SINGAPORE: Five international coffee brands have entered Singapore over the past few months—not that the Little Red Dot lacks a java kick! But making it in the regional financial hub could signal larger expansion plans elsewhere in the world, a Dec 26 CNBC piece says.

The market is already saturated with global and local brands such as Gloria Jean’s, Baristart, Bearded Bella, Dutch Colony Coffee, and the ubiquitous Starbucks. However, one well-known brand, Flash Coffee, closed down last month, even as it owed creditors S$14.9 million, including over S$300,000 to its former workers for previous pay periods.

Nevertheless, a new coffee brand seems to have sprouted every so often lately, with The Straits Times reporting “an Indonesian coffee wave” this month, with the opening of not one but two brands: Fore Coffee and Kopi Kenangan, known as Kenangan Coffee in Singapore.

Two entries from Taiwan, Miracle Coffee and Louisa Coffee, are also making a splash in Singapore. Louisa Coffee is debuting at Guoco Midtown, near Bugis Junction shopping centre and commercial district.

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Meanwhile, Miracle Coffee, founded by singer JJ Lin, has had a pop-up kiosk at the ArtScience Museum in Marina Bay Sands since September of last year and will open a flagship outlet.

According to research from the World Coffee Portal, there have been a dozen new entrants to the branded coffee shop market over the past year, including Canada’s Tim Hortons and China’s Luckin Coffee.

Luckin Coffee has 30 branches in Singapore. Other chains are also racking up a count, with Kenangan Coffee operating four stores and Tim Hortons two. Only Fore Coffee and Louisa Coffee have one store each so far.

“We have a pretty grand ambition for our international expansion. We do believe that Singapore and Malaysia are just a stepping stone. And we want to expand to many more countries than we are today,” Edward Tirtanata, the co-founder and CEO of Kopi Kenangan, was quoted in CNBC as saying.

“There’s no better country than Singapore to jumpstart our global expansion plan. Why? Singapore is a definite hub of Southeast Asia. [People] all over Southeast Asia fly to Singapore, simply just to transit, to travel or do business,” he added.

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To this end, the brand has strategically placed outlets at Changi Airport Terminal 2 and the mall at Jewel Changi Airport.

“Therefore, we do believe that with a successful entry into Singapore, we will be able to propel our brand further as we expand to more and more countries,” he told CNBC.

Mr Guo Jinyi, the CEO of Luckin Coffee, has expressed the same sentiments, saying, “The opening of our Singapore store is the first step for Luckin Coffee to expand overseas. Although we are still in the early stages of exploration and testing, we hope to cultivate the Singapore market in the long term, bring new consumer experiences, inject new vitality and development  momentum into the local coffee market.”

The same goes for Louisa Coffee. Mr Alex Lin is quoted in as saying that the opening of its Singapore store “marks a significant breakthrough in the post-pandemic era, symbolising the resilience and expansion determination of our brand. We look forward to continuing to write brilliant chapters in Singapore and other international markets in the future.”

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JJ Lin said of Miracle Coffee’s expansion from Taiwan and China, “I am truly thankful for everyone’s support for Miracle Coffee over the past year. We hope Miracle Coffee will be a vibrant hub for coffee lovers to revel in the wonders of coffee and innovation.

Through The Miracle Lab, we are excited to bring coffee culture to the next level by introducing cross-genre collaborations with unique communities from time to time.”/TISG

Read also: Flash Coffee owes creditors S$14.9M including over S$300K to former workers