Starbucks to sell only home-grown coffee to Colombians

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 August, 2013, 3:36am

Starbucks Coffee Company, which has exported coffee beans from Colombia for more than four decades, plans to open its first cafe in the Andean country next year and serve only locally grown coffee.

The world's biggest coffee chain hopes to open at least 50 coffee shops in cities across Colombia in the next five years, starting in the capital Bogota.

The announcement by the Seattle based-firm coincided with protests by local coffee growers who are demanding the government provide more aid to counter low global prices and cheap imports hitting the world's biggest producer of washed arabica beans.

"We've had great success in Latin America and it's well overdue for us to open up in Colombia," said Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz, adding that he hoped to open at least six stores in the first year.

A military crackdown on drug-funded insurgent groups has made Colombia more attractive to foreign firms once fearful of investing in the nation when the conflict between Marxist rebels and the government was at its height.

In addition to opening stores, Starbucks said it would partner with the United States Agency for International Development and invest a joint US$3 million in a plan to help 25,000 farmers in conflict-hit areas of Colombia increase coffee yields.

Starbucks' new coffee shops will be run by a joint venture between Mexican restaurant firm Alsea, which operates more than 500 Starbucks stores in Latin America, and Colcafe, a subsidiary of Grupo Nutresa, the fourth-largest Colombian food firm.