The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Breaking News

July 17, 2014

Make room Juan Valdez: Starbucks opens in Colombia

BOGOTA, Colombia — Make room Juan Valdez, it's time to meet the green-aproned barista.

On Wednesday, Starbucks made its much-anticipated debut in the country synonymous with coffee after decades of roasting Colombia's Arabica beans for billions of java lovers the world over.

The three-floor coffee house in Bogota is the first of 50 that the Seattle-based company plans to open here in the next five years. In a nod to the country's proud coffee-growing tradition, it's also the only one in the world to serve exclusively locally-sourced coffee.

But will Colombians answer Starbucks' siren call and ditch a popular local chain bearing the bushy-whiskered coffee farmer's name?

Colombia's coffee federation, owner of the Juan Valdez chain, is outwardly welcoming the competition. It says the arrival of Starbucks will boost the market for gourmet java even if sales at its nearly 200 stores in Colombia take a hit over the short term.

"There's room in the market for us both," said Alejandra Londono, head of international sales for the Colombian chain.

Juan Valdez's social mission promoting Colombian coffee and contributing to producers' welfare is likely to keep customers loyal, said Londono.

Since its founding 11 years ago, the Colombian chain has funneled more than $20 million to a national fund that supports the country's 560,000 coffee-growing families, some of whom also own shares in the company.

While Starbucks also has burnished its image for corporate responsibility, offering employees in the U.S. generous health care benefits and now online college courses, it's stayed clear of Colombia, Latin America's third largest economy, even as it has opened more than 700 stories in 12 other countries in the region. That may have been because it feared trampling on local sensibilities already hurt by the branding of coffee that leaves growers earning just a few pennies from every $4 venti latte sold.

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

A desire to overcome the commodities curse is also what's been driving the federation's focus on adding value up the retail chain, a strategy reflected in more sophisticated local coffee-drinking culture.

While known for exporting the world's finest beans, until recently Colombians' taste in coffee was quite provincial, relegated to a preference for heavily-sweetened, warmed-over black coffee known as tinto, which is sold nearly everywhere.

Starbucks has also helped Colombian growers, introducing to consumers about 15 years ago a single-origin coffee grown in the Narino mountains.

Schultz, who first traveled to Colombia around 15 years ago to purchase beans, said no expense was spared to make the Colombia launch a success. For the first time in Latin America its coffee is being roasted locally, the store is decorated with mostly Colombian artwork and the company opened a farmer support center in the coffee hub of Manizales to share insights with growers.

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

Across from where Starbucks opened on a leafy park in north Bogota, office workers at a rival Juan Valdez seemed thrilled with the prospect of having a new option for their late-afternoon caffeine fix. Service at their local coffee house, they said, has been improving ever since Starbucks announced it was coming a year ago.

"I like Juan Valdez but it doesn't mean I'll never go to Starbucks just because I want to support our own," said Marcela Gomez, an architect. "A little healthy competition is good."

 

1
Text Only
Breaking News
  • Doctor: Patient killed caseworker before gunfight

    A doctor told police that a patient fatally shot a caseworker at their hospital complex before the doctor pulled out his own gun and exchanged fire with him and wounded him, a prosecutor said Thursday night.

    July 25, 2014

  • Feds plan review of FSSA over Medicaid backlog

    Federal officials are reviewing Indiana's procedures for enrolling residents in Medicaid after finding the state had 80,000 low-income residents awaiting approval in May.

    July 25, 2014

  • Very bad week: Airline disasters come in a cluster

    Nearly 300 passengers perish when their plane is shot out of the sky. Airlines suspend flights to Israel's largest airport after rocket attacks. An airliner crashes during a storm, and yet another disappears. Aviation has suffered one of its worst weeks in memory, a cluster of disasters spanning three continents.

    July 24, 2014

  • Indiana receives 245 children caught at US border

    New federal data show more than 200 unaccompanied children caught at the U.S. border have been placed with sponsors in Indiana.

    July 24, 2014

  • Witness: Teen's plane didn't show obvious distress

    A man who saw a plane flown by an Indiana teen who was killed during an around-the-world flight attempt says the aircraft was flying low but didn't show any obvious signs of distress before diving into the ocean off American Samoa.

    July 24, 2014

  • Ryan Dalziel takes Brickyard Grand Prix pole

    Defending race winner Ryan Dalziel earned his first IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship pole position of the season Thursday in qualifying for Friday's Brickyard Grand Prix.

    July 24, 2014

  • Ohio State marching band chief fired after probe

    Ohio State University fired the director of its celebrated marching band on Thursday after determining he ignored a "sexualized" culture of rituals including students being pressured to march in their underwear and participate in sexually themed stunts.

    July 24, 2014

  • Gary man charged with murder in officer's death

    Prosecutors charged a 24-year-old man Thursday in the shooting death of a Gary police officer.

    July 24, 2014

  • MDU1.jpg Colts Camp Update: Pagano praises city, AU

    Blue skies and comfortable temperatures greeted the Indianapolis Colts on the first practice day of training camp Thursday at Anderson University.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Indiana homeowners face $1.5M dam repairs bill

    A state agency says six dams on small lakes in a northern Indiana subdivision need about $1.5 million in repairs that the homeowners should pay to have completed.

    July 24, 2014

Featured Ads
More Resources from The Herald Bulletin
AP Video
Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites Anti-violence Advocate Killed, but Not Silenced. Dempsey: Putin May Light Fire and Lose Control Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase Obama Seeks Limits on US Company Mergers Abroad Large Family to Share NJ Lottery Winnings U.S. Flights to Israel Resume After Ban Lifted Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans Raw: National Guard Helps Battle WA Wildfires
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Helium debate
Helium
Front page
Poll

How important do you consider preschool for children?

Vital
Important but not critical
Not necessary
     View Results