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Starbucks Corp. To Open in China

October 16, 1998

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) _ With a few flips of the wrist punctuated by the hiss of the milk-steaming espresso machine, Yong ``Matthew″ Wang completes the order for a ``grande caramel macchiato.″

He adds a swirl of caramel on top of a blanket of foamy milk as a finishing touch.

Wang, 28, is one of seven recruits from Beijing who have been behind the counters in Starbucks throughout Tacoma for nearly three months, training for the company’s retail opening in China. They’ll be here through Oct. 23.

And by December, a handful of shops will be opened in Beijing if former Starbucks Corp. executive Lawrence Maltz has his way.

His Mercer Island company, Borderless Investment Group Inc., is working with Beijing General Corp. of Agriculture, Industry & Commerce to make it happen. The two companies have set up Beijing Mei Da Coffee Co. Ltd to operate the Chinese Starbucks outlets.

``When I joined Starbucks, I immediately felt that the concept would be successful outside the United States,″ Maltz said.

His interest was piqued in 1994 when he began distributing Starbucks coffee in Beijing hotels and realized that ``the native energy and intelligence of the Chinese people were something that we could incorporate into the culture of Starbucks.″

That effort was helped along by a Starbucks vice president, Jinlong Wang, of Beijing, who once worked for the Chinese ministry of international trade and finance.

``He was really indispensable to us in the success of our operation in Beijing ...,″ Maltz said.

While it may take a while for words like ``latte″ and ``mocha″ to become part of everyday language, Maltz says it can be done, given that Starbucks faced the same situation in the United States a decade ago.

Part of the plan calls for the seven Beijing recruits to drink up the Northwest-Starbucks culture and serve it up in the Beijing stores. Some of the recruits will become mangers, Maltz said.

Yong Wang, the trainee, expects Starbucks to initially attract the many foreigners living in Beijing. And soon, young people will be clamoring to taste the hip American beverages, he said.

Wang has dealt well with the language and cultural hurdles he has faced. On busy days, he takes orders and creates coffee concoctions at a consistent pace. Only a few droplets of sweat on his brow betray any hint of exertion.

``This is very important for me because I think before I came to America, I didn’t know what was American about American people ... now I know (the country has) a lot of friendly people.″

Pong ``Peter″ Ye, another Beijing trainee, expects Starbucks to follow the path of other American businesses such as McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken in the city.

Both chains have become very popular in China, Ye said, and are holiday treats for which children pester parents.

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