French culture has fueled the strength of independent coffee shops and homegrown chains in Vietnam, posing an unusual challenge for Starbucks in Asia as it gets ready to open its first shop in Ho Chi Minh City next month. Vietnamese consumers are accustomed to the slightly bitter taste of their strong homegrown beans, which are stronger than Starbucks' espresso drinks, and shop owners say their beverages are affordable for average residents who can't pay Starbucks prices.

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