High in Colombia’s Andes Mountains is the city of Medellín. It’s one of South America’s most beautiful cities, known as the City of the Eternal Spring for its temperate climate and green landscape. The city offers a vibrant mix of old and new, where bold modern architecture stands alongside Romanesque cathedrals and brightly painted homes line cobblestone streets in shades of turquoise, red and yellow. Coffee is grown along its rich hillsides and is both a favorite morning beverage and the final course to a large meal.
Starbucks has opened its first store in the dynamic city, marking its 1,000th store in Latin America since entering Mexico in 2002. The new store, located in Medellín’s Milla de Oro on Poblado Avenue, is designed to honor Colombia’s rich coffee heritage while celebrating the city’s eclectic vibe.
“Starbucks has a deep history with Colombia and its spectacular coffee landscape going back more than four decades,” said Ricardo Rico, vice president for Starbucks operations across Latin America and the Caribbean. “We have since proudly shared Colombia’s finest coffee with billions of people around the world and are truly honored to do the same with customers here in Colombia.”
Since opening its first store Colombia in the capital city of Bogotá in 2014, Starbucks stores in the country have served 100 percent locally sourced and roasted coffee for in-store beverages to honor the country’s coffee heritage and the company’s 45-year history of sourcing premium arabica coffee from the region. Customers can explore different varieties of Colombian coffees including Starbucks single-origin Colombia Nariño, Colombia Espresso, Colombia Espresso Decaf and the medium-roast Colombia coffee.
Designing a Unique Experience in Medellín
To mark this historic moment for the brand, Starbucks store design team created an inviting destination for customers with an open, airy and welcoming layout that includes community tables and an outdoor patio.
Hand-painted graphics on columns, by Colombian artist Natalia Penagos, depict the Starbucks Farmer Support Center in Manizales, Colombia, which helps provide local farmers with resources and expertise that can help lower their cost of production, improve coffee quality and increase the yield of premium coffees. The Farmer Support Center is home to agronomists and quality experts who work directly with farmers to provide support in growing high-quality arabicacoffee.
Starbucks also worked with a range of local designers to capture the artistic, creative and modern spirit of Medellin. Local furniture company Perceptual designed and manufactured all the furniture in the store while Epifita created a living green wall. Colombian illustrator and artist Catalina Estrada, known for her bold interpretations of nature and Latin American folklore, created a playful custom mural inspired by Medellin’s nickname.
Starbucks Poised for Continued Growth in Colombia
Starbucks expansion to Medellin marks a milestone for the company in Colombia with Alsea, its long-time strategic business partner, which now owns and operates all Starbucks stores in Colombia, Mexico, Chile and Argentina. Starbucks now has 11 stores in Colombia, with plans to grow to 50 stores and 1,000 partners (employees) by 2019.
“With Medellín rapidly emerging as a popular international destination, cafés are becoming a place to work, conduct business or simply connect with one another,” said German Ramirez, managing director for Alsea’s operations in Colombia, including Starbucks. “Our new store in the heart of the city will offer customers a unique Starbucks Experience that fits their lifestyle while honoring the region’s rich coffee heritage and culture.”
In addition to its partnership with Alsea, Starbucks is working with Grupo Nutresa and Colcafe to offer Colombian customers locally sourced and roasted espresso, drip and packaged coffee at Starbucks® stores in Colombia. Grupo Nutresa is one the largest food company in Latin America in terms of market cap and is the leader of the processed foods industry in Colombia, employing more than 37,000 people.
Starbucks Commitment to Colombia’s Coffee Farmers
As the largest single purchaser of premium Colombian arabicacoffee, Starbucks is committed to the livelihoods of the country’s coffee farmers. In addition to its Farmer Support Center in Manizales, which has benefited more than 70,000 producers in the region, Starbucks is engaged in a public-private partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) that is investing $3 million to increase Colombian coffee yields and to enhance economic opportunities for Colombian farmers. The partnership has enabled the Manizales Farmer Support Center to positively impact more than 18,000 coffee farmers in the region. Starbucks also expanded this collaborative program to the Tolima and Antioquia growing regions to benefit up to 10,000 more coffee farmers. Additionally, in the North Cauca region, agronomists at the Farmer Support Center have expanded their work to help more than 1,200 indigenous coffee growers.
The cornerstone of Starbucks approach to sourcing coffee in Colombia and around the world is Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) Practices, one of the coffee industry’s first set of sustainability standards, verified by third-party experts. Developed in collaboration with Conservation International, C.A.F.E. Practices has helped Starbucks create a long-term supply of high-quality coffee and positively impact the lives and livelihoods of coffee farmers and their communities. As a result, more than 99 percent of the coffee Starbucks purchases globally is now verified ethically sourced. Starbucks is the largest coffee retailer to achieve this milestone.