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Colombia, the world’s third-largest coffee producer, is tossing its hat into the arena of gourmet coffee shops.
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has announced that his country will take its product directly to consumers through a new brand of Juan Valdez coffee shops. The stores will bear the internationally known image of Jaun Valdez, the fictional peasant coffee grower which symbolizes Colombian coffee.
Facing falling coffee prices around the world, Colombia has decided to expand its reach by capitalizing on the more lucrative end-product gourmet coffee market. "If Starbucks has done it, why should we give up on such an important distribution channel?," said President Uribe.
The move into coffee shops will not only give Colombia a share of the end-product market, it will also create a wider market for its bean crop which has suffered from the lower prices.
Juan Valdez coffee shops are planned to open in Miami and the Colombian cities of Bogota, Cartagena and Medellin in December. Further expansion into the U.S., Japan, England, and Germany is part of the plan to double its exports of specialty coffee over the next four years.