Starbucks Coffee Company together with Premium Restaurants of America (PRA), its long-term strategic licensing partner in Central America, opened its first store in Panama, making it Starbucks 15th market in Latin America and 67th worldwide. Located in Panama City’s Street Mall shopping center, the new store proudly features Starbucks Reserve Panama Carmen Estate coffee, part of the company’s exclusive Starbucks Reserve collection of unique, small-batch coffees.
“We are proud to bring the Starbucks Experience to customers in Panama and build our brand in a way that honors the coffee passion and traditions inherent to this region,” says Rich Nelsen, senior vice president and general manager for Starbucks in Latin America, where the company now has more than 880 stores employing over 12,000 partners (employees). “By extending our relationship with Premium Restaurants of America, we are diligently positioning the brand for continued growth in Latin America as we enter our 15th market in the region.”
Starbucks stores in Panama are operated through a strategic licensing agreement with El Salvador–based Premium Restaurants of America (PRA), formerly named Corporación de Franquicias Americanas (CFA), which initially teamed up with Starbucks in 2010 for the opening of the company’s first store in San Salvador. Since then PRA has opened 19 Starbucks stores, with eight in El Salvador, five in Guatemala, five in Costa Rica, and one opening today in Panama, employing more than 340 partners across the region. Together, Starbucks and PRA plan to open at least 20 stores in Panama City over the next five years.
“We are honored to be Starbucks strategic partner in Central America,” said Francisco Alemán, general director for Central America at PRA. “Our local market knowledge combined with our proven track record of operating Starbucks stores will allow us to offer an exceptional experience to Panamanian customers. With the arrival of Starbucks in Panama, we are confident that we can continue to drive growth in the region by bringing customers a truly unique retail experience.”
To mark the launch of Starbucks in Panama, Starbucks stores in the country will feature Starbucks Reserve Panama Carmen Estate coffee, a bright and nutty-sweet coffee grown in Panama's Volcán Chiriquí Valley, where coffee producer Carlos Aguilera produces some of the world's most renowned specialty coffees on his award-winning, family estate. Starbucks has featured coffee from farms in Panama like Carmen Estate, Los Cantares Estate, La Florentina, San Benito, and Hacienda La Esmeralda since 2000 for customers to enjoy in select locations in the U.S. and is now proud to offer Starbucks Reserve Panama Carmen Estate Coffee in its new stores in Panama City.
“Starbucks has a long history of working with coffee growers like Carlos Aguilera across Central America and we are thrilled to now share that story here,” says David Batres, managing director for Starbucks Central America. “Our customers in Panama City have a strong appreciation for coffee and I believe we’ve created a unique destination between home and work where they can relax in our beautiful store, discover Starbucks signature coffees from around the world, or enjoy a bag of our local Starbucks Reserve Panama Carmen Estate coffee to take home to share with friends and family.”
Only three other markets in Latin America currently offer whole-bean packaged Starbucks Reserve coffees in select stores for limited times, including Colombia, Mexico, and Brazil. From the mountains of Nicaragua, to faraway highlands in Papua New Guinea, to the valleys of Panama— these coffees are hand selected by some of Starbucks most experienced coffee buyers.
The Starbucks store at Street Mall offers customers an inviting destination to relax, recharge, and connect in one of Panama City’s most cosmopolitan commercial neighborhoods while enjoying Starbucks signature brewed espresso and blended beverages. Starbucks Latin America design team spent many months transforming the 3,304-square-foot space into a celebration of the Starbucks coffee journey, from its first location in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, as highlighted in the store’s artwork, to Panama’s Paso Ancho and Los Cantares coffee-growing regions in the Volcán Chiriquí Valley, depicted across a large hand-painted mural on a locally sourced, wood-clad wall.
With a 28-foot high ceiling, the focal point of the store is a one-of-a-kind custom made hanging mobile, designed to represent the Geisha coffee plant, which signifies the birth of the coffee industry in Panama. The store is dotted with beautiful images of Panama’s coffee farms and also features tile work resembling a hand painted style unique to the local culture. Starbucks also incorporated design elements from neighboring regions, including furniture from Colombia and wood slatted light fixtures from Brazil.
“Latin America has been part of Starbucks story from the very beginning,” says Scott Mitchem, Starbucks director of design for Latin America. “Our store designs pay tribute to the region’s heritage and culture by working with local inspirations, artists, and designers. We wanted to bring that same passion to the design of our first store in Panama.”