Starbucks Coffee Company announced on 19 June two major openings in Latin America, including its first store in Costa Rica. The company also took the occasion to announce its first Farmer Support Center in South America located in Colombia. “Starbucks business outside the US is a key part of the company’s future, and Latin America continues to play an important role,” said Cliff Burrows, President, Starbucks Americas, in a company statement. “As a coffee company, we source the majority of our coffee from Latin America. We’re dedicated to not only expanding our store presence here, but also deepening our relationships with farmers, their families and the community.” Together with joint-venture partner Corporación de Franquicias Americanas (CFA), Starbucks opened the doors of the first Starbucks location in Costa Rica on 20 June. The coffeehouse, located in Escazu neighborhood in San Jose, will feature Starbucks premium single-origin coffee, Bella Vista F.W. Tres Rios Costa Rica. “Costa Rica produces some of the world’s most bright and flavorful beans and remains a key coffee growing region for us,” said Pablo Arizmendi-Kalb, Vice President and General Manager, Starbucks Latin America, in the company statement. “We have sourced coffee from Costa Rica since our founding in 1971, as well as operated a Farmer Support Center in Costa Rica since 2004. We’re excited about the opening of the first retail store to introduce our high-quality coffees and the unique Starbucks Experience to our customers in this market.” In addition, Starbucks announced it will be opening its first Farmer Support Center in South America located in Manizales, Colombia. Agronomists and quality experts will work directly with Colombia’s coffee farmers to provide resources and expertise to promote responsible coffee-growing practices that improve quality and enhance the size of the yield. “We believe that our long-term success is linked to the success of the thousands of farmers who grow our coffee around the world,” said Peter Gibbons, Executive Vice President, Starbucks Global Supply Chain Operations. “Our comprehensive farmer support includes offering them access to the tools, information and capital they need to advance the methods that support the longevity of their farms.” Through globally-tested coffee knowledge, best practices and with the support of Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia, Starbucks said it aims to improve the lives of local farmers, their families and communities, while reducing the environmental impact of the region’s coffee-growing activities. Starbucks opened Farmer Support Centers in San Jose, Costa Rica in 2004 and Kigali, Rwanda in 2009 and started ground operations in Mbeya, Tanzania in 2011. Later this year, Starbucks is also scheduled to open a Farmer Support Center in Yunnan, China.
In other parts of Latin America, the company said it sees Brazil as a strategic, long-term growth opportunity. In 2010, the company took full ownership of its business in Brazil and plans to open several hundred stores in the next five years. Also, last year Starbucks strengthened its relationship with Alsea, the joint-venture partner in Argentina, Chile and Mexico. Together with Alsea, Starbucks plans to open more than 300 new stores in Argentina and Mexico by 2015. Currently, Starbucks operates more than 560 stores across Latin America and employs about 8,050 partners (employees).