SEATTLE FIRMS SHOW JAPANESE HOW TO ESPRESSO THEMSELVES
By Eric Torbenson P-I Reporter
Tuesday, August 11, 1992
Section: Business, Page: B4
They may scoff at American cars, but the Japanese apparently can't get enough
of Seattle-style latte served from a cart.
After a year and a half of planning, two Seattle companies - Burgess
Enterprises and Strictly Seattle Ltd. - this summer introduced espresso carts to
the world's third-largest coffee market.
Burgess supplied the top-of-the-line carts and espresso machines, while
Strictly Seattle cultivated the business relationships required to sell anything
in the sensitive Japanese market.
The result? The first cart in Tokyo sold 3,500 cups of espresso on its first
day. The busiest Seattle cart fills about 1,000 cups on a great day.
Those sales resulted from heavy promotion, but the cart is still doing
``better than even the busiest carts here in Seattle," said Ron DeMiglio,
president of Strictly Seattle.
``There is fantastic potential there," said Andrew Caple, Strictly Seattle's
chief executive, who sipped a latte in the Burgess Enterprise offices in south
Espresso is extremely popular in Japan, but buying it from a cart on the way
to work is new, DeMiglio said.
``Japanese people pay for the right to sit down because space is so limited,"
DeMiglio said. ``Getting up and walking down the street with a drink was a whole
Strictly Seattle's analysis of the Japanese market developed Espresso
Americano, which combines Italian and American themes with a product the
Japanese already love, Caple said. The companies originally wanted to use
Seattle in the title, but decided many customers wouldn't identify coffee with
Strictly Seattle contracted with Millstone Coffee Inc. of Everett to supply
beans to the Espresso Americano franchises.
The tough part was finding entrepreneurs committed to setting up a cart. Few
Japanese entrepreneurs want to invest in something that they aren't sure will
work, DeMiglio said. To reassure the potential investors, Burgess offered
extensive employee training and support services, said company president Bob
The careful detail servers give to each drink and the personal attention they
give customers make the carts attractive in Japan's fully automated culture,
Burgess said. ``It's a very preparation-oriented society."
Caple said the next two carts will open in Tokyo's Ginza area, a busy section
of the city. Eventually, carts could open up on city streets around Japan and
from there spread around Asia. But Burgess and Strictly Seattle plan to move
``Japanese business is based entirely on relationships," said DeMiglio, who
has spent four and a half years marketing products in Japan. ``We're not going
to spread ourselves too thin."
Burgess has received inquiries about the cart and espresso machines from
Australia, Israel, Korea and from hundreds of locations around the United
In addition to Millstone, other local coffee roasters are either
contemplating or reaching agreements to export to Asian markets. Sue Hatch,
marketing director for Seattle's Best Coffee, said the company will soon ship
coffee to a Vietnamese market.
``They brew their coffee in single servings, using about three times as much
coffee as we would use, and then they use a sweetened condensed milk," Hatch
said. ``We're sending them a darker roast."
Starbucks Coffee Co. has no immediate plans to ship overseas, but ``it will
be a great market in the future," said Laura Moix, media representative.
This article contained at least one photo or illustration as
Description: PHIL H. WEBBER/P-I -- Bob Burgess of Burgess Enterprises,
together with Strictly Seattle Ltd., has introduced the Seattle-style espresso
cart to the Japanese, with phenomenal success. The first cart in Tokyo sold
3,500 steaming cups on its first day in business.