiwan is a relatively easy place for a small Hawaii company to do business, with lots of U.S. investment and a large expatriate community.
“From there,” Schultz says, “the idea is to spread west to Mainland China.”
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