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Originally published February 6, 2013 at 12:25 PM | Page modified February 7, 2013 at 6:35 AM

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Starbucks adds to India store count

The Seattle coffeee chain is now up to seven locations in the world’s second most populous nation.

Seattle Times business reporter

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Starbucks is opening its first non-airport coffee shop in New Delhi, India, on Thursday, marking its second city and seventh location in India.

Starbucks initially planned to open in India six years ago, but was delayed mostly because of its own financial setbacks.

The chain debuted in Mumbai last fall and now is growing slowly in the world’s most populous country after China. Despite having 1.2 billion people, India’s potholed roads and other infrastructure issues make the Seattle-based chain cautious about how it proceeds.

Starbucks shops in India are half-owned by the beverage arm of Tata Group, a massive conglomerate that owns steel, chemical and hotel operations and makes Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles.

Tata also is one of Asia’s largest coffee producers and supplies all coffee for Starbucks espresso drinks in India. John Culver, head of Starbucks in Asia, has said the company expects to sell Indian coffee in other markets as well.

Indian coffee is not commonly drunk in the United States, partly because of the distance and partly because of taste.

Until the mid-’90s, the Indian government pooled the country’s coffee and paid farmers roughly the same price no matter the quality. When that system ended, many coffee farmers responded by improving the flavor of their coffee, which has brought higher profits.

Melissa Allison: 206-464-3312 or mallison@seattletimes.com. Twitter @AllisonSeattle.

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