Visiting China you can see the impact that US food brands are having on the increasing number of Chinese consumers. Starbucks are increasing their penetration and (unfortunately) setting the expectations for what espresso should taste like. The Starbucks that I visited were not packed, not dead, but not over run. Pricing for a cappuccino is about AUD5 and up for their menu. (As a benchmark, a McD meal deal, burger, chips, drink is about AUD3)
Staff generally speak English and are well trained to produce the drinks the Starbucks way.
If you want my prediction on who is kicking goals in China, visit a McDonalds or a KFC. Those places are packed. You fight to get to the counter, fight to order, and then you stalk the tables until you eek out a place to sit.
For what it is worth, companies that are going into China with proven business systems are printing cash. Starbucks has their system but they are still establishing the market for coffee drinking. The two Starbucks baristas that I polled did not themselves drink coffee, preferring tea. [Note to Starbucks trainers...tell the Baristas to say they like coffee.]
On the topic of printing cash, when you do pass money at Stabucks they do check that it isnt counterfeit. Tourists are unfortunately easy targets for people passing fake notes to us as change.
Taiwanese coffee chain operator UBC is also common in the Shanghai & Xian. Didnt get a chance to go in for a coffee. The one Ive pictured here didnt have a single customer. My rule for travelling is always go where at least some of the locals go.
Another tip for travellers is that both Starbucks and UBC generally have open wireless networks, great for those Skype calls back home.