A while ago I was staying with a couple of Colombians and a friend of mine came to visit us. Keen to know everything about Colombian culture, she fired hundreds of questions towards the Bogotanos and sat listening intently as our hosts unloaded hours of information about the history of the country, and how things are now. Having explored what I thought was every corner possible, my friend suddenly turned meek. Sheepishly, she asked, “What about Starbucks? Are there any Starbucks here?” Now I understood her meekness, I think she knew the response she’d get. Laughter rung through the apartment.
The story, which the Colombians I’ve met are very proud of telling, goes like this: Starbucks came to Colombia and attempted to open a store, but owing to the Colombians pride in their own coffee produce, they weren’t successful. More or less like my friend, they were simply laughed at. Instead the Colombian government devised their own franchise, aimed at replicating the success of coffee chains that have found a great deal of success worldwide.
The real difference between Juan Valdez Cafe and other chains is that Juan Valdez Cafe is the only one authorized to sell Colombian Coffee. As you’ll know from previous posts, Colombian coffee is some of the best in the world, selected largely from the beautiful Coffee Region (or Zona Cafetera) in Colombia. This means that every cup you receive, every espresso you order, is a real genuine taste of Colombia. It’s rich, aromatic and delicious, like coffee should be.
Juan Valdez himself has been harvesting coffee since 1959. Typically you’ll see him with his horse, Conchita, one of the most famous horses in Colombia. Strangely, the iconic Juan Valdez hasn’t aged in the entire time he has been working as a coffee harvester… Perhaps because he isn’t real. He was invented to represent coffee that is 100% Colombian and has come to be a symbol of Colombian coffee worldwide.
There are over 120 Juan Valdez Cafes in the world, including locations in Spain and the US. If you’re on a Colombia vacation, there’s no doubt you’ll spy one of the amny stores in any of Colombia’s cities. Be sure to try it out, you may never look at your nearby coffee chains in the same way again.