Starbucks opened its first store in Bogotá on July 16 to long lines. I had the opportunity to visit Starbucks last week while in Bogotá, about two weeks after the opening.
The first Starbucks in Bogotá had a line to the front door when I visited on 4pm on a Thursday. When it opened on July 16, people were waiting for hours in a line that stretched outside the door and along the street.
The first Starbucks in Bogotá is located in Bogotá’s Parque 93 with an entrance on the first floor of a high-rise building. The store is Starbucks’ first store worldwide that serves 100 percent locally sourced coffee – it only sells coffee from Colombia in the new store.
Starbucks has always been selling some coffee from Colombia, starting with its first store in Seattle’s Pike Place Market in 1971.
Starbucks’ entry into the Colombian market is a joint venture with Alsea and Grupo Nutresa. Alsea is a big restaurant operator in Latin America running several brands including Burger King, Domino’s Pizza and P.F Chang’s.
Inside the fancy three-story Bogotá Starbucks
The new Starbucks in Bogotá is unique in Latin America according to the company. It is a fancy 2,700 square-foot three-story café that is fancier than Starbucks I have visited in the States.
On the first floor is the Starbucks coffee bar, serving locally sourced and roasted coffees. The store also sells food such as cheese sticks and croissants.
On the second floor is an interactive coffee bar where customers can try various brewing methods and sample any of the five varieties of Colombian coffee offered in the store. The third floor is a more quiet location with a large window that overlooks Parque 93.
Of course this Starbucks is like others around the world and has free WiFi. I saw many customers in the store with laptops using the Internet.
The Starbucks store is decorated with Colombian artwork – most notable is a large mural that depicts the “Starbucks Siren”, underwater, symbolizing the first shipment of coffee from Colombia to Seattle in the 1970s.
The mural was created with coffee pigment and acrylics by renowned Colombian painter and illustrator, Luis Carlos Cifuentes.
Starbucks in Latin America
Starbucks is a massive company with over 20,000 retail stores located in 65 countries. Starbucks has been in Latin America since 2002 starting out in Mexico and Puerto Rico. The company now has over 700 stores in 13 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Later this year, Starbucks plans to open its first store in Bolivia and next year its first store in Panama. Starbucks opened its first store in Mexico 13 years ago and the company now has over 400 stores in Mexico.
The new Bogotá store is the first of five shops Starbucks plans to open in Bogotá this year. Within five years, Starbucks hopes to open up to 50 stores in Colombia, with an investment of approximately $30 million and employment for up to 1,000 staff.
So there is likely a Starbucks coming to Medellín in the not too distant future – I wouldn’t be surprised to see one open in Medellín next year.
In Colombia, Starbucks will compete with Juan Valdéz with almost 200 stores in the country. Juan Valdéz has stores in 11 additional countries including the United States.
Juan Valdéz’s response to Starbucks new store in Colombia was to open a café in downtown Miami. Juan Valdéz is looking to open about 60 stores in South Florida over the next five years.
The Bottom Line
I believe that Juan Valdéz will definitely feel some competition if additional stores that Starbucks opens in Colombia are like its initial fancy flagship store in Bogotá.
However, it is likely that there is room for both Starbucks and Juan Valdéz cafés in Colombia as Colombians start to develop more of a taste for high-quality lattes and espressos.
The typical pot of coffee brewed in Colombia today is usually made with cheaper blends that often include Ecuadorian and Peruvian beans.
Farmers in Colombia are likely to benefit as Starbucks expands in Colombia. The company expects that its purchases of Colombian coffee could double to about 1 million bags annually with the opening of local Starbucks stores in Colombia.
That 1 million bags would represent about 10 percent of Colombia’s production expected this year.
How to get there
The easiest way to get to Starbucks’ new store in Bogotá would be to ask any taxi driver to take you to Parque 93 – they all know where that is.
On the TransMilenio in Bogotá, the closest station I am aware of is the Virrey station, which is a bit of a walk from Parque 93.