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Starbucks extends Colombian operations, Juan Valdez announces new global expansion of coffeehouse chain.

Starbucks Coffee Co. has been involved with the Colombian coffee industry since its founding in 1971, when the Seattle-based coffeehouse chain began sourcing high quality Colombian coffee beans. Starbucks has been working with USAID (United States Agency for International Development) to increase both Colombian coffee production and expand the opportunities for Colombian farmers. They have been actively involved in researching climate change and other plights (including coffee leaf rust) that have impacted the worldwide coffee industry.

In September, Starbucks announced that it will be launching its specialty coffeehouses in Bogota, Colombia, in 2014, thereby extending their coffee relationship from production to the Colombian coffee culture.

The Starbucks stores will be operated by two long-term Latin American partners, Alsea, Juarez, Mexico, and Grupo Nutresa, Medellin, Colombia. The initial store will open in 2014 with plans for expansion to all major cities throughout Colombia.

Both Starbucks and the Colombia Coffee Federation are working to strengthen both the overall Colombian economy and its coffee production. The work of the Colombian Coffee Federation has resulted in 58 percent of coffee plantations being rust-free. Luis Fernando Samper, chief communications and marketing officer, Colombian Coffee Growers

Federation (FNC), Bogota, Colombia, said that future coffee production in Colombia is extremely positive. The FNC anticipates being rust-free in the near future and has also prepared new varieties of coffee that will both withstand climate change and cope with climate variability.

Traditionally, Colombians greet each morning with a cup of tinto. Samper explained that tinto is a small cup of blended coffee, stronger than traditional American coffee but slightly weaker than espresso. The taste of tinto will have regional variations but one thing that remains the same is the practice of sharing a cup.

Having a cup of tinto has been associated with both friendship and hospitality; it is a way of bringing individuals together. "People will invite people to their homes to have a tinto," said Samper. Colombians are accustomed to sharing coffee with friends; the specialty coffee market is simply broadening their beverage selection.

"In the last decade or so, the Colombian economy has been growing at a fast pace," said Samper. "The middleclass population is expanding and with that growth, there is an increased opportunity for specialty coffee consumption."

More than 10 years ago, Juan Valdez coffee (Colombia's official brand) opened its initial specialty coffee shop in Colombia. Samper described the Juan Valdez coffeehouses as distinctly Colombian, both the beverages and the atmosphere remain true to Colombian coffee and culture. "Starbucks' arrival is no surprise. We do think there is an opportunity for that consumption growth," said Samper. "It doesn't necessarily mean competition for the Juan Valdez brand. Instead, Starbucks will help increase the specialty coffee segment in Colombia overall."

Today, Juan Valdez stores are in 180 locations across Latin and North America with plans to expand to 230 locations worldwide by the end of the year. What makes this brand so successful, said Samper, is its commitment to preserving both Colombian coffee and culture. Each blend and brew is created solely with beans produced and roasted in Colombia, a practice that Starbucks is planning to adopt.

"All the specialty coffees only use Colombian coffee beans, because the brand (Juan Valdez) represents Colombian coffee," said Samper. "The fact that Starbucks announced that it will use only Colombian coffee in the stores that will open here shows that the company appreciates both the distinct taste and variety available in Colombia."--AMH
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Title Annotation:New & Notable
Comment:Starbucks extends Colombian operations, Juan Valdez announces new global expansion of coffeehouse chain.(New & Notable)
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Geographic Code:3COLO
Date:Oct 1, 2013
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