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Food delivery bikes in Beijing. Photo: Zhang Peng/LightRocket/Getty

Have you ever ordered your morning cup of coffee delivered to your office? I asked 28 colleagues — all based in the U.S. Just two said "yes," and two others that said they might. Twenty-four basically told me to get lost.

  • Not so in China, where a delivered cup of steaming-hot coffee, brought by motorbike, is the new new thing.

The big picture: Tea is still king in Chinese offices. For those who have switched, coffee is an inconvenient luxury — few offices have brewing machines, and it can take ages to walk to a cafe on the packed streets.

  • But the other thing about China is a mania for on-demand delivery — Chinese want what they want, and they want it now.
  • Hence the opening for delivered coffee, including a reported new venture between Starbucks and Alibaba.

The latest: The partnership between Starbucks and Ele.me, Alibaba's food delivery arm, is to be announced Thursday, report the WSJ's Xiao Xiao and Liza Lin. "Alibaba and Starbucks are always exploring new ways to deepen our long-term partnership in China," an Alibaba spokesman said. Starbucks didn't respond to an email.

The backdrop:

  • Starbucks has had incredible success in China, capturing 80% of the coffee market in 2017, per Euromonitor International.
  • But there's a new competitor. Luckin Coffee, a Beijing startup that launched in October, has already opened 660 Chinese stores.
  • Luckin's strategy? Super-fast coffee delivery via scooters — and if your coffee is more than 30 minutes late, it's free.

The bottom line: "Chinese culture is less relaxed that American culture," says Hans Tung, managing partner at GGV Capital, a VC firm that works in China. So even the mid-morning coffee run is an indulgence. "People say, 'Why should I go out there? I just want my coffee now.'"

Go deeper

Mayors press Biden to adopt progressive immigration agenda

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A coalition of nearly 200 mayors and county executives is challenging Joe Biden and the incoming Congress to adopt a progressive immigration agenda that would give everyone a pathway to citizenship.

Why it matters: The group's goals, set out in a white paper released today, seem to fall slightly to the left of what the president-elect plans to propose on Inauguration Day — though not far — and come at a time of intense national polarization over immigration.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
12 mins ago - Health

Demand for coronavirus vaccines is outstripping supply

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Now that nearly half of the U.S. population could be eligible for coronavirus vaccines, America is facing the problem experts thought we’d have all along: demand for the vaccine is outstripping supply.

Why it matters: The Trump administration’s call for states to open up vaccine access to all Americans 65 and older and adults with pre-existing conditions may have helped massage out some bottlenecks in the distribution process, but it’s also led to a different kind of chaos.

Woman who allegedly stole laptop from Pelosi's office to sell to Russia is arrested

Photo: FBI

A woman accused of breaching the Capitol and planning to sell to Russia a laptop or hard drive she allegedly stole from Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office was arrested in Pennsylvania's Middle District Monday, the Department of Justice said.

Driving the news: Riley June Williams, 22, is charged with illegally entering the Capitol as well as violent entry and disorderly conduct. She has not been charged over the laptop allegation and the case remains under investigation, per the DOJ.

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