The men in suits at Exchange Square in Central could be forgiven for thinking the mass of assembled businessmen, international press, glossy magazine reporters and tai tais were clamouring for something more glamorous than a drink. The long-awaited opening of Seattle-based Starbucks Coffee International's first Hong Kong outlet drew the sort of crowd normally found at the launch of an Italian designer's spring collection. However, instead of sipping flutes of champagne, guests slurped Dragon Blend coffee from paper cups as Howard Schultz, founder, chairman and chief global strategist, outlined the Nasdaq-listed company's plans for the region. 'I am extremely excited by our [international] success . . . which has come earlier than expected,' he said. Mr Schultz said that Starbucks planned to open 12 more outlets in the next year with joint-venture partner and local fast-food chain operator Maxim's Caterers. In fact, the coffee chain was not wasting any time - today it will open a second store in Hysan Avenue, Causeway Bay. John Wall, president of Nasdaq International, will officiate at the opening, taking time out from a business trip to support one of his exchange's leading lights. 'It's amazing that you can build a billion-dollar company just from sales of coffee,' said Mr Wall. Starbucks' arrival in Hong Kong follows the company's rapid expansion throughout the rest of the region, with stores already operating in the mainland, Taiwan, Thailand, South Korea and Singapore, among 2,600 outlets worldwide.