A fairly typical One Bucks location - which features only a window rather than a walk-in store. This format is becoming increasing popular in Moscow and can be found inserted in sometimes surprising locations.

One Bucks Coffee

Published: December 28, 2018

One Bucks Coffee is a fairly recent arrival to Russian branded coffee shop chains and currently has twenty-one locations, all based in Moscow. One Bucks entered the scene shortly after the 2014 financial crisis hit Russia. It was a time of falling retail space prices, which helped lead to an explosion of new coffee shops and other cafes. It was also a time when many Russians were anxiously watching the dollar/ruble exchange rate, which had entered a period of severe volatility. One Bucks attempted to capitalize on both trends, opening a chain that sold a cup of coffee for the equivalent of $1 – based on the current ruble exchange rate.

The ruble has since largely stabilized at around 65 to the US dollar, but One Bucks has kept with the marketing ploy and is still serving coffee in Moscow. One Bucks operates a range of locations – from tiny to-go windows to small sit-down locations that it markets as ideal places to work and meet with other people. Overall, the walk-in locations feel pretty similar to an American chain like Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks. It also advertises its commitment to quality by emphasizing its training facility for baristas in the center of Moscow.

One Bucks has had some controversy. It was initially refused a trade mark due to the “One Bucks” name being adjudged by the Russian authorities to be too similar to “Starbucks,” which had already entered the Russian market. For a time, the chain was known as “One Price Coffee” – which didn’t make a lot of sense since the brand’s marketing ploy was that the coffee’s price would change regularly. It did, however, allow them to keep the visual elements of the original name and, now that they have one the right to use it, quickly adopt the new branding without much disruption. While it may seem that the registry office may have overreacted, it also seems that One Bucks intended to have their branding reflect Starbucks’ existing brand – as seen especially in their heavy use of dark green in their interiors – and employee uniforms.

Today, One Bucks’ online reviews are a mixed bag but seems it to be making a successful run at holding its place in an increasingly competitive market.

Above – One Bucks celebrates two years in Moscow by throwing a party for its employees.

About the author

Greg Tracey

Greg Tracey is a junior at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. He is studying economics and international relations, as well as minoring in mathematics and Russian. As a Home and Abroad Scholar, he is focusing on business and economic issues in Russia and surrounding countries. The related scholarship will help fund his participation in SRAS's Russian as a Second Language program at St. Petersburg State University of Economics during the Spring 2019 Semester. In his free time, he enjoys reading and soccer.

Program attended: Home and Abroad Scholar

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