Hundreds of coffee lovers queued early Thursday in an upmarket Johannesburg shopping centre as international chain Starbucks opened its first cafe in South Africa.

The US-based global brand plans to open 12-15 more stores in South Africa over the next two years, with a long term plan of up to 150 outlets.”The timing is right. We are going to offer coffee lovers a special experience,” said Carlo Gonzaga, chief executive of Taste Holdings, the local partner of Starbucks Coffee Company. The cafe’s first customers formed a long line at Starbucks’ doors in the Rosebank shopping centre before the opening at 7:30 a.m.

“Starbucks has been one of the things missing from the South African scene.”

Gonzaga told journalists the prices were tailor made for the South African market and not linked to the exchange rate, which has seen the South African currency fall against the US dollar. Starbucks, which operates more than 22,000 cafes worldwide, has a presence in only two other African countries ─ Egypt and Morocco.

A caffe latte in the stylishly designed shop with copper artworks costs between R27- R33. They will compete with a host of well-established locally-owned brands and independent coffee shops

“We also carefully considered South African customer tastes when we developed our menu and customers can expect local products like Rooibos tea,” said Gonzaga.

Some of the coffee beans are sourced from nine African countries, including Kenya and Burundi.

South Africa has the most developed economy on the continent, and several American food chains have opened doors here recently, including Burger King and Krispy Kreme Doughnut.

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Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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