Scores of Johannesburg's caffeine crowd have been rushing to the South Africa's first Starbucks even as the economic outlook dips. David Pollard reports.
Just like their economy, South African consumers are craving a little froth. At least they're getting some - Johannesburg's new addition to coffee culture an instant sell-out. (SOUNDBITE)(English) UNIDENTIFIED CUSTOMER SAYING: "The Starbucks franchise itself has been amazing from what I have seen in the U.S. and what they have brought to South Africa, it's truly a nice experience." (SOUNDBITE) (English) UNIDENTIFIED CUSTOMER SAYING: "Good, really really good!" The queues started when Starbucks opened their first South African branch two weeks ago - and are still there. South Africans are flocking to cities - and want convenience for their busy, urban lifestyles. (SOUNDBITE) (English) LLOYD, STUDENT AND JOHANNESBURG RESIDENT SAYING: "I would prefer cooking and all of that stuff but the thing is we don't have time." (SOUNDBITE) (English) LERATO HLATSHWAYO, STUDENT AND JOHANNESBURG RESIDENT SAYING: "Yes it's so nice and I know that it's junk food but I like it so much." But medical authorities warn of - literally - a broadening problem as South Africa tops the table behind the US and Mexico for obesity. Though for economists, growth is less than supersized: it's heading for its weakest performance in seven years, and food prices are rising. Starbucks' main franchisee still see 150 outlets as possible. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CARLO GONZAGA, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER (CEO), TASTE HOLDINGS SAYING: "It probably created the right opportunity, to offer customers the complete experience not just based on selling the product." And, say the franchisees, those customers are under pressure ... even if their appetite for big brand fast food appears far from satisfied yet.