If Juan Valdez has his way, more Americans and people worldwide will be drinking his coffee this year.
BY JOACHIM BAMRUD
BOGOTA — Crisis or no crisis, Americans must have their coffee. That’s what Colombia’s national coffee federation is counting on. This year it plans to expand its chain of Juan Valdez coffee shops in the United States.
“During 2009 we have plans to open new shops in U.S. airports,” says Catalina Crane, president of Promotora de Cafe de Colombia (Procafecol), which owns and operates 170 Juan Valdez coffee shops worldwide. “There’s an expectation that coffee consumption won’t be affected in a recession.”
The move depends on when such stores become available, as they are in high demand, she adds.
The shops are named after the Juan Valdez character invented by a U.S. advertising agency 50 years ago and used as a symbol of Colombian coffee. Today, Juan Valdez and the Juan Valdez logo are considered one of the most recognizable brands worldwide.
There are currently 14 Juan Valdez shops in the United States, including two each at the JFK and Newark airports. It also operates another three in New York City, four in Philadelphia, two in Washington, D.C. and one in Seattle, the hometown of Starbucks. “The New York ones are the most popular,” Crane says.
The Colombian coffee federation sees Starbucks more as a partner than a rival since it is a key buyer of its coffee, officials say. In fact, Procafecol is considering buying a major stake in the U.S. coffee chain, Crane says. “We’re looking at that possibility as an interesting opportunity,” she says.
While Procafecol owns...
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