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African coffee war brewing

In 2015, Starbucks announced a partnership with one of Africa’s top food brand management groups, Taste Holdings, with the plan to open its first location in South Africa in 2016.

Starbucks’ intent to capture African coffee market has spurred a war for dominance; coffee shops throughout continent are percolating on high

LAGOS, Nigeria (AFKI) — In 2015, Starbucks announced a partnership with one of Africa’s top food brand management groups, Taste Holdings, with the plan to open its first location in South Africa in 2016. Starbucks might be late to enter Southern Africa, but U.S. food as a whole is not, with KFC and McDonald’s boasting hundreds of locations around the continent.

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For local businesses to compete, they need to be as fast, dependable and well branded as Starbucks or they need to offer something that outshines those qualities. Here are eight African coffee shops that could give Starbucks a run for its money.

Bourbon Coffee, Rwanda

BCR is one of the largest African coffee producers. Bourbon Coffee opened in 2007 and has since then expanded to eight locations across Rwanda and the U.S. The company uses eco-friendly practices to make their coffee, which comes from buttery chocolate and slightly sweet bourbon coffee beans. The company also gets its beans directly from Rwandan farmers, and its various ethical processes have made it attractive to international markets. Ironically, Bourbon Coffee took over an old Starbucks location in Washington D.C., according to washingtonpost.com.

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Bourbon Coffee opened in 2007 and has since
then expanded to eight locations across Rwanda and the U.S. Photo: Jtkiwi.Bourboncoffeeshop

Café Neo, Nigeria

Nigerian Brothers Ngozie and Chijoke Dozie opened this chain in the commercial area of Lagos with the idea of targeting high-end customers. The chain offers 100 percent Arabic coffee and hired a Rwandan coffee specialist to train its employees. Cafe Neo’s aim is to take over Nigeria before Starbucks does, and at the moment, it has three locations in Lagos, Nigeria’s capital, with plans to open two more. The coffee menu is designed for “repats” — locals who have traveled the world and returned, says Mgafrica.com.

Java House, Kenya

Java House opened its first location in Nairobi, Kenya in 1999 and has since expanded to 36 locations, with plans to open more across the continent. While most coffee shops in the country are in Nairobi, Java House has managed to open successful storefronts in four other Kenyan towns. The company also started its own yogurt brand, Planet Yoghurt, as well as a pizza outlet, 360 degrees, says Reuters.com.

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Java House opened its first location in Nairobi in 1999 and has since expanded to 36 locations, with plans to open more across the continent. Photo: ecpinvestments.com

Vida E Caffe, South Africa

Vida E Caffe has 72 outlets in South Africa, four in Mauritius, as well as one each in Kenya, Botswana, Namibia, Ghana, and two in London, England. Similar to Starbucks, the chain has mini locations inside major supermarkets and shopping centers, as well as large, stand-alone storefronts. The menu mimics that of Italian coffee shops, with panini sandwiches and espressos. The company has a loyalty program and is famous for their staff who sing a chant anytime they receive a tip, according to Mweb.co.za.

Cilantro, Egypt

Cilantro has several locations around Cairo, Egypt and even offers a delivery service. Cilantro locations often serve as hangouts or study spots for students and freelance workers. Their signature item is cappuccino, which comes standard with a fresh brownie bite. Cilantro has managed to keep up with international competition like Second Cup and Costa, and presents a milestone in the Egyptian economy as the first local coffee shop to go global in only a decade after its inception, according to Emeraldinsight.

Truth Coffee, South Africa

Truth Coffee may not be a chain, but it is a serious competitor for Starbucks, having been called one of the best coffee shops in the world by Telegraph.co.uk. The industrial interior space has metal piping and funky furniture everywhere, as well as vintage items like old typewriters and sewing machines, vinyl booths, and candlestick telephones. Truth’s CEO isn’t concerned about more Starbucks opening up in the country, telling Ctvnews.ca that their presence will “benchmark South African pricing with world pricing.”

Alem Bunna, Ethiopia

Alem Bunna coffee is available in supermarkets around the country, as well as at its brick and mortar locations. Alem Bunna targets young professionals by providing high-quality coffee, made fast to keep up with their busy lifestyles. The company is currently looking for foreign investors, according to Bbc.co.uk, to keep up with the growing demand for their product. Currently, Alem Bunna has four locations.

Kaldi’s Coffee, Ethiopia

Kaldi’s is known as the Starbucks of Ethiopia, and the chain managed to grow from one outlet to more than 20 in just 10 years on the market. The resourceful chain has overcome a few struggles. When there was a shortage of roasted coffee, they began roasting their own beans, and amid a dairy shortage, Kaldi’s opened a dairy processing plant, according to Howwemadeitinafrica.com. The company makes its own pressed juices and ice cream and has a small menu of burgers and sandwiches.

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