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Published: Wednesday, 7/16/2014 - Updated: 1 year ago

Starbucks opens first store in Colombia


SEATTLE — Starbucks opened its first Colombian store in Bogota on Wednesday, a foray into one of the world’s top producers of quality coffee — and one that has big coffee retailers of its own.

The three-story store in one of the capital’s trendiest districts marks a few firsts for Starbucks beyond the fact that it’s debuting in a country where it’s been buying beans for four decades.

It’s the first time the company will exclusively serve coffee sourced locally —something made possible not only because Colombia has top-notch beans, but also because Starbucks has a long-standing relationship with a big roaster there, said Cliff Burrows, Starbucks’ head for the Americas.

That roaster is Colcafe, a unit of Colombia’s Grupo Nutresa, the roaster that helped Starbucks develop its Via instant coffee.

It’s also the first time Starbucks installs a Clover machine — a $12,000 high-end system for making single-cup brewed coffee — and sells its rare Reserve beans in Latin America. Burrows said Colombians’ taste for drip coffee make the country a good market for the Clover.

Colombia’s fast-growing economy and booming middle class represent a good opportunity for profit, but also has challenges. Starbuck’s faces strong domestic competition in the form of Juan Valdez, the brand that was created by the country’s coffee growers’ federation to represent Colombia’s coffee globally and has evolved into an extensive network of coffee shops here.

The stores in Colombia will be operated through a joint venture between Grupo Nutresa and Alsea, the company that runs Starbucks’ stores in Mexico, Argentina and Chile.

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