In the past 5 or so years, many coffee shop chains, mostly Korean franchises have come up everywhere in UB and to other parts of the country like Erdenet, Darkhan. 2 of the most infamous ones are Caffe Bene and Tom N Toms. More of a bakery than a coffee shop recently Tous Les Jours has been popping up everywhere as well. First of its branches opened on the night street near the Circus, opposite Dublin Irish Pub. You can see any of these two coffee shops almost in every corner of the city. Previously there have been coffee shops around but only a select few served good coffee, service and environment.
These 2 chains offer a good selection of drinks, snacks, wifi, and a cozy environment, but why are these franchises so successful and booming with customers while regular Mongolian owned small shops don’t? Is it because it’s foreign franchise that customers trust the product more? Or just more appealing?
If you’ve been around, there are those “coffee” shops that basically serve 3-in-1 instant coffee, or 1 Lipton Tea Bag with luke warm water. I wouldn’t really call these coffee shops – ” cafes” , but more like rest stops? Most of these places are slash bars or pubs anyway…these places are everywhere and is distinctly noticeable from the exterior, to the service, to the lack of cleanliness and lack of good coffee/tea.
Until recently Mongolians didn’t really have a cafe culture, as compared to like parts of Europe. The importance of sitting in a clean cozy environment, and sipping really good coffee while paying the same amount of money that you could buy quite a few items from the market, can be seen as a luxury to some if not most people here in UB.
I just bought a smoothie in Caffe Benne – Galleria branch . It cost me 7,900 MNT. 60-70% of the population in UB probably will not pay this amount for just one smoothie enhanced with artificial syrup. When a kilo of mutton is 12,000 in Mercury market would the below average income group of people really spend this amount in a coffee shop? Maybe or maybe not.
Whatever it may be, this post was to just share the phenomenon of these franchises popping out everywhere and how successful they have been. Obviously means there’s a lack of such places for students to study, businessmen to have quick meetings, and for people like me to just chill and blog, however pricey the drinks may be, the place is always 80% full.
Recently, the popularity of privately owned coffee shops have been on the rise. Some have very specific themes and serve really good coffee, while others focus more on Deli foods or bakeries but of course offering a variety of beverages. If you want to check out some of these, see below: