The world’s largest coffee chain sparks debate as it opens its doors for the first time in the capital
By Steven Grattan
Almost a year after getting the go ahead, the Seattle-based coffee chain opened to the public in Bogota last Wednesday in the heart of the city’s upscale Parque 93 area.
The first of 50 stores planned to open in Colombia over the next five years was inaugurated by Cliff Burrows, General Director of Starbucks in Latin America, and comes 43 years after Starbucks first started to buy Colombian coffee.
In the next few months, the coffee giant plans to open more stores on calle 67 with #7, the Gran Estación shopping mall, in Torre 95 and in Zona G, employing an average of 20 employees in each shop.
The opening of the coffee giant has not been without criticism or debate among Colombians, who see the move as a threat to Colombia’s home-grown coffee chains such as Oma and Juan Valdez. Others are in favour of Starbucks’ arrival due to the economic growth it will bring to the country.
The National Federation of Coffee Growers in Colombia, and owners of the Juan Valdez chain, said that they see the new competition as good thing.
“There is space in the market for both (Starbucks and Juan Valdez),” Alejandro Londoño, Director of International Sales for Juan Valdez said.
“The social mission for Juan Valdez is to promote Colombian coffee and contribute to the welfare of their producers, so surely there will be clients that will remain loyal to the chain,” he added.
Read more in our opinion column on the opening of Starbucks in Colombia.