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Cappuccino or conspiracy? China’s Luckin Coffee opens in Singapore

You can now have coffee with a side of scandal at Luckin Coffee, which has opened its first overseas locations in Singapore.

The Chinese coffee chain launched here last month with a takeaway booth outside Ngee Ann City and dine-in outlet at Marina Square, both featuring its popular coconut latte and the brand’s “new retail” strategy.

Three more stores are slated to open later this year, including one at Guoco Tower in April, followed by Aperia Mall and Jewel.

Luckin Coffee debuted in China in 2017 with the mission of beating Starbucks at its game. In two years, the company became China’s largest coffee chain thanks to its focus on convenience, low prices, and an aggressive marketing and expansion push. In 2019, it went public on the Nasdaq and was valued at US$4 billion.

By January 2023, the company had more than 8,400 stores throughout China, compared to Starbucks’ 6,000 branches on the mainland.

Luckin Coffee SIngapore
(Image credit: Luckin Coffee)

But Luckin was brewing more than just coffee. In 2019, the company admitting to inflating US$310 million in sales, leading to the resignation of its chief executive officer and chief operating officer. Luckin was also delisted and filed for bankruptcy.

Since then, Luckin has restructured and implemented stricter internal controls. They also hired a new CEO.

What to expect at Luckin Coffee Singapore

Luckin’s coffee blends are created by its team of World Barista Championship winners, and brewed by Swiss-made Schaerer coffee machines. Signature drinks include the coconut latte, a coffee and cold-pressed raw coconut milk mix that Luckin invented and has sold over 300 million cups to date. They also sell ice-blended coffees under the Exfreezo range, americanos made from single-origin Yirgacheffe and Hambella beans, and non-coffee options like matcha and chocolate.

Luckin Coffee SIngapore
Hambella latte (Image credit: Luckin Coffee)

Consumers looking for an espresso or kopi o kosong gao are out of luck. Both single origin coffees lean towards the fruity and acidic spectrum, with Hambella tasting slightly darker.

The local Luckin Coffee also follows its China strategy of a “technology-driven retail concept,” which means no java for cash-waving luddites. Instead, consumers place orders and pay through the app for both dine-in and takeaway options.

Likewise, it is also offering cheap deals. Consumers who download the app and place their order can get their first drink for only SGD0.99.

(Hero and feature images credit: Luckin Coffee)

Cappuccino or conspiracy? China’s Luckin Coffee opens in Singapore

Jethro enjoys wine, biking, and climbing, and he's terrible at all three. In between them, he drinks commercial lagers, and eats dumplings and gelati.

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