Colombia boosts trade and business with China.
BY RUTH MORRIS
SHANGHAI-- Colombias Juan Valdez has trotted his little mule Conchita all over the map, opening up coffee shops in Miami and Madrid, stocking supermarkets in Russia, and even making a cameo in the Hollywood movie Bruce Almighty with Jim Carey.
But in what might be his boldest sidetrip yet, the iconic coffee farmer with the bushy mustache is now shipping his aromatic brew to China-- the ancient birthplace of Confusius, Kung Fu... and tea.
Santiago Pardo, Asia director for the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation, says the idea is not as crazy as it sounds. Tea may rule supreme in China, but in urban hubs like Shanghai its hard to ignore the explosion of cafes offering vanilla cappuccinos, free Wi-Fi, and mellow western music. Starbucks announced last month that its China sales had grown more than 20 percent for the seventh consecutive quarter; the company expects to have a whopping 1,500 shops in the Middle Kingdom by 2015.