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Juan Valdez & Starbucks

Juan Valdez & Starbucks

Juan Valdez & Starbucks

Visitors who travel to Colombia may recall the long-running Juan Valdez TV ad campaign. It featured a coffee farmer and his mule, Conchita, laden with bags of harvested coffee beans. Created by the American advertising agency, Doyle, Dane, Bernbach, back at the start of the Mad Men era, the commercials ran for two decades. The image and message made an indelible impression in the minds of American coffee drinkers that Colombian coffee was all about small farmers working their own land to make this product. Colombia’s National Federation of Coffee Growers sponsored the campaign.

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Juan Valdez & Starbucks

Juan Valdez went global in 2002 though not with as wide a reach as Starbucks. It operates some 130 retail stores in Colombia that serve coffee by the cup, as well as selling beans and coffee paraphernalia. About thirty-five such stores are located in other countries in addition to selling packaged coffee in grocery stores abroad and on-line with attractive shipping rates to the U.S. It produces several different roasts, some mild, some strong, ranging from low acid, medium-bodied coffees to strong, full-bodied ones, in both caffeinated and de-caffeinated forms. Colina, Cumbre and Volcan are its largest selling roasts. One of its roasts is organic. Its Buen Dia coffee is freeze-dried, with or without caffeine. The federation is the majority owner of the chain with the remainder owned by coffee growers.
A portion of the proceeds of the Juan Valdez company goes to better the lives of its growers. It has financed schools, teacher housing, health clinics and vaccination programs for children, as well as infrastructure for rural communities, highways and bridges.
Visitors on Colombia tours will also encounter the country’s other major coffee purveyor, Oma. Started in 1970, Oma sells coffee retail and owns a restaurant chain plus a roasting facility. Both Juan Valdez and Oma sell alcoholic beverages too, a game that Starbucks is just now getting into. Where you will find the best tasting coffee during your travel to Colombia is a matter of personal preference. A number of small gourmet companies also exist in Colombia, giving visitors on Colombia tours a range of brews and roasts from which to choose.
Is there a Starbucks in Colombia’s future? With the road already paved by its competitors, you’d surely think so, though to date, the coffee colossus has not opened any retail operations. Of course Colombians are big coffee growers though not necessarily big coffee drinkers. Some sources estimate that almost all Colombians drink coffee but not in the abundant quantities that Americans and Europeans do. In a move that surprised some, the federation bought into Starbucks in 2009, purchasing between six and seven percent of the company’s stock. Perhaps Juan Valdez will go head to head with Starbucks one day, giving visitors on who travel to Colombia the opportunity to sample both.


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Traveling in Colombia
Safe Travel in Colombia
Colombian Coffee
What’s in my Coffee?
Colombian Coffee
The Coffee Traditions of Colombia
Coffee Industry of Colombia
Growing Coffee in Colombia
Zona Cafetera of Colombia
The Coffee Regions of Colombia
Juan Valdez & Starbucks
The Colombian Barista