Published On: Mon, Jul 21st, 2014

Starbucks Conquers New World in Bogota, Colombia

Colombia’s Juan Valdez chain is at least paying lip service to welcoming the northern competition.

starbucks in Bogota Colombia

Last week, Starbucks made its debut in the country that’s synonymous with coffee. Its three-floor coffee house in Bogota, Colombia, is the first of 50 that Seattle’s Starbucks is planning to open over the coming five years.

The store serves exclusively Colombian Arabica bean coffee.

Colombia’s coffee federation, owner of the Juan Valdez chain, is at least paying lip service to welcoming the northern competition. It stated that the arrival of Starbucks would boost the market for gourmet coffee. So what if their own sales at nearly 200 stores in Colombia go down a little. It’s the cost of welcoming a new neighbor…

“There’s room in the market for us both, ” said Alejandra Londono, head of international sales for the Colombian chain, according to the Times Colonist.

starbucks juan valdez

Since its founding 11 years ago, the Juan Valdez chain has funneled more than $20 million to a national fund supporting Colombia’s 560, 000 coffee-growing families, some of whom are Juan Valdez shareholders.

“Given the dependence we have on Colombian coffee farmers we wanted to tread very lightly over the years, ” said Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz in Bogota. “When we did decide to come we wanted to do it in a way that was very respectful and through the lens of humility.”

Colombians’ taste in coffee is not what you call gourmet. Most local consumers prefer their coffee heavily-sweetened, warmed-over and black – they call it tinto.

Schultz, who first came to Colombia 15 years ago to purchase beans, said no expense was spared to make the Colombia launch a success. The Bogota store’s coffee is roasted locally, the store is decorated with Colombian artwork and the company opened a farmer support center to share insights with growers.

“This is all designed to create a spotlight, halo and celebration of Colombian coffee, ” said Schultz.

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