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In Colombia, Starbucks To Take On Juan Valdez

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Seattle-based coffee giant Starbucks has announced it's going to expand to Colombia.

The country is known for its Arabica beans and for the mythical coffee farmer Juan Valdez. He's helped sell Colombia's coffee for 50 years.

Starbucks has cafes in 50 countries. And now, it's coming to perhaps the country most associated with coffee.

Howard Schultz, who's the company's chief executive, announced that the first shop will open in Bogota next year, followed by 50 more cafes and in other cities over five years.

Colombia's coffee beans, grown in small haciendas in the mountains, are world famous. And big cities have plenty of coffee shops, like the Juan Valdez cafes operated by the Coffee Growers Federation.

But Starbucks sees a market in an increasingly affluent country that has nearly 50 million people – and that's developed a relatively recent taste for high-brow coffees.

The announcement came while Colombia's coffee farmers have been striking for more government aid to help them weather low global prices for the beans.

Starbucks says its plans should help — the company plans to buy from Colombian farmers and roast the coffee here.

The big question is: What will the iconic Juan Valdez think of the competition?

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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