By Bogatoz Kalkenova
When I was studying in the USA, I used to spent my free time at coffee shops. The nearest one to the campus was Saxbys. When I wanted to take a break in my studies, I usually went to Saxbys to have my latte and a sandwich. Today I live in Kazakhstan and the two capitals, Almaty and Astana, have a lot of opportunities for coffee lovers.
Just couple of words about the coffee shop business in Kazakhstan; it started to develop only in mid-2000’s. Gradually but surely, people began to move out of restaurants and cafes into the cozy coffee shops. Coffee houses have become an alternative place for business meetings and informal communication. This particular market is not very competitive yet and new players may still enter this business; it is expected that Starbucks may open its coffee shops in Kazakhstan in the near future (according to the circulating rumors).
Today the most popular coffee shop networks in Almaty and Astana are: Gloria Jean’s Coffees, Chocolate, Marrone Rosso, Coffeedelia, Costa Coffee, Coffeemania and Cafeteria. Since Almaty has a warmer climate than Astana, during the summer-fall time you may see people sitting outside the coffee-shops, especially in the city center where the density of the coffee shops is pretty high. If you come to Almaty, you will spend a lot of time in the city center, and if you get tired I bet you’ll definitely end up in one of the Coffedelia or Coffeemania shops. The coffee shops in the center of Almaty are always full of visitors, usually these are young white collar workers and students. However, if you visit large shopping centers, such as MEGA Almaty or Khan Shatyr in Astana, you will find at least one coffee-shop, for example, the Gloria Jeans’s Coffee or Marron Rosso. The Gloria Jean’s Coffees brand is one of the most famous in the world. In Kazakhstan, the American coffee brand started to work in 2007. This year the company has expanded its network when new coffee shops were opened in two capitals, Almaty and Astana, and also in Uralsk and Atyrau (Western Kazakhstan). The Marrone Rosso is an Israeli brand which opened its first shop in Kazakhstan in 2009.
Just to illustrate the coffee shop experience in Kazakhstan I would like to quote one of my american friends, who made an interesting remark, sitting at Coffeedelia shop in Almaty, he said: “if people saw me now they would not believe that I am in Almaty, they would think that I am somewhere in Europe or in the USA…”.