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CHATIME: What We Can Learn from the Market Leader in the International Bubble Tea Industry!

Read: Chatime Fever in Manila

Chatime Taiwan-11.jpg

Did you know that CHATIME is a $20 million business with 580+ stores worldwide and is the #1 Market Leader in the International Bubble Milk Tea Industry?

It is one of the Top 5 Bubble Milk Tea brands in Taiwan, #2 in the Philippines (behind Serenitea, which is the first in the local market), and is still growing fast.

It was great to get the chance to meet Henry Wang of La Kaffa International, the owner of the Chatime brand, and learn how they were able to expand that quickly since 2005. I also wanted to know from him how Chatime was able to capture the hearts of the Filipinos (see Chatime Fever in Manila) and the world's consumers.

If you are an avid fan of Chatime, a competitor in the milk tea business, or an entrepreneur who wants to learn from successful entrepreneurs, you have to check out the Chatime Trivia and the Exclusive Philippine Media Interview with Henry Wang on the story behind the international success of Chatime.

Flavors of Taiwan Series:

Interview with Henry Wang, La Kaffa International

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We visited La Kaffa's headquarters in Hsinchu, Taiwan. La Kaffa owns three brands: La Kaffa Coffee (coffee and Taiwanese food), Chatime (Bubble Milk Tea brand) and Zen Q (dessert store).

Chatime HQ Meeting-12.jpg
Henry Wang, owner of La Kaffa International, was kind enough to share with us the story and strategy of creating the Eastern Starbucks in the Bubble Milk Tea industry in the shortest period of time.

According to him, Chatime's direction is "to open at least 25 flagship chain stores in most of the major shopping malls in (the) coming two years to intercept and attract young society with health-curiousness."

Chatime HQ Meeting-11.jpg

In this video, Henry Wang answers the following questions from the Philippine Media:

  • What is your Philosophy in Business/Chatime?
  • In 2005, how did you make Chatime different?
  • Did Chatime invent the Brewing Technology?
  • How is Chatime Tea different from other brands?
  • Why did you say "YES" to the Philippines?
  • Why did you choose the KOA Family?
  • How often do you upgrade your Menu?
  • If a non-drinking tea person went to Chatime, what would be a good drink to try to introduce that person to tea?
  • Can you tell us about your experience expanding to the west like US or Australia, which are not as familiar with bubble tea?
  • What is the strategy to reach out to the young generation?
  • What is your Vision for Chatime?
  • What is your most favorite Chatime drink?
  • Why did you choose the color Purple as the design of the (Chatime) stores?
  • Tell us a little bit about your background before you started La Kaffa?
  • How much sales and number of stores (at the end of 2011)?
  • What is the food strategy of Chatime?
  • What innovation or achievement are you proudest of?
  • What are the tea drinking habits of most Taiwanese?

Watch this video: 
Chatime's Henry Wang on Building an "Eastern Starbucks" of Bubble Milk Tea

CHATIME Trivia:

I'm a Fan of Chatime-12.jpg

The #1 top selling product is the basic Pearl Milk Tea (This is our favorite also).

They have the BEST bubble pearls (sago) among the different milk tea stores because they are chewy, bouncy and have the right sweetness. It is considered a SIN to run out of bubble pearls in any Chatime store (or any other bubble milk tea shop, for that matter).

Henry Wang prefers the stronger milk teas, and his favorite is the TieGuanyin Tea Latte. This tea has a cult following and is also known as "The Iron Goddess of Mercy" Oolong Tea Latte.

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The Chatime logo is derived from the One Heart Two Leaves formation of a young tea plant.

Learn more on The Making of Green Tea (Nantau Highlands, Taiwan)

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The Chatime stores in the Philippines have a vibrant lounge-dining concept and are more beautiful than the Chatime stores in Taiwan, which are usually just for take-out or to-go.

Chatime stores are purple because it is the favorite color of Henry Wang.

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Chatime Philippines is powered by a dynamic entrepreneur and foodie family (from left to right):

  • Johnlu Koa, French Baker Founder and CEO of Chatime Philippines, provides the experience and guidance behind the rapid expansion of Chatime in the Philippines and deep insight as to what Filipinos are looking for.
  • Lisa Koa, Chatime Philippines Operations, HR and Training Director, is the reluctant leader and the wife of Michael who is Taiwanese and the main reason why the family got the Master Franchise of Chatime in the Philippines.
  • Chris Cua, Chatime Philippines' Finance Director, is the heir apparent and son of Johnip Cua, my boss and a marketing legend in P&G, who is the key behind the profitable expansion of Chatime.
  • Michael Koa, Managing Director of Chatime Philippines, the oldest nephew of Johnlu and the driving force behind the company's aggresive expansion and youthful vibe, and the Chatime fever in Manila.

Chatime HQ Meeting-8.jpg

CHATIME is a beautiful and clever brand name because:

  • It means "Sunrise" in Chinese, which also refers to Henry Wang's goal of having Chatime in every place that has sunrise, and
  • It is a play on words that have a double meaning of Tea Time (Cha - Time) or a place to socialize with friends (Chat - time).

Official Website: www.iChatime.com
Facebook: Chatime Philippines
Twitter: @Chatime.PH

(Note: Currently, Chatime franchises are only awarded and kept within the family and inner circle of friends, with only a few exceptions.)

Flavors of Taiwan Series:

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Full Disclosure: The Taiwan Learning Trip was courtesy of Chatime Philippines. :)

P.S. We are addicted to Chatime because of the pearls, the taste of their milk tea and that there is always something new to try. We probably drink it 2-3 times/week as a dessert or a replacement for coffee. Our favorite branch is Chatime BGC, which is open until 1am from Monday to Friday. :)

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i still prefer Serenitea over Chatime, there's something about the quality of Serenitea. Also Chatime's stores and personel are not pro. At ATC its like a an OJT workfest with over 10 people stuffed behind the counter making tea's.

They might be really good in Taiwan but if theyre competing, they better up their game and train their staff properly and clean up their branches.

Same here i get stressed out visiting any Chatime stores here in Manila (bgc, landmark and galleria). Too many workers yet ang gulo.i also noticed that theyre not so particular about hygiene...dirty counters,floors, throwing utensils on the sink then picking it up to use again. Yech.
I dont prefer Any particular milk tea place. Gongchas ok but a bit expensive.

Personally, I like the upbeat and trendy appeal of Chatime. Their Milk Teas are also top of mind for us as the delicate roasted flavor blends well with the cream they use. The flagship store in Mandaluyong is cozy with their selection of background music something I would like to have in my own playlist :D (I'm a chill-house electro music kind of guy :D) Out of all the Milk teas we have tried in Manila, this and Gong Cha rank up there

The only Cha Time branch we really like is the one in Unimart... other Cha Time stores' teas simply taste bland for some reason. Hope the management can look into that.

The owners needs to check the BGC store. Tea's always bland and the store's very dirty (maybe due to the high traffic, but c'mon, it's not like they can't do anything about it).

In the Phils, Chatime's my least liked milk tea place. Unfortunately, it's the one nearest my office so I don't have a choice.

Wish Gong Cha would open in BGC soon.

Personally, i find their house milk tea bland and uninspiring. That said, what other flavors can you recommend? I'm partial toward the wintermelon milk tea of moonleaf and gongcha.

The customer service of every Chatime branch here in Melbourne is very bad. The staff is pretty rude and it's as if they're not paying much attention to the orders of the customers. They ALWAYS run out of bubble pearls too, which SUCKS because there is no more point in buying bubble tea.

surprised with all the hype over bubble tea, in hk chatime stores were just a little bigger than zagu stands, di rin pinipilahan. or tinatambayan like we do here

Hi I would like to reply to a post posted by Andre, regarding utensils on the sink. As a general rule, we wash every utensil after each use. Its thrown into the sink...but what you don't really see is that they wash it with water and put it into a cup, ready for next use. Now the sink, mind you, is not used for anything else but for washing utensils and cups, trays, etc. used in making the drinks....nothing greasy in it. All greasy items are washed in a separate sink, mostly in the backroom...this is done in order to prevent cross contamination. Soap is not used in the drink making sink area to prevent soap getting into the drink and again preventing contaminants. At the end of the day the utensils and cups or shakers are placed into hot water and sterilized. The sink is cleaned with a clean (unused orally) toothbrush in conjunction with a special cleaner, this is to make sure every nook and
cranny of the sink is scrubbed well including the drain opening. After this a final rinse with HOT and I mean really HOT water is used to rinse the sink. Now for the messy floors...let me tell you, a kitchen gets dirty even your own...but it doesn't mean we don't clean it. Every few minutes the floor is mopped for spills and such. Counters are wiped down every few minutes too. We make so much drinks in so little time its impossible not to spill a few on the counter, but we clean it all the time. Even the rags are color coded to prevent cross contamination. I suggest you ask for the manager of the store, if you find something not to your liking. I can guarantee you that Chatime stores adheres to the "GMP" or Good Manufactures Practice and "HACCP" or Hazzard Analysis Critical Control Point. If you are not convinced I invite you to see our stores during closing time, to see how extensive our sanitation procedures are. The people manning the counters are moving at a very fast pace, its mix drinks then wash...each and everytime we make a drink!

Chatime over 680 stores worldwide, from Asia to Northern America, Middle East and even Australia.....we must be doing something right! :)

Sorry earlier post was meant for Lisse.

thanks for this, got some answer for my homework, i love the interview part :)

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