Do coffee growers have a culture of drinking coffee?
Where is coffee grown and who sells coffee around the world?
In Chile, they prefer tea to coffee and instant rather than freshly
In Argentina, by contrast, breakfast is with a
cappuccino, a heart-starting espresso, or a caffe latte.
In Brazil, after-dinner coffee is served free at any self-respecting restaurant.
That Latin America is not one great homogeneous culture often surprises travellers.
However, even the most
differences in the consumer profile of a Columbian and a Venezuelan will
not have been lost on Starbucks, one of the fastest-growing global brands.
After searches for local partners, and a successful trial run in Mexico City,
Starbucks arrived in South America.
With no conventional advertising, the Seattle-based company opened stores in
Lima and Santiago within 24 hours of each other.
Neither Peru nor Chile has a mass-market cafe culture,
although European and US-style coffee houses have been springing up
in the upmarket districts of both capitals.
Despite this cultural peculiarity, a Starbucks survey
found that Chileans on average drink only 150 cups of coffee a year,
compared with 345 in the US and more than twice that number
in many European countries.
Of the 800g of coffee per capita bought in supermarkets
and from speciality shops each year,
90% of it is instant. In Argentina, per capita
is about 4 kg a year,
mostly in whole or ground coffee beans.
being a coffee-grower, Peru has a similar pattern of coffee consumption.
Hulio Gutierrez, head of Latin America at Starbucks Coffee International.
"We've been doing business in Latin America for decades," he says.
"We haven't had any stores but we've been buying Latin American
coffee since the beginning.
Expansion will depend entirely on how long it takes
to find the right partner in each of those countries.
If we don't find anyone, we may think about going in ourselves"
Anyone who knows the Starbucks story can already visualise potential outlets
in the most fashionable neighbourhoods of the region's capital cities.
From a single store in Seattle's Pike Place Market in 1971,
Starbucks today owns 3907 stores in North America and licences a further 1378.
They also own 437 and
1180 outlets in the rest of the world.
It first expanded from its home market to Japan in 1996
and is now present in more than 30 countries.
Last year alone, the Starbucks'
format was introduced to Mexico, Germany, Spain,
Austria, Puerto Rico, Greece, Oman, Indonesia and China.
Starbucks "corners", or mini-outlets, are found in airline offices,
sports stadiums, airports,
hotels and bookshops. Copy-cat coffee-bar chains have emerged,
only to be swallowed by Starbucks or forced to merge with competitors.
Fortune and fame, however, have not come without their critics.
Some analysts say the company was forced to globalise
because it had saturated its home market.
Others say the Japanese experience has not been a happy one.
Security concerns forced the company to retreat from Israel,
and the anti-globalisation movement now has Starbucks stores on its
societies such as Chile and Mexico,
American companies are generally well-regarded and any novelty
from abroad is guaranteed to
Both the Lima and Santiago Starbucks stores have been packed
since opening their doors,
and the company has rolled out 15 stores in Mexico City since
launching its first - cleverly located beside the US embassy
a year ago.
Roman Perez-Miranda, head of Latin America for Interbrand, agrees.
"Mexico is the closest Latin America gets to the US,
both geographically and culturally.
It was an obvious starting point for Starbucks in the region."