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This is the VOA Special English Economics Report.
India is traditionally a tea-drinking country. But Indians are gaining a new taste for coffee. This has led international coffee companies to consider moving into the market. At the same time, local business people are looking for new ways to profit from the country's tea-drinking tradition. They are opening new places that offer tea.
Coffee shops have spread from major cities like New Delhi and Mumbai to smaller towns. In the past ten years, cafes have become increasingly popular. India's huge population of young people has quickly taken to the coffee culture.
Indians now drink twice as much coffee as they did ten years ago. The success of the coffee market has gained the attention of foreign companies like Starbucks. The American-based company will open its first store in India later this year. Other companies like Lavazza and Costa Coffee are already there.
The head of the India Coffee Trust, Anil Kumar Bhandari, praises Starbucks's decision. He says cafes in India have become central to the lifestyle of the young middle-class. He says coffee companies like Starbucks "should have been here before ... Almost any cafe chain which has a reasonable quality with its service, ambiance and food -- and coffee first -- will succeed in this country." Look at the young population, he says, "they are all taking to it like ducks to water." India has over a billion people. Business experts point out that half of them are under the age of twenty-five.
Yet even with the growth in coffee drinking, Indians still drink eight times more tea. They have been drinking tea for more than one hundred fifty years. India is also one of the world's biggest producers of tea, or chai, as people call it locally.
Indians usually drink tea at home or in offices or buy it mostly from street sellers. But some business people hope to change that. Amuleek Singh Bijral is thirty-six years old and a graduate of Harvard University in the United States. He opened a place called Chai Point in Bangalore, the center of India's information technology industry. In less than a year thirteen more Chai Point locations have opened in the city. One tea drinker in Bangalore welcomes the new outlets: "Out-of-home options like this are new, especially since coffee-drinking has boomed in the last couple of years. This is a little different."