Starbucks, the world’s largest coffee-shop operator, will open a café in Bogota, Colombia after almost a century of buying coffee from the country. The café will open in the first half of next year, along with an additional five locations by the end of 2014. The company, headed by Starbucks Chief Executive Officer Howard Schultz, hopes to reach the goal of opening 50 Starbucks in Colombia in five years.
“This is long overdue,” Schultz said at a press conference in Bogota. “There is tremendous enthusiasm as we talk to people and walk the streets—most of these Colombian people we talked to have consumed Starbucks coffee somewhere else.”
Starbucks will help to boost its sales by expanding to countries with growing middle classes. The company has about 8,000 cafes located outside the United States, opening its first in India in 2012 and opening one in Vietnam this year. According to Starbucks’ annual global responsibility report, the company bought about 545 million pounds of coffee from 29 countries in 2012, a 27 percent increase from 2011. Colombia has been Starbucks’ largest or second-largest coffee-bean supplier in its 42 year history.
Starbucks is also partnering with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to invest $3 million into the security of coffee quality and supply in various regions of Colombia. USAID and Starbucks will each invest $1.5 million in research to benefit small-plot coffee farmers in Colombia over the next three years. The funds will go to Starbucks’ farmer support center in Manizales, which will pay for agronomists to analyze soil and inform growers on factors that affect profit and yield, including fertilizers, climate and pests.
Starbucks opened its first support center in Costa Rica in 2004, and opened branches last year in Colombia and China to help local coffee farmers improve the size and quality of their harvests. By 2015, Starbucks aims to sell all ethically sourced coffee.