Starbucks is coming to town

December 16, 2010

You know, for local consumption in Guatemala City, this may sound like a good strategy.  More places where coffee is served, more possibilities for people to choose the profile they like the most.

Guatemala is well known for producing some of the best coffees in the world.  Nevertheless, in local consumption, there is a lot to do.  Part of that has to do with the fact that from the 3.4 million bags produced, only around 500,000 stay in the country for local consumers (and I bet not the best ones). Average per capita consumption is around 1.8 cups a day. Most of Guatemalans don’t drink coffee but a beverage made of cereals and coffee, in the rural areas where 50% of the total population are indigenas. 

Since around a decade, more and more coffee shops have been opening.  El Cafetalito and Café León were pioneers in selling coffee, and now café Gitane, coffee kiosks like &Café, coffee houses like Barista are being more aggressive in selling espresso based beverages and roasted coffee. Recently, El Injerto Café, owned by producers of one of the finest Guatemalan coffees in Huehuetenango, with auction awarded lots, opened to the public.  It is the only one brewing coffee in pour over, siphon, aeropress and French press.

Starbucks has opened in El Salvador and will open in Guatemala next March. It seems to be a franchise operated by a Salvadorian company that also runs other fast food restaurants.   It for sure will have its challenges:

1. Proving consistency in every single cup. Most coffee shops in Guatemala have big problems with that.  It all depends on the barista, the coffee supplier, the prices in coffee, etc...If they are good at serving a consistent coffee beverage day after day, I assume it will be an advantage.

2. Guatemalans are pretty much convinced that their coffee is one of the best in the world.  They have never tasted that coffee exported to the world, but they believe it because it makes you feel proud and you have heard it from others so you end up believing it.  Offering different coffees from around the world will be for sure a novelty.

3. Total population is 13 million, around 4 million live in the city and 56% of them are poor. Coffee pricing will be determinant to catch some of those coffee drinkers or to attract new ones.

4. Competition is always good.  I am sure it will have lots of benefit for the consumer who will be the one deciding if coffee tastes better here or there.

I am writing an article now for a local coffee magazine regarding this topic, so any one who would like to comment on how Starbucks has contributed to change consumption in USA or other parts of the world where they have stores, or how it has not contributed, please allow me to quote you. It will be very enriching to include your comments.

Welcome Starbucks and good luck. 


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